Interview: Starting your own social network
Facebook and Twitter have taught us all that a very simple social networking idea can grow overnight into a multi-billion dollar empire. So, what’s out there now that could be the next big thing tomorrow? Leeds Student talked to Tom Delaney, creator of the fledgling social network justlefthome, about his ideas and experiences…
Leeds Student: Briefly explain the concept of justlefthome
Tom Delaney: Well it’s a social network, but not like Facebook. It’s more somewhere you can go for answers, a bit of a laugh, and to meet people like you. You might use it to find a drinking partner, a snog, a decent pub in your area or just a cheap recipe. It’s also quite voyeuristic – I think it’s fascinating to see what sort of stuff different people like.
LS: How did the concept for it come about?
TD: I originally conceived of it as being a virtual mum: Somewhere you could go to ask questions now your mum wasn’t downstairs to answer them. Since then though, it’s become much more of a location-based social tool with laundry and recipes thrown in. You might log in and discover that the fit girl you see at the bus-stop every Tuesday is a member and has exactly the same taste in music as you, so you can send her a message. Much better than clumsily trying to get her to notice you only to find out that she’s a big Celine Dion fan. For this reason alone, I’m gutted that the site wasn’t around when I left home.
LS: What do you offer beyond other sites such as Facebook?
TD: Facebook does what it does brilliantly. It’s like crack, and rightly so. It helps you keep track of what your mates are up to (again, the voyeurism angle plays a big part in its success here). What it doesn’t do though, is help you meet new people. I genuinely hope that people who meet on justlefthome end up becoming Facebook friends as well, but Facebook is not the be-all and end-all. Also, justlefthome looks much cooler than Facebook.
LS: How long did it take to make?
TD: Too bloody long. It nearly gave me a nervous breakdown actually. I did all the drawing in about ten days but the build took almost a year. It’s ever-evolving though. I’m constantly updating bit and pieces of it. It’s a work in progress and probably always will be until I sell it for eleventy million dollars.
LS: How successful has it been so far?
TD: It’s been really good. Naturally, in an ideal world you’d want a million members within a week of launch but that’s not realistic. I’m always rather pleasantly surprised when I check the membership numbers though. It often brings a little tear to my eye in fact..
LS: What would you like to add in future?
TD: justlefthome is just the beginning of a veritable justleft empire of niche networks. Next up will be justleftthecloset.com, for young gay and lesbian kids. Again it’ll hopefully be used not just as a dating site, but also as a friend-finder and a support network for people near each other who are in a similar situation. Then there’s justleftwork, justleftschool, justleftarms, justleftalone… etc
Justlefthome is free to join and available now at justlefthome.com