The Third Degree

5 1/2 Questions for Bnter’s Lauren Leto

Lauren Leto is co-founder of Texts from Last Night and Bnter.

Q: What are the best and worst things about New York’s tech scene?

Best: I run into fellow entrepreneurs all over the city! Worst: I run into fellow entrepreneurs all over the city!

Q: What’s the next tech revolution that’s coming?

A: The current trends online have me thinking it’ll probably be cats made of bacon.

However, it’s the movement away from Facebook which interests me. I think the days of filling in the blank on social profiles are long gone. People are building their identities through more personal platforms. Facebook is too stagnant to convey anyone’s personality and as users start to realize how much richer their network is through sites which focus on genuine representation, they’ll drift away. The only reason I still have a Facebook profile is to update the fan pages for TFLN and Bnter.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge facing Bnter right now? What can you isolate that will make or break you?

We have to make uploading a conversation as easy as snapping a picture. We believe Bnter is most analogous to a photo application, except the memories are textual instead of visual. We’re utilizing every piece of technology possible to make the capturing of moments seamless and we’re trying to develop it as fast as possible. We just added a bookmarklet, under http://bnter.com/tools, which can pull from GChat, Facebook chat, Foursquare comments, GroupMe’s web interface and Campfire chats. We’re working on Twitter and Formspring import. We’re also developing an Android application which can easily publish chosen texts by pulling them into the app. Soon, we will even be able to turn screenshots of your texts into Bnter posts.

Q: When does a company stop being a start-up?

A: When they have an equal number of women on the staff – heyyyyo.

As they start to hire more non-technical people, because engineers seem to be mostly male and they don’t really hire non-tech people until they’re growing.

Q: What is the best idea you’ve had that would never get funded?

A: I thought we were in a tech bubble. I thought even an iPhone app which made barking sounds that somewhat sound like random Midwestern cities could get beaucoup bucks (mobile!) (geo-location!). However, I still haven’t been able to get angels in on a zipcar for puppies idea.

Q: Free form! Fill in the blank: Viral is…

Viral is unpredictable. I’ve made sites which I thought instantly they’d take off and they bombed. I’ve made sites which I thought were nothing and they exploded. Jonah Peretti gave a great talk at ROFLCon last year where he compared the chances of “going viral” to the chances of starting a forest fire by dropping one lit match. The conditions have to be just right and you can’t control any of it.

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