How Thoughtful Blog Comments Can Pay Off Big Time

This entrepreneur got the funding he needed for his new startup with a simple blog comment.
Business Writers
February 16, 2012

Never mind the $10,000 question. This was the $540,000 comment.

Four months ago William Mougayar, the founder of content aggregator Equentia, left a comment on Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson's blog.

Mougayar, a former Hewlett-Packard executive and frequent commenter, wrote about the struggle to keep track of ever-multiplying responses and social input from blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, et al. On Wednesday his new company, Engagio, launched a "social dashboard" service that attempts to solve the problem.

“The idea came out of me participating on Fred’s blog and other blogs, and how the experience was very fragmented–I had to go to multiple places to check for replies, and I wanted to be able to track that kind of thing so I could see who I was interacting with,” Mougayar told GigaOm.

Wilson, who diligently reads (and frequently responds to) the comments, suggested Mougayar do something about it.

“He said to make it like Gmail, but for the social web,” Mougayar said. “A social inbox.”

Mougayar leaped. Roughly two months later, he and his team of four had a product ready for beta testing.

Wilson, who was the first investor (the company has raised $540,000 in seed funding), blogged about Engagio earlier this month. “I’ve been encouraging William to do this project since he first mentioned it to me in the fall,” he wrote. “It seemed only right to encourage with both words and capital.”

Mougayar sourced more capital through AngelList and his own network of contacts. Investors include venture funds and individual angels such as Mike Yavonditte, the CEO of New York-based startup Hashable. Originally he planned to raise $300,000 but as interest grew, so did the size of the deal, he told Mark Evans Tech.

Mougayar's status as a frequent–and thoughtful–commenter helped burnish his credentials with investors.

"Just scroll any post on Fred Wilson's blog and he's there," Real Ventures partner Mark MacLeod told BetaKit. (Real Ventures has invested in Engagio.) "Just scroll any post on Fred Wilson’s blog and he’s there. So he has both the capability and the insight to build just the right product for this market.”

Mougayar told BetaBeat: “The whole thing was more or less conceived on Fred’s blog, and it came as a result of my involvement as a frequent commenter not just on his blog but elsewhere. I believe in commenting as a value element because it’s not just commenting, it’s conversations and I have developed relationships with people that I have started to comment with.”

What's the best payoff you've ever received for a comment? (Contacts? Cash?) What unusual ways have you found investors?  (Note: I don't have $540,000 to hand over–or even, um, $5.40–but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate comments.)

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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