Young Entrepreneur, Catherine Cook of MyYearBook.com reveals the secrets of how she got 5 Million Members on Myyearbook.com. Talk to Catherine Cook for any length of time and you get the distinct feeling you don’t need to remember this girl’s name because you’ll be hearing it often in the years to come.
Catherine Cook Interview
Catherine Cook of MyYearBook.com reveals the secrets of how she got 5 Million Members on Myyearbook.com
As a teen, Catherine is a self-declared “nerd” and proud of it. She’s a varsity gymnast with a boyfriend and a 4.0 GPA who, in her dwindling spare time, attends events like the National Youth Leadership Forum in Defense, Intelligence, and Diplomacy.
Catherine Cook Interview
Thank you Catherine for agreeing to an interview, we really appreciate it.
First Question – What gave you the idea to create MyYearBook.com ?
When I was 15 and Dave (David Cook – fellow founder) was 16, we got the idea for MyYearbook while just flipping through a normal high school yearbook in March 2005. We were relatively new in our high school and we just wanted a better way to get to know our classmates. When we first go the idea we started brainstorming a general idea of what we wanted: superlatives, profiles, classes, groups. We picked the name myYearbook, and I added smiley faces in the O’s (which is still our logo) and MyYearbook was born.
What advice would you give someone who wants to make a social networking website?
I would tell them to stay true to a certain core group. Now that their are two giant mass market social networking sites, the easiest way to succeed is to offer users something more specific then “finding friends.” For instance, myYearbook goes for teenagers with our specially designed core features like Battles and Quizzes. Other sites like LinkedIn, for example, have other targets like professionals.
You have over 2,000,000 members, how did you manage to grow your website so fast?
myYearbook now has more than 5 million members and we are growing by 20,000 members/day. The way we achieved this growth is by engineering virality. We did this by widgetizing all of our content and listening to what our users want. Any new feature we make for myYearbook, can also be posted on a number of other sites likeFacebook, MySpace, Xanga, etc. thereby spreading the word about our site and the quality of our features. The ideas for our features come straight from the users. We organize what our members want and are sure to add them to the site. One of the most popular features on the site, Battles, actually started as on of our users’ ideas. By listening to our users and making viral features, myYearbook was able to gain the members it has today by word of mouth.
What do you spend all of your hard earned cash on?
Actually, I’m a not a big shopper or anything. I wear mostly hand-me-downs. Right now all my cash is going towards trains to go back home and work on the site and textbook, and I try to keep as much money as possible in the website. Since I live at home (or now technically in a dorm), I really have no need to pay myself all that much.
Do you think that entrepreneurialism is something that is in your blood? Or is it something that can be learned?
I think it is something that can be learned, but only if you have a suitable mentor that can give you advice and help you out once in awhile. I had my older brother, Geoff, to go to for business advice, and I know it would have been many many times harder to raise the venture capital and deal with investors without his help and experience.
Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on?
I guess the person I look up to the most is my brother Geoff. He started his first company as a sophomore in college, and while I was growing up I watched him turn it into a successful business and always wanted to be an entrepreneur myself.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Probably to never give up. Sometimes it was really hard to keep up with the site along with my school work and other responsibilities, and just being told that somehow I’ll get through I’ll the work I have helps.
What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
To never be scared of asking for advice and to use all available resources to find their way. Now almost anything can be found on Google. I think it’s important to look for answers, and if you can’t find them yourself, to get a friend to help you out.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to grow myYearbook as far as I can, and after that I guess I’ll graduate college. I definitely want to start something else after myYearbook. Running the site is just so exciting, and I don’t think I’ll be able to give up being an entrepreneur.