Hats off to Richard Lusk, the CEO of Foldera. (full disclosure: I am on Foldera’s advisory board and am a shareholder. The relationship dates to the 2002 when I began advising Taskport, Foldera’s original incarnation, on marketing strategy and fundraising).
Lusk has been hand carrying the concept of a web-based collaboration tool for the past four years, putting everything on the line to get his vision coded and launched to the world. Late last month the product went into Beta, and Richard, one of the more engaging, charismatic individuals I have known, went to work putting into practice the art of word-of-mouth buzz building around his product.
First, while there were the obligatory press releases, Richard took the beta to Michael Arrington at TechCrunch, who in turn blogged about and opened up the floodgates — positive and negative — all commenting on Arrington’s initial reaction (positive), some screenshots, and the Foldera.com description of the product.
That lead to Shel Israel and Robert Scoble to blog about it, which further fanned the flames — leading to the news that 400,000 beta requests flooded Foldera in a week. That’s nearly half-a-million beta requests. No bus wraps, no billboards, no spam …
Now Foldera is following the GMAIL model of a controlled beta (remember when people were eBaying GMail invites?) and letting a lot of desire build up before slamming their servers with traffic. I’ve played with the product and it’s utterly the personification of viral. You get a free account, you invite other people open associated free accounts, and the thing spreads. Think Basecamp meets Office meets ….
I won’t speculate on Foldera’s chances in the market. The users will vote on that when the cover is taken off, but as far as rollouts go, this is the best example I’ve seen yet of how to take a new Web 2.0 company out the door. Hat’s off to Lusk for scoring a coup in online marketing.