[quote style=”boxed”]I’m a big believer that “everything happens for a reason.” If I had done something differently I might not be exactly where I am right now![/quote]
Stacey Ferreira, a 19-year old freshman at New York University, is a co-founder of MySocialCloud.com, a technology startup that allows people to: store their usernames and passwords for all their websites for auto-login, and share websites with friends easily. During her senior year of high school at Xavier College Preparatory in Scottsdale, Arizona, she started the company with her brother, Scott. They recently raised a round of seed funding totaling just under $1 million from Sir Richard Branson (the Virgin Group), Jerry Murdock (Insight Venture Partners) and Alex Welch (CEO and founder of Photobucket) to build out their product and release it to the public.
What are you working on right now?
I am working with nine other people to create a website, MySocialCloud.com, that allows people to store online content and websites they love into organized, personal lists on the cloud. It also allows users to auto-login to every website they store that requires a username and password, and randomly generates safe passwords for all of these accounts.
Where did the idea for MySocialCloud.com come from?
It all started because of a simple problem: clicking the “forgot password” button on way too many websites. During high school, my brother and I started to live a fraction of our lives online (like most people do these days), by no fault of our own. Schools required us to have multiple online accounts to check homework assignments, check our grades and collaborate with other students. Social pressures required us to create Facebook, FormSpring, email and MySpace accounts. And as the Internet changed and new websites were created, we had to make more and more accounts.
It became impossible to remember all our usernames and passwords. So we started keeping Excel spreadsheets of our passwords, which, admittedly, were cumbersome to open every time we wanted to access a website. They were, however, better than writing on sticky notes and sticking them to our computer monitors.
After a fatal computer crash, my brother’s Excel spreadsheet was lost. This gave us the idea to store username and password information securely on the cloud, and to create a website that allowed us to auto-login to all of our other websites in a hassle-free way.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day is completely different, as we’re working on building something new so we’re constantly coming up with new ideas to make our features better or testing new features (from a product standpoint). From a business standpoint, every day is extremely different as well. Some days we’ll be working on our campaigns or social media, and on other days we’ll be filling out paperwork or taking calls with our investors. It really depends on what is pressing.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First, I generally discuss the idea with friends or with my team, and write the outline of the idea on my huge whiteboard wall–to make sure the idea makes sense, not only in my brain, but also in real life. Then I just sit down and start hashing out the idea and working to make it possible. If you don’t simply start working, you waste a lot of time trying to think things over and over, when in reality, you typically end up with a concept that’s very different from your original idea anyway. So I just sit down and start working.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’m constantly hearing ideas from younger entrepreneurs who have visions for web businesses that will eventually impact not only our interactions online, but also the way we incorporate the Internet and technology into our interactions with one another in real life–generating outstanding commercial, political and societal impact. With this trend, there is an emphasis on how the Internet and other technology can work on a large scale to create more efficient communities worldwide (rather than within the realm of a computer screen), which is extremely exciting.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad job.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Absolutely nothing. I’m a big believer that “everything happens for a reason.” If I had done something differently I might not be exactly where I am right now!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Have fun with your team! There’s nothing like great team bonding. We try to plan a team outing (entirely with no talk of work) once a month. It’s great to get away and get to know everyone on your team in a setting outside of the office. In the end it influences the work you do together.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest problems I encountered as an entrepreneur was time management when I was trying to balance taking classes at NYU, working on MySocialCloud (we had investors during that time), being active with school activities, and having a social life. Luckily, there was always a “light at the end of the tunnel,” which was summer. During that time my only job was to work. So I kept pushing myself to finish my freshman year strongly by documenting where I spent my time and cutting out the unnecessary actions that resulted in a loss of valuable time. While this time was stressful and always hectic, I learned firsthand how important every minute is and how to “work smart” to make the most of my time.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Someone should come up with a customer care product like Olark that has an integrated NLP package in it.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would want all governments to get along so that we don’t have to worry about issues like war or even visas for traveling to other countries. We’re all citizens of this earth, and I think that should be more widely realized. In order to build relationships with other countries, I’d first have to start learning other languages and traveling to countries to get to know the cultures, so I’d start there.
Tell us a secret.
Gnomeo and Juliet is secretly one of my favorite movies.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?:
- MySocialCloud (shameless plug). I can’t, for the life of me, remember usernames and passwords. This helps me manage all of mine.
- Twitter allows me to talk to people from all over the world. It’s completely fascinating, and I’ve met so many amazing people through it.
- Meebo Messenger. I secretly love the Meebo messenger “contact us” on my website, and I like talking to people that have questions or comments about the site. This tool tells you about the people viewing your website too, so I feel like some sort of spy. It’s really awesome!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One of my all-time favorite books is Never Eat Alone by Tahl Raz. I first read this book when I was 17 years old, and it gave me a whole new perspective on people. It taught me that every person, from the janitor of your apartment building to Bill Gates, has important lessons and life stories to share that are worth learning from. It has inspired me to try to connect with everyone who reaches out to me, and to listen to everyone’s story.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- Sir Richard Branson tweets about some amazing happenings occurring all across the world and inspires you to try harder and work beyond your best.
- Matthew Inman provides a daily dose of hilariousness condensed into wonderful tweets and amazing comics.
- Andrew Rauh is an overall amazing kid (he works at Path, teaches an iOS class at UMich, goes to school, etc) who tweets about technology. If you ever have a question, he’ll respond to your tweets and spend time getting to know you!
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Yesterday, when I was talking to my friend about 3D printers. I can’t remember exactly what he said about 3D printers that was so funny; I just remember laughing so hard I could barely breathe!
Who is your hero?
My brother and co-founder, Scott. He always encourages me to be the best person I can be, face challenges head on and inspire the world through my own creations.
How did you meet Sir Richard Branson and secure almost a $1 million investment from him, Jerry Murdock and Alex Welch–at only 18 years old?
Long story short, Richard Branson sent out a tweet to come meet him in Miami for the 25th anniversary of Virgin Atlantic. I responded to the Tweet and spent two days in Miami at two parties he hosted. We were able to talk over the course of the two days, and stayed connected after that weekend. After updating him on the progress of the business, over the course of a couple weeks, he introduced us to Jerry Murdock, who decided he would invest in us, as would Sir Richard Branson! They invested just under $1 million together in August of 2011. A few months later, Jerry introduced us to Alex Welch (of Photobucket), who also decided to invest and act as a mentor for us.
As far as obtaining investments, your passion for your idea and the team with which you choose to build a company can go a long way! Scott, Shiv and I have had an extreme passion for MySocialCloud over the past year, and we’ve immersed ourselves in it completely. I think this determination, passion and drive, without a doubt, contributed to us getting investments from Sir Richard Branson, Jerry Murdock and Alex Welch.
Why did you decide to major in music business if you’re so interested in technology?
I’ve always loved music and concerts. I went to GRAMMY Camp for two summers in high school and absolutely loved learning about the production and promotion of concerts, so I decided that it would be extremely fun to learn more about the music industry.
Stacey Ferreira on LinkedIn:
Stacey Ferreira on Twitter: @staceyferreira
Stacey Ferreira on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thestaceyferreira
MySocialCloud’s website: www.mysocialcloud.com
Stacey Ferreira’s blog: staceyferreira.me
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.