I thought it would be easy… well, easy considering the material I had going into it – especially considering the fact that 16-year-old me was able to do it, as well as several other questionable companies. I would woo the writers with the TechCrunch-themed HTML5 game I made. 6 weeks, multiple writers contacted, and 0 posts later, I realize I was very wrong, not just about how ‘easy’ it would be, but whether it was necessary to begin with.
Clay.io is my baby, it’s a company I started back in January with Joe Vennix. Both of us have solid backgrounds considering our age (21) – our claims to fame: Joe developed Pizza Hut’s first iOS app, I was one of 4 at IntenseDebate when we were acquired by Automattic. What we’ve been building is a platform for HTML5 games (with Steam as our inspiration). It’s part cross-platform marketplace, part API for high scores, achievements, data storage, payments, etc.
Despite the fact that we don’t have funding, the main reason I thought we would be able to land a post is the TechCrunch-themed HTML5 game I developed. In my email to their tips line (as well as a few emails later to individual writers) I mentioned the game to get their attention, and also let them know they would be able to embed it directly into their article if they were to write one. Here it is embedded below – the game also works on mobile devices (link).
It wasn’t just the game… I thought we had a good story. There are three of us working on the company right now and we’re all University of Texas students. We’re in a startup accelerator class called 1 Semester Startup (yeah, we get credit to work on our company), have great office space provided by the University, and some fantastic mentors. Like I mentioned before, Joe and I also have fairly interesting backgrounds for our age – though, I suppose now, it’s not uncommon to see successful companies run by sub-21-year-olds.
If that wasn’t enough, we actually have a legitimate company in an exciting space with a proven revenue model (which should be the most important aspect, but for a TechCrunch article, I figured the fluff should be first). I know it’s clear to all of our current members and developers this isn’t just a hobby for us, and the site/API should reflect that as well. We started in January of this year, and have been able to keep things chugging along while the other student startups around us, and startups in general, have flickered on and off.
However, all of this wasn’t enough to get noticed, and that’s fine. I was completely wrong to think TechCrunch would be pivotal for Clay.io’s success. Sure, it’s a nice boost in traffic and new users for a day or two, and a bit of extra credibility, but by no means is it worth the effort I put into it. It’s a learning experience for me, and hopefully one for others reading this post.
If you’ve secured a decent round of funding for your hype-filled startup, then sure, it’s easy enough to get on TechCrunch… same goes if you have connections with the writers. Otherwise, tough luck! It’s not the end of the world. Continue to build your company and prove them wrong.