E138: Ranjith Kumaran of PunchTab on This Week in Startups

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TWiST #138 with Ranjith Kumaran of PunchTab

Are you a blogger, website publisher or just a reader who loves rewards? Then put PunchTab on your radar. Former YouSendIt co-founder Ranjith Kumaran’s new startup lets you create an instant loyalty program for your website or blog in just a few clicks. On today’s show, Jason asks Ranjith about his inspiration for the service, where he sees it heading and how he controls gaming of the system. Jason also takes an ‘Ask Jason’ call from Nasser AlNasser in Saudi Arabia, who has a timely question about domain extensions.

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To read more background on Ranjith and PunchTab, visit bit.ly/TWISTepisode138.

1:30-6:00 Welcome and introduction.
6:00-6:45 GoToMeeting ad.
6:45-8:45 Reminder about the TWiST List producer’s program.
8:45-10:00 Introduction of Ranjith Kumaran, former co-founder of YouSendIt and current co-founder of PunchTab.
10:00-10:30 Are you still involved with YouSendIt?
10:30-10:45 How big are the biggest files you can share?
10:45-11:30 Is the current Internet infrastructure really able to handle that?
11:30-12:00 Tell me about the new company. When did you come up with the idea and what is it?
12:00-12:45 Ranjith tells the story about YouSendIt and the Osama Bin Laden beheading video. (Watch the clip.)
13:15-14:15 Tell us the basic concept of PunchTab.
14:15-14:45 This is typically for content sites like blogs?
14:45-15:15 Jason and Ranjith look at ModSentry.com, a site using PunchTab.
15:15-16:30 Is it a gray area, in terms of people getting rewarded, for people to ‘like’ something on Facebook?
16:30-17:15 So I post a Facebook comment and then I get to 300 points?
17:15-17:45 How long has the product been out?
17:45-18:00 How are you getting the word out about it?
18:00-19:00 Has anyone ever done anything like this before?
19:00-21:00 How do you keep yourself from the gaming of the system?
21:00-24:30 Discussion of PunchTab’s new give-away raffle widget.
24:30-26:15 How does the site make money?
26:15-27:00 Are you charging users yet?
27:00-28:00 Are you going to raise a venture round? What’s the long-term plan and vision? (Watch the clip.)
29:00-31:30 Jason tells an anecdote about a run-in his father had with the mob.
31:30-33:00 Squarespace ad.
33:00-34:15 Ask Jason call from Nasser AlNasser in Saudi Arabia: Is it a must to have a dot com domain if you want to have a top site?
34:15-36:00 Quick answer: Fake it til you make it. Read Jason’s post on the subject, ‘How to Name Your Startup’ here and Fred Wilson’s article ‘Finding and Buying a Domain Name‘ from his blog, AVC.
36:00-37:45 Look at the example of Delicious. Tyler, your thoughts?
37:45-39:15 Dot com will always be the gold standard of domain extensions and its going to push things further and further up. (Watch the clip.)
39:15-40:45 Is there a big startup scene in Saudi Arabia?
40:45-41:45 What’s the climate there with Osama Bin Laden’s death?
41:45-42:15 What’s the feeling about the US mission in Pakistan?
42:15-43:00 How is democracy manifesting itself in Saudi Arabia?
43:30-44:00 What’s the Saudi Arabia domain extension?
45:00-46:30 Further discussion of Osama Bin Laden and the U.S. operation.
46:30-47:30 Thank you to Ranjith and information about how to get in contact with the PunchTab team.
47:30-48:00 Thank you to GoToMeeting and Squarespace.

Multilingual? Translate this episode of TWiST into another language and email the transcript to translate@thisweekin.com

Background on Ranjith Kumaran and PunchTab

About Ranjith

  • Co-founded PunchTab in Janurary of this year with Mehdi Ait Oufkir, his former YouSendIt colleague
  • Previously was co-founder and head of Mergers and Acquisitions at YouSendIt (still sits on the board there)
  • Past positions also include Product Marketer at Verisity Design, Director of Sales Engineering at Celoxica and Software Systems Engineer at Red Hat
  • Loves working at early-stage statups
  • Says the inspiration to start his own company came from wanting to build “something that I could use, my parents could use, my peers could use”
  • Canadian; charter member of C100, an organization representing the top 100 accomplished Canadian entrepreneurs in SV
  • Ranjith’s friend from school, Chamath Palihapitiya (Facebook), is on PunchTab’s board

About PunchTab

  • Launched private beta on March 10, 2011 in Menlo Park
  • Instant loyalty tool for websites and blogs
  • 200 sites signed up initially, 100 implemented the service, 30-40 are current users
  • Free to join, authenticates users through Facebook Connect
  • Earn reward points for likes, page views and comments that users redeem for whatever items the publisher chooses (schwag, gift cards, etc)
  • The 30-day leaderboard shows users how they measure up to one another and lets publishers can see who their super-fans are
  • Publishers can also use the newly-launched contest widget that lets users can earn raffle tickets by taking specific actions; drawings for prizes are held at end of the contest
  • PunchTab has 4 employees, but is actively recruiting for other positions
  • Raised one round for an undisclosed sum from undisclosed investors
  • Ranjith says they’re “trying to build organically” before raising another round

Sites Using PunchTab

FOLLOW ON TWITTER

Jason: @jason
Tyler: @steepdecline
Ranjith: @ranjithkumaran
PunchTab: @punchtab

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