The company founded and run by Evan Reas has 10 employees and $6 million in investor funding.
Reas’s business concept is simple: his website, lal.com, allows college students to flirt online. And U.S. college students apparently don’t get to flirt enough in real life — thousands have signed up.
Reas himself is still just 26. He’s one of the super-entrepreneurs trained at Stanford University’s “Facebook class.”
“The class was extremely practical,” says Reas.
“(Professor B.J. Fogg) taught us the theory of entrepreneurship, but expected us to use it in the real world and try it out with small experiments to attempt to do it ourselves,” says Reas.
“He wanted us to talk to users and to get real data ourselves rather than just reading it in a book.”
The class, launched by Fogg and Dave McClure in 2007, hasn’t just spawned Reas and lal.com. In fact, its main result is a new generation of companies that make money on Facebook apps. The first-year students designed apps that attracted 16 million users.
“The concept of this class had never been tried before,” explains Professor Fogg. “The students built real things and put them out in the world. I told them to drop out if they didn’t like challenges.”
Their seminar was, in essence, a boot camp for future Silicon Valley stars. Many are now millionaires, at least on paper.
Akshay Kothari, 25, took the class last year and founded Pulse.me, an app that allows users to create a screen mosaic of their favourite news sites.
Since launching 14 months ago, Pulse has gained million users, $10 million in funding and an endorsement from Steve Jobs.
Fogg says starting a successful company is actually fairly simple. “The biggest mistake companies make is to overthink.” he says.
“They make their products too complicated, add way too many features, and delay launching for fear of failure. Successful apps are simple, social and fun.”