Frank Pica is the Director of Publisher and Audience Development at Lockerdome, an interest sharing website where readers can collect their favorite articles and online content and organize them under various headings.
Pica, voted last year as one of St. Louis's Men of the Year by 9's Magazine, has been with Lockerdome since 2012, and is a major reason behind the astronomical growth the site has seen over the last 6 months. We asked him 6 questions about how Lockerdome has grown and thrived as a startup outside of Silicon Valley.
Question 1. Tell us a little bit about Lockerdome, how the idea got started, how it's grown over the years, and where it is now.
Frank: We started as a social media platform that was trying to fill what we believed to be a gap in the everyday sports fans' lives.
Facebook connected classmates which eventually led to connecting people with others "who they know." LockerDome was built on the premise that people were connecting with things or topics "that they like."
Question 2. Like Ambition, you guys took a sports-based approach on an established market, (social media in your case, enterprise software for us).
Sports was an easy market to latch onto...large influencers, sponsorship dollars and passionate audience. However, we quickly learned that our social media/discovery platform was very useful to millions of other users who weren't all about sports and instead into topics like politics, news, style, gaming and even cooking.
Question 3. You grew your digital audience from 500k to 50 million monthly unique users, how did you do that?
We've grown our platform and audience into a very stable business by providing a variety of services. Just like you would diversify your stock portfolio, LockerDome diversifies but we're careful to not bite off more than we can chew. When we evolve and adapt into a new area we make sure to study it relentlessly, crunch the data we have available and then execute using a sound strategy.
We're constantly adapting to this hyper-active market but we've developed a platform that allows us to make changes intelligently using real data.
Question 4. In the past 18 months, you've generated an average Month over Month growth of +16%. How did you plan on keeping that high of growth moving forward?
In the same way that we evolve our product, we focus even more on diversifying our team. We've recruited members of our team from top 10 universities from around the nation.
One impressed us so much that we hired him after literally knocking on our front door and another who loved our office space so much (which includes a basketball hoop, full bar and steam room/showers) that he spent 73 days straight in the office...the story was picked up by Forbes.
Question 5. You have secured partnerships with Vice Media, SiriusXM, USA Today Sports, National Review Online, Mail Online, Floyd Mayweather, and Cristiano Ronaldo among others. What is your process for getting those partnerships?
Publishers typically come up with their own ways to use our platform. Some use our giveaway, poll and trivia widgets while others actively seek out our activation team to help cross-promote with a similar pub. When major publishers like Vice seek out our activation team we're almost always able to connect them with a perfect fit.
Here's a campaign that we were able to activate the entire audience around this Vice video as well as Floyd Mayweather's digital audience using our contest tool.
Question 6. What is the startup scene like in St. Louis?
St. Louis has birthed founders like Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey, who founded Twitter and Square, one of which is actually an investor of LockerDome. We even just had Juney Ham, former Director of Online Marketing at $10B Airbnb, move to St. Louis and write this article.
St. Louis will provide you with innovative spaces like the Downtown T-Rex, a collaborative community and a mostly untapped talent pool where financially it makes sense to found a start-up.
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