DANIEL ALTMANN, 25
ERIC POSEN, 24
Laffster, an Internet company specializing in humor, Santa Monica
EMPLOYEES: Four full time; two freelancers.
FINANCIALS: Recently closed a $750,000 seed round.
What led you to start your own company?
Altmann: I spent way too much time watching and sharing “Saturday Night Live” skits and other funny clips online. I began to notice how far along music and news were in personalization and discovery, while comedy – this widely shared and watched category – didn’t have much tech behind it. We started researching market size and where we could innovate and set out to make finding funny content part of my actual job description.
Posen: Always had a passion for technology and have had an interest for entrepreneurship since middle school, starting little businesses here and there. Saw a fit to bring tech to a category that had very little of it and went for it. When you know, you know.
Where did you get the startup money?
Altmann: We started with MuckerLab’s initial investment as part of their first class. From there we went on to raise our seed round from Greylock Partners, Paradigm Entertainment, Adam Nash, Howard Lindzon and other great angel investors.
What was the biggest challenge?
Altmann: Creating a pitch for the product that my parents and grandparents could understand. Still working on that one.
Posen: Trying to avoid becoming addicted to coffee. Too many late nights and early mornings, so I didn’t win that battle.
What was the most important lesson you learned?
Altmann: When we were starting out we wanted to encode emails with a nondisclosure agreement so our thoughts and concepts we needed feedback on were protected. We quickly learned the benefits of sharing and getting great advice from as many smart people as possible greatly outweighs any minor risks associated.
Posen: Launch early and often.
How many hours a day do you put in?
Altmann: Depends on the week and the mission at hand. Sounds corny but when you’re working on something you love you’re focusing more on getting things done and not on hours.
Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers or meet with clients and investors?
Altmann: Usually the age thing reveals itself when someone mentions a show or comedian I’ve never heard of. The typical response is usually, “Damn it, I wish I was 25 again. You better enjoy it while you can, buddy.”
Posen: Usually the age thing when brought up is a benefit. We are the consumers of the products we build so our investors and clients appreciate that perspective a lot.
Will you start another company?
Altmann: I would absolutely be open to it as long as it’s something I care about and it’s in an area that needs innovation. Have learned so much this time around I am really looking forward to applying next time.
Could you ever work for someone else?
Altmann: If the right opportunity arose where I could learn from smart people and create something meaningful in the process then I would definitely be open to it.
Posen: No. 1 goal for me is to be the best product leader possible. If that means working for someone else, then I would definitely be up for it.
What do you do to relax?
Altmann: When I can I try to play basketball or squash. Been getting into yoga quite a bit recently as well.
Posen: Play guitar, see friends, go to bars, concerts and comedy shows. I’m a really big fan of Meltdown and UCB.
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