Startup markets to web networks

September 8, 2008 8:09:39 AM PDT
A group of former Stanford students are looking at a new way of making money on the internet; it's a marketing strategy using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

750 Industries -- it's a new San Francisco start-up; building what, it says, will be the first-of-its-kind, socially-driven marketing platform on the web. It's founded by four young Stanford University grads and backed by an angel investment of nearly $1 million.

"Every now and then a great company comes from Stanford - Cisco, Sun, Yahoo, Google and so we're always looking for the next big idea," said Mike Maples, Maples Investment.

Mike Maples is the venture capitalist backing the team; he believes it's reinventing the concept of marketing by using social arenas on the internet, like the popular networking sites of Facebook and MySpace. The idea is to share media content, like a video or a picture, through peer-to-peer marketing on the internet.

"We think that this kind of marketing will be as important for social networking and for websites as mass advertising was for TV," said Maples.

It's a bold hope for the 750 Industries company - who next month officially launches a custom-engineered platform which paying clients can use to promote content or advertise a product.

"Imagine if you're Nike and you're deciding whether you're going to buy banner ads on ESPN, or if you're going to want to do something social where, when I have some brand-affinity with Nike, it's super-easy for me to share that brand-affinity with the rest of my friends.," said Dan Greenburg, COO, 750 Industries.

They were all part of a first-ever university class teaching students how to build social applications on Facebook and grasp the attention of users worldwide. Some of the "apps" as they're called, like electronic hugs became wildly popular, and the students even started making money by running online ads next to their apps.

The group realized it could capitalize on the popularity of social sites. But technical leader Rob Fan says they're still engineering the final touches of the technology.

"We are building an actual platform, a website that advertisers or publishers could go to, clients could actually log into and access to get information to set things up," said Rob Fan, CTO, 750 Industries.

But it's still a secret on just exactly how the platform works, and how it will measure the success of a social marketing campaign-- we'll find that out after its official October launch.

Will it achieve the success of a company like Google or Yahoo?

"You always hope for the best. But Stanford students in the past have dared to dream big dreams, and low and behold, some of them become realities," said Maples.


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