It’s no secret that there’s a ton of information available at our fingertips. But, in a world where we’ve got everything but time, the ability to find the best information, as fast as possible is what we look for. Vancouver startup Notey is making some noise, having recently raised $1.6 Million to bring original, relevant content from around the web to users.
Who are you? Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.
Kevin: Catherine (my wife) and I are the founders of Notey, a topic-based discovery platform which features a collection of the world’s top independent publishers and bloggers.
The platform is beautiful, easy-to-use and very browsable. Notey is the go-to destination for the blogosphere with stories on over 500,000 topics (on everything from Vancouver and Startups to Travel).
Catherine: The idea came from our own experience while we tried to search for travel blogs on Google. Not only were the results ugly and non-relevant, they just weren’t browsable or inspirational – which is what you want to experience when you’re looking for travel blogs!
That was our lightbulb moment.
We figured – if it was this hard to find the best travel blogs, then there are probably millions of others with the same problem. Eureka, we had found it.
What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?
Kevin: Staying focused and filtering through the noise. We’ve gone for over 300 coffees in 12 countries over the last two years, and have consequently received a lot of advice. The challenge here is thoroughly filtering through the feedback and figuring out who to listen to, what their perspective is on their world versus our world and then finally, listening to them.
Catherine: What we’ve learned: the best advice comes from those who have “been there, done that,” people who currently are or have been entrepreneurs themselves.
What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?
Catherine: There are over 150 million online publishers and a new article is created every 30 seconds. How does anyone filter through it all? That’s where Notey comes in.
Notey focuses on the independent publishers and bloggers over mainstream media (which is already over served!). It’s the hidden-gems of the internet that make the world interesting and we’re dedicated to bring them to the fore.
We also cater to those who have FOMO! Users can subscribe for daily or weekly updates on any topic, virtually (pun intended!) never missing a story.
How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what are some of life’s challenges you have overcome to give you the confidence to succeed?
Kevin: I always had the itch to shake things up. I’ve competed in over 100 mountain marathons and the Gobi Desert Multi-Day Race – twice. I left banking in 2010 and became a Clinical Hypnotherapist (no joke). I also founded a luxury events company in 2011. I guess you could say I’m a multi-passionate individual and building a platform like Notey, a multi-interest network, has always been in the making. Having a ‘nothing is impossible’ and a ‘get the f*** out of my way’ mindset is crucial to succeed in any venture or personal project. That – and knowing that I’d just go back to ‘regular life’ if things didn’t work out.
Catherine: During my investment banking days, my ‘after hours’ ventures always excited me the most. From chairing the Women’s Networking Group to sitting on the board of an educational non-profit, I knew I would be happier building an organization of my own one day. It was also my love of travel that would lead me down the entrepreneur route. I’d definitely say that ‘question everything’ has been an effective mantra for me.
What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?
Catherine: We couldn’t function without Google Docs, Slack or Skype. We’ve been using a new tool for group video calls https://appear.in/ which has been pretty cool too.
I’ve learnt to always be pitching. We’re always ready to talk about Notey. It doesn’t matter whether an individual is a potential investor, brand partner or user – everyone has interests and all of these interests are in Notey (seriously, search for Kale or Avocados). We’ve spoken to people on planes, at bars and even in parks.
What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
- If you think you’re working hard, there’s a single mother of three working harder. There’s no such thing as hustling too hard or following rules. Understand best practices but generally take the ‘get the f— out of my way’ attitude and make things happen. Excuses are for “nontrepreneurs.”
- Meet as many people as you can and never pay for advice or a connection. Invest in and build social capital – at the end of the day, it’s people that you hire, people that buy your product and people that invest in you so be both a connector and a good human being.
- Always be closing. Practice your pitch with anyone and everyone. If you find yourself lost or overcomplicating things, deconstruct it to its core, and put it in the simplest form you can – brevity is key.
What Vancouver celebrity/influencer would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Kevin: We’re super lucky to have Ryan Holmes and a couple other tech mavens on board. While they’re fantastic, these two people would be awesome: Chip Wilson and Ryan Reynolds.
Chip has amassed a following of 10 to 20+ million people obsessed with exploring, getting fit and talking about Lululemon. While he’s a global thinker and knows how to inspire people from all over the world, he can build a brand, a business and make money too.
Ryan is current and always has been. That’s tough in Hollywood when there’s a fresh supply of new talent each year. Not many celebrities can pull off getting into Tech and earning the respect of that community but while Ryan and his wife Blake are great actors, Ryan’s an expert at social media and Blake just started a blog / e-commerce site called Preserve.us. They’re no doubt visible but smart, creative and looking at taking things up a notch. They’d definitely bring something unique to our team.
Chip, Ryan – give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org, last one’s a rotten egg.
Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to casey(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.