One of the most intriguing startup companies I encountered at the recent Under the Radar conference was LOUD3R, which operates a network of enthusiast websites connecting people with news and information about their passions.
Now, many ships have crashed on these shores, so bear with me about why I believe the LOUD3R model is a superior one. Many content aggregation sites start at the top, so to speak, by trying to appeal to everybody about everything. In the process, they invest in technologies like content-scrapers, taxonomies, and proprietary search engines.
By contrast, LOUD3R CEO Lowell Goss started from the bottom, aggregating specialized news, photo, video, and blog content about under-served communities, like those fixated on motorcycles (Goss's personal passion), sneakers, cricket, skateboarding, dogs, and wine, for example.
Today, LOUD3R announced the launch of 25 such sites based on its content discovery engine that combines semantic technology and human editorial input. The company's team of editors are themselves enthusiasts in the type of content they are helping to surface.
When I asked Goss where he found these editors, who get paid on an hourly basis, he responded, "You'd be surprised by how much you can accomplish using Craigslist." These editors often bring a community with them and build on it through LOUD3R.
Goss is a former leader of design teams at Yahoo, and his imprint on the new network of websites is simple but effective in a branding sense: the logos are all instantly recognizable as part of the network -- DECANT3R, WOOF3R, SNEAK3R, etc. By establishing his unique "3R" brand, he can easily secure URLs -- another advantage over the conventional approach of trying to secure an effective domain name from squatters or other companies.
To date, the company has been entirely financed by angels and friends and family.