Dewey Gaedcke of Minggl talks about a near life-ending experience, how a software application can go viral on the web, and why social networking software requires sophisticated programming techniques.
My story is the whole survival ordeal. I went out to Hawaii on a pleasure trip. My friend told me you have to hike out there and see the volcano. It’s just an incredible experience. They told me how to drive in and then hike out. I went out at night because the viewing is better and you can also see the lava so you don’t step in the wrong place. Coming back the moon went down, it got totally dark, and I got lost. It’s a 330,000 acre park and I had no water out there. I was missing for five days. They couldn’t find me. After three days they called off the search because no one has ever survived that long out there because there’s no water and because we don’t have vultures, we never find the bodies and we can’t do anything about it.
How did you survive without water?
I got really lucky. I could tell the dehydration was throwing off my thinking. I crawled into places where the lava had cracked open since it had been rained on for a long time and had broken down. There were little drips on the leaves. They were smaller than the beads of sweat on my arms so I thought to myself, “I’m going backwards.” But while I was doing this, I happen to set my hand on the base of tree. I thought it was weird and wondered what it was. It turned out to be green moss. I rip it off the tree and squeeze it and water comes out. So for five days, I empty my flashlight of its batteries and squeeze water into it. I drank green muddy water to survive.
That’s an incredible experience. So how did you come up with the idea for Minggl?
I was dating at that time of my life and I thought how dating was like being stuck on that island. You can’t communicate outside the space that you are in. Hawaii is the biggest island in the chain, and there were people only 3 to 4 miles away from me, but I didn’t know how to get to them or communicate with them. So I started seeing internet social sites as walled gardens that you can’t move through. That was the genesis of the idea behind Minggl. It’s a way to move friends, data, and communication across sites.
So the idea is to connect social sites together. So how did you come up with the architecture of the software – the picture within a picture concept?
We were thinking about what’s going to go viral. Being a student of psychology, I thought about managing a list of passwords, and bringing your friends together, and how that’s just a productivity play. All of those features are cool, but they’re not going to drive you to tell ten friends about it.
What will drive someone to tell ten friends about it?
I realized, if I can do the secret note in the classroom, or the clubhouse in the tree so there’s some exclusivity, so people can see things that other people can’t get to see. If I can create content on the page that other people can’t see but that other people want to see then they get to feel like a VIP and they are on the in crowd. There’s a social, emotional hook to it. That was the genesis for the notes idea.
What is the key idea behind Minggl?
It brings users social sites together in one place and then feeds you the latest activities of your friends.
I understand the application is quite sophisticated. How many languages was it written in?
Why so many?
That’s more a factor of how the internet works. It’s also a factor of the goals. I wanted it to be massively scalable. Persistent data needs to be in a database so I need a database language for that. Then you need services that are not tied to the interface or the database so it can arbitrate between the two. Then you need something to connect to the website which includes HTML and CSS. Then to do anything user-side you need either Java or an executable. So the fact that we have logic and architecture running at each of these layers and levels requires that many languages. It’s a very sophisticated piece of software.
What’s your background?
I worked on Knowitall.com, 13Colonies, and there were others.
How long have you been working on Minggl?
We’ve been working on it for 2 and half years.
What’s the next step?
We’re going out to market it broadly, now.