Would you leave a high-paying consultancy job to run a startup? Shawn Cheong and Joseph Chua did – the two 28 year-olds left global management consultancy services giant Accenture and founded myTimeWall.com, an online social networking and life-blogging service mashup.
Shawn was working in Accenture as a consulting analyst when a certain thought struck him. “I realised that people simply lose track of their lives after a hard day at work, and even though there were the occasional significant events, they were easily forgotten after 2 months. This really affected me,” Shawn says. “How can I live my life without remembering anything about it?”
He decided there must be some sort of a system that can encourage his friends and co-workers to create these events, so that he could remember them. He roped in colleague and fellow Nanyang Technological Uuniversity (NTU) computer engineering graduate Joseph Chua – and myTimeWall.com was conceived.
Social Blogging on a Timeline
myTimeWall combines blogging, social networking elements and a timeline into what Shawn and Joseph like to call ‘social blogging on a timeline’. The premise is simple: A user can create an entry of a past event (up to 10 years back) on their own ‘TimeWall’. Anyone who was part of that event, say a birthday party three years ago, can be connected to the same entry and shared on the other person’s TimeWall. It’s a great collaborative way to institutionalize social collective memories.
Shawn insists myTimeWall is different from timeline-based microblogging services, such as, say, Plurk. “Perhaps the only similarity is we both have a timeline.” One difference that strikes you first is that microblogging services like Twitter, Tumblr or Plurk tends to focus on the current or the ‘now’ – myTimeWall is more retrospective in nature, allowing you to chronicle events in the past. It’s not inconceivable to turn your TimeWall into a collaborative social schedule, either.
Opportunities and Challenges
Currently funded by Spring Singapore and NTU Ventures under the Entrepreneurial Talent Development Fund (ETDF), myTimeWall launched its closed alpha in April this year, and subsequently opened for public beta in July.
Shawn believes that myTimeWall‘s value proposition is unique. “I will say there are no direct competitors,” he declares. “The existing social networks and blogging sites can be considered indirect competitors, although we are looking into how we can leverage off them and achieve synergy instead.” It’s a bold claim. The challenge is to educate users on the difference and finding a real, compelling use to eschew other services and use myTimeWall instead.
“Our main challenge is to reach out to users and let them understand the benefits of myTimeWall.” User acquisition is a priority, Shawn admits.
To grow their service, Shawn says there are plans to creating more value-added features and integrate with sites like Blogger.com and Facebook. “This will give our users a more complete experience, and also allow their existing blogs entries and photos to be showcased on their TimeWall and shared with the rest of their friends on myTimeWall.” As for their revenue model, Shawn says there are plans to host ads from sponsors and sell virtual goods.
Views on Entrepreneurship
Shawn says entrepreneurship is a lifelong journey that has no end.
“You can always make things better and there is always new ways to improve people’s lives. We have chosen this path because that is exactly what we enjoy.”