Research is the process of collecting reams of evidence and analysis and corroborating facts, until you reach a very precise and unique summary of the truth.
The web is a copy within a copy within more copies of itself, meaning that when you are trying to keep track of what you have read, and what you are making the web just becomes a universe of folders and files, endlessly getting tangled and lost.. Imagine how this methodof production can create frustration in any researcher.
That’s why there is WikiPacks. Here is a first person account of why Miki Rappoport created WikiPacks for research, but also why he became an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship the Second Time Around
Our “aha” moment came when my brother and I realized that the problems we had with online research were shared with many other, equally frustrated, people, maybe even you. The more research you do, the more tabs you create in your browser. To save those pages, you create more and more folders. There’s no real organization to the tabs or the folders, and you seldom go back to them, anyway. It’s a poor solution for someone who wants to save, organize, and share subject-specific content.
That’s the problem we’ve solved with WikiPacks, the company we founded. Some of our customers describe WikiPacks as “Reddit meets Delicious,” or “Reddit meets Spotify,” and that begins to give you the idea. People can create their own collections of links, which we call “packs,” or use the growing number of packs that we offer. They can keep their custom packs private, share them with a specific community, or offer them to the public at large. They can filter links, create a mash-up of feeds that add content automatically, and add comments, voting, and other features.
Some people hesitate to start a company, for fear they might fail. So why did we do it? I did it in part because I’d already failed with a startup. Sound counterintuitive? It’s not. My second time around, I knew what problems to avoid—including the type of partner to avoid. In Eli, a genius coder, I have an ideal partner and complement to my own expertise in platform technologies. Moreover, both of us were born in Russia and raised in Israel—two centers for technology entrepreneurship. If starting a business wasn’t in our blood, it was certainly in the air we breathed from a very early age.
Cloud computing is the engine behind WikiPacks; like most startups today, we never considered throwing money we didn’t have at an on-premise infrastructure. Moreover, our “must haves”—high availability, low latency, and immediate scalability—meant that we needed a premium platform, despite our tight budget. I’d used Amazon Web Services and S3 before and didn’t want to do so again; the learning curve was too high. We’d never used Windows Azure but people who did said it would meet our requirements.
They were right. Windows Azure proved its value right away: When we ran an online ad campaign and saw a sudden surge of traffic, we were able to scale up on the fly. It worked great.
As part of our Windows Azure adoption, we also joined Microsoft’s BizSpark program for startups. We had free use of Windows Azure and, even at discounted rates, we run on Windows for about the cost of Linux on other platforms—and for about half the cost of Windows hosting anywhere else. Add in the marketing support and business networking, and BizSpark is unlike anything else we’ve seen.
We see Windows Azure helping us grow for years to come. When we’re ready to build phone and tablet apps, we can do so using Windows Azure Mobile Services. When our use of media expands, we can use Windows Azure Media Services and CDN. So many aspects of running a startup are unpredictable. Fortunately, the value of Windows Azure isn’t one of them.