Not too far down the street from Minted are the offices of another Eph-founded start-up called Peanut Labs, where I met with two of the company’s founders, Prosper Nwankpa ’04 and Murti Hussain ’08. Ali Moiz ’06, Murti’s brother and the third co-founder was out of town. The three guys started Peanut Labs as a way to help market researchers use social media to gather more meaningful data and also to help sites monetize their social networks. Though they created their current company in 2007, they have a long history of entrepreneurialism that goes back to their days at Williams and some long nights Jessup’s labs.
It’s crazy to think that when I started college in 2003, social media, for the most part, didn’t exist. I had heard murmurs about Friendster and MySpace, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year that Facebook exploded onto the scene and the vernacular of social media entered our culture. At the time though, my focus was more on my Art History coursework and intramural soccer than what was happening in the world of online media. Over in Dodd however, Prosper and Ali were cooking up plans for a start-up and Murti, Ali’s younger brother, would join them soon.
What I admire about their start-up history is that they let their ideas evolve alongside the internet’s changing landscape. Their first vision was for a peer-to-peer news-sharing site, but that evolved into an events calendar, which became a social network, which eventually became Peanut Labs. Clearly, my one-sentence summary is an oversimplification of the events that transpired over the years. But, the point is, they kept at it, kept creating. Each of their creations had its success and failures and the team continued to parlay their learnings into the next venture. Their enthusiasm for start-ups is contagious. I leave their offices thinking I should have a start-up of my own. Too bad I know nothing about the internet. But at least now I have some new friends that can teach me!