Philip Cortes is the co-founder of Meeteor.com, a company he founded while at Wharton’s entrepreneurship program. During his time working in the corporate world, Philip realized that although an immense amount of information about people’s networks was available on the web, there weren’t any services that used the information to guide professional networking. Meeteor was born in response to this realization and founded with a classmate at Wharton. Philip was kind enough to speak with us as soon as he got back home to San Francisco from a cross-country road trip he was on. Things are happening pretty quickly over there, as the company is expanding and relocating from the Bay Area to Seattle. Business Insider also recently named Philip to their list of the “Sexiest Startup CEO’s On Earth.”
Interview after the jump
What exactly is Meeteor?
Meeteor is a service that introduces you to people you don’t know, but should know. We leverage info from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to identify people who you went to school with, worked with, have the same passions as.
Where did the idea for Meeteor come from?
I was sitting at my desk – I used to work at Bloomberg – I saw that there was a huge need for networking, but that it was hard to do. I thought LinkedIn did it, but found out it was a terrible networking platform. For instance, in terms of meeting somebody new, that person may not come up in your search, or you have to pay to email them a message that they might not read since most people don’t use LinkedIn for networking. Nonetheless, I realized there was definitely enough data out there to do to it effectively.
A networking site requires a pretty large critical user mass right? How are you dealing with that?
Well, critical mass can happen pretty quickly, especially in a given network. I think we have already hit critical mass at Wharton. Anybody who joins from Wharton can find relevant people. At this point, I feel like only 150 people in a network are needed for critical mass. But the new meteor will let you enter industry and business interests and will see which friend has the deepest connection at a specific company, which lowers the need for critical mass by giving people more precisely what they are looking for.
Can you tell us a little bit about your personal history with entrepreneurship?
Well I’ve been thinking of ideas and pitching my family on ideas since before I can remember. Ever since I was a kid, I new I wanted to be an entrepreneur and have my own company.
What are your daily responsibilities?
Im definitely the business, sales and general outreach person. Connecting with as many people as possible on the investment side. Getting as many people on meteor as possible.
What do you feel is the best part of running a startup?
I think I’m in love with the creativity of it, its such a creative process. You start dealing with problems that few other people have dealt with. I love the creative problem solving aspect of it all.
What do you feel is the worst part of running a startup?
The volatility and emotion is hard to deal with. Nobody ever talks about the emotional hardships of running a startup. Working for yourself, its hard to separate yourself from the product. At Bloomberg I was working for somebody else and failure was theirs. With Meeteor, every second of the day im thinking about it. Every time I pitch it, I am emotionally involved. Meteor is a product of me.
What tips might you give to someone thinking of starting a company? What are some things to avoid?
I would tell them that the notion of not sharing your idea because somebody will steal it is outdated. No idea is truly unique. If you have a given idea, then probably twenty people on the planet have it. The person who wins is going to share the idea and stay close to their consumer. You have to get word out there and get help and develop the idea.
You were in Wharton’s entrepreneurship program, what does a program like that provide for entrepreneurs?
Well, Wharton is becoming really supportive of startups – probably because they have had around a billion dollars in exits over the past four years. So the school started an incubator called the Venture Initiative Program. Its open to undergrads as well, and it gives entrepreneurs workspace, mentorship, and even sometimes awards some funding to startups. You don’t feel crazy for wanting to do entrepreneurship. The biggest thing of all is the network that people at Wharton are connected to.