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I recently posted a review of a new tool called Only Human. It is an interesting tool and the creators seem to be doing some interesting things with their Thought and Theory firm. I chatted with Jason Sadler, Chief Marketing Director and Dennis Eusebio, CEO. Check out the transcript below.
Allen: Can you provide a brief background about yourself?
Dennis: I’ve been surrounded by technology and design for as long as I can remember, and things really haven’t changed. I got my BFA in Graphic Design at the University of Florida in 2004 and have been working in various advertising agencies and web boutiques in the city of Jacksonville for the last two years.
Jason: Ever since spending countless late nights in America Online 3.0 on mom’s Gateway computer I have been interested in the web. I graduated in 2005 with a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of North Florida. After graduating I have been working for the ATP, where I maintain the internet’s largest professional tennis website.
Allen: Where did the idea for Only Human come from and how does the service work?
Dennis: I was one of the founders of a company called design:related, a social network for designers, back in December 2005. Fast forward nine months later and things weren’t going as great as I’d hoped. Long story short, Matt, the other founder, and I had different visions on where the site was going and I finally decided that it was best for design:related and me to leave the company. We’re still on good terms to this day and design:related is still reaching a public beta sometime soon.
So after nine months of giving my money, time and loads of work I was back at square one. I went through a month of just wondering what went wrong and really didn’t know where I was going. But they say everything happens for a reason. So from my experiences with design:related, I got this idea for a social app where people could share their mistakes and their advice to others. I had so much advice to give at this point in my life, I wanted a place to share them with like-minded people.
So I took the idea to the FOWA in San Francisco and asked a lot of people what they thought. I got a unanimous thumbs up from almost everyone I talked to. Beyond that peer validation, I also noticed a strange thing when I analyzed the speaker’s presentations. Most of them used mistakes they’ve made as learning devices. In fact, it was used everywhere after I took the time to look for it. It was all starting to come together.
I had one last dinner with Jason when I got back and pitched him the idea. Without a hesitation, he said he loved it. Now you gotta understand, Jason is a hard person to impress and I really respect his opinion. So when he said “yes”, that was the last spark I needed to get things going and create Only Human.
We incorporated as Thought & Theory in Sept. 06 and made Only Human the first project in the cue. Three months later we’ve launched the site and the response has been incredible.
Allen: Why do you believe people will share their stories about failure online?
Dennis: The most successful people in the world make mistakes everyday. Steve Jobs makes mistakes. Michael Jordan makes mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. We’re all human. The primary reason people are successful is that they work through their mistakes and make less and less as they get older. So what Only Human provides is a platform for people to pass on that knowledge to others.
Jason: You’ve also got to understand that failure and mistakes are not the same thing. Failure is when someone has made a mistake and hasn’t learned from it. Only Human is about telling others what you learned from your mistakes and how you’ve moved on.
Allen: Can you share some information about your users? Any good stories so far?
Dennis: We really have a mixed bag of users on the site. We have some very serious users who are posting great content that can really help people. Then we have users who really just want to be heard and want to express themselves through funny stories about everyday events. They both have their place on the site and it was interesting to see things pan out the way they did.
Personally I’ve found the most interesting stories were ones that I could relate to. There’s just this natural attraction to hearing about people experiencing the same types of things that you have in your life. I find myself pretty much addicted to the relationship category but don’t know why.
Jason: It’s funny to sit back and read some of these stories. You learn lessons about things you never thought you’d ever get yourself into and you are glad you now know what NOT to do! You can’t help but check the stats, comments and lessons learned from your own stories as well.
Allen: What’s the team and environment like at Only Human?
Dennis: We each have our own set of skill-sets that complement each other and for the most part we all work remotely. Meetings entail 1 hour over some food once a week and the rest of the time we keep in contact through email and just trust that everyone is doing their job.
I’ve worked in a lot of places before but nothing has clicked like this. Its the joy of knowing that I can trust everyone to do their job to their full potential.
Jason: We are all very honest and straight forward with each other which I think helps a lot. Being passionate about the same idea helps get our creative juices flowing and we try to push one another as much as possible.
Allen: How do you monetize Only Human?
Jason: There is a fine line between influential advertising and throwing any and everything on the site to make money. We believe strongly that the advertising used should relate as closely to the site as possible. We are working on a couple of unique advertising solutions that should benefit our users while keeping the integrity of the site.
Allen: Who are your competitors?
Dennis: We really don’t have any direct competitors that are doing the same thing we’re doing. Its the main reason we chose this concept. That being said, there are some advice sites that we feel are in the same ball-park. Sites like Yahoo Answers and 43things.com aren’t really direct competitors, but we respect what they’ve done and strive to become as successful. We are just doing it in our own way.
Jason: I think this idea is what the web is coming to, which is complete honesty and willingness to share information. Most people have a lot of reservations about sharing mistakes they’ve made and we want to break down those barriers so that they can give advice to others before they make the same mistakes.
Allen: What’s next for Only Human?
Dennis: We have a feature-list about 5 pages long that we want to implement in 1-month sprints during this year. If you like the concept now, I promise you you’ll love it in the next few months as we start integrating more ways to interact with otheres and share your story.
Here’s some features coming out in February:
1. Better sorting of stories
2. Relating your Story to another Story
3. RSS Feeds
Allen: I noticed that you posted your launch plans day-by-day on your blog. How did that workout, any good feedback about things to do differently next time?
Dennis: If there’s anything we do, I hope that the little stumbling blocks and setbacks that we encounter provide the advice and information needed for someone to create their own startup. It really goes along with the philosophy behind Only Human.
As far as what advice we could give during the process, I’d just say check out this link and it’ll give you exactly the information you’re looking for.
Jason: I hope that a lot of people take the time to sit down and do this for themselves. It may seem mundane at the time and you may not feel like you have a lot to talk about, but you would be surprised about how useful the information you write down can become to other people launching their own site.
Allen: What are the top 1-2 things you have learned since you started working on Only Human?
Dennis: A lesson i’ve learned is that having the right people with you means more than having the most talented. I was blessed to find both really talented people and people that I could work with and trust. So if there’s one thing I could tell people is that to take the time to find those “right” people.
Jason: Be flexible and be flexible! You have to not get caught up in trying to set everything in stone (business plan, marketing plan etc). You have to be able to change things on the fly to adapt to whatever you need to accomplish your goals.
Allen: What are the most important things that a startup must have to be successful?
Dennis: A thick skin to deal with all the criticisms and a massive amount of passion. We have the benefit of being able to work on something we’re passionate about, not just something to pays the bills. You’d be surprised how many problems fix themselves or just go away when everyone really believes in what they do.
Jason: Set your goals and find ways to achieve them. Also, listen to your user-base and create a plan to implement their feedback. At the end of the day, if you don’t listen to your users your site won’t be successful.
Allen: Which Web apps besides Only Human do you believe is a star?
Dennis: I love Digg. Its one of those sites you can check 5 times a day and never really get tired of. Its funny because I actually remember the Screen Savers show where Kevin Rose debuted the site. Crazy how things change over a couple of years.
As far as local Jacksonville startups, I really like Tickspot.com, made by the Molehill, for its simplicity and great interface. Its a time-tracking app that was released this past year and we love using it.
But the one app I couldn’t live without is Facebook. I went to college when it first started and UF was one of the first schools that got to use it. Its one of those apps that you can see yourself using 5 years down the road. How many sites can you say that about these days?
Jason: Only Human is a great one.. wait, oh yeah, sorry. I am a Reddit and Facebook user, but love to try out new and up-and-coming web apps.
The team over at Thought & Theory have released their first application today. Only Human allows you to share stories about your mistakes, failures and things that may not have gone the way you expected. By sharing your stories, you help others to learn and not make the same mistakes. Other users can leave comments on ways to help avoid the same mistakes and failures and they can also say they made the same mistake.
I think it's an interesting concept with a great design and lots of Web 2.0 and Ajax features. Share your mistakes so you and others can learn from them.
Check out my video review of Only Human below