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Welcome back to our final installment of the Bend the Curve blog series on Techstars.com! We are excited to share with you the newest book for entrepreneurs, Bend the Curve, authored by Andrew Razeghi. (More about Andrew below.) In this handbook for entrepreneurs, Andrew has captured the brilliance and insights of over a dozen of our most sought-after mentors. Everyone from first-time entrepreneurs to seasoned veterans will find useful, practical advice from other founders that you can use on your journey.

Over the past several weeks, we have been releasing short excerpts from the book including stories of entrepreneur success and failure. Today, read about Emerson Spartz, who began his entrepreneurial journey at age 12. We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the lives of startup founders. To order the book, visit: http://bendthecurve.co/

Bend the Curve
Chapter 12: The Science of Going Viral

The words projected on the screen behind him set the tone for what’s to come. Hi! I’m Emerson Spartz. I want to change the world. Emerson Spartz speaks with the cadence of a man on a mission. He talks fast—really fast—as if his tongue is in a race to catch up with his brain. His tongue has no chance. Spartz wastes no time, knows what works, and is generous in sharing it. He—along with his team at Spartz, Inc.—has turned the art of virality into a science, a science he began studying at a very early age.

At 12 years old, Emerson Spartz convinced his parents to let him drop out of school to homeschool himself. A month later, he created a website called MuggleNet, a Harry Potter fan site that quickly drew over 50 million page views per month. “I had to grow up really fast,” Spartz recalls. “Through MuggleNet, I was managing a part-paid, part-volunteer staff of 120 people. I learned how to code, how to write, how to lead, how to edit, and how to design. We published three books, one of which became a New York Times bestseller. The success of MuggleNet allowed me to represent the fans at a press conference with J.K. Rowling. It went extremely viral because she rarely does interviews.

Spartz combined his early success with an insatiable appetite for the study of influence, which became the foundation of his company. Spartz, now 27, is co-founder of Spartz, Inc. along with his wife Gaby, she too a once-precocious 12-year- old founder. Her site, Daily Cute, is a website of images of baby animals. As Emerson recalls from when he met her as classmates at Notre Dame, “I hit the jackpot!

Both MuggleNet and Daily Cute are now two of what is a growing portfolio of Spartz Media websites and apps that collectively draw over 17 million readers and over 25 million followers on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Spartz now launches a new property once every six weeks. Among the properties he’s launched over the years are GivesMeHope, Memestache, OMG Facts, Unfriendable, As Failed on TV, SmartphOWNED, Dose, in addition to new mobile apps in gaming (Blanks) and dating (Twirl). Spartz now has nearly forty people working for him full-time including data scientists, web developers, and editors. Together, Spartz, Inc. media properties educate, inspire, and entertain over 100 million people every month.

Spartz is in the business of virality. Using predictive science to measure viral potential, Spartz can predict the likelihood of a piece of content going viral or not. Thus far, Spartz Media has a 90 percent success rate. Spartz refers to his proprietary algorithm as an “awesomeness meter.”

In this chapter, we’ll talk about:

  • The science of virality
  • Making stuff go viral
  • Really useful techniques you should use

I liked that. Give me more. To order the book: http://bendthecurve.co/

About the Author

Andrew Razeghi is  an educator, author, speaker, consultant and angel investor. He is a limited partner in Techstars and integrally involved in the Chicago program. Andrew is a lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is also founder & managing director of StrategyLab, Inc., a growth strategy & innovation consulting group.

Andrew is a contributor on the topic of innovation for a series of shows on The Travel Channel and is the author of several books including The Future of Innovation, The Upside of Down: Innovation through Recessions, and The Riddle: Where Ideas Come From and How to Have Better Ones. The Riddlewas chosen by Fast Company as one of its “Smart Books.” You can reach Andrew by email at andrew@strategylab.com or follow him on twitter @andrewrazeghi.

Kerri Beers
Director of Marketing at Techstars

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