Meet Evan Reas of LAL and His Proximity-Based Social Graph for Colleges (Video)
But last week we were granted access to the Palo Alto “hacker house” where the recently seed-funded LAL team has set up shop to expand its early success into a larger vision. No, LAL is not turning its flirting site into a dating site, but rather becoming a way for people to interact with others who are nearby, as co-founder and CEO Evan Reas described in a video interview embedded here.
LAL, which started at Stanford University last fall and now is live at 450 different colleges, gets 250,000 page views per day for its message boards and Web chat service. Reas estimates 75 percent of Stanford students have used the site. But total user numbers are slightly hard to ascertain, he noted, because LAL allows people to post and chat anonymously.
Reas promises that LAL’s grand vision will become more apparent in the coming weeks, but for now here’s why he’s been able to bend investors’ ears:
- A dynamic social graph determined by users’ locations seems like an alternative to the static real-name-based Facebook social graph.
- Flirting provides enticing content for both participants and voyeurs.
- When it comes to virality, densely populated college campuses seem to be a match waiting to be lit.
LAL participated in the most recent class of Y Combinator and raised a seed round led by Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz, as was reported by TechCrunch.
Here’s the full list of investors, provided by LAL: Marc Andreessen, Paul Buchheit, Ron Conway, Scott Cook, Charles River Ventures led by Saar Gur, Matrix Partners led by Josh Hannah, Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, David King, Yuri Milner, Shervin Pishevar, Brian Pokorny, Keith Rabois, Naval Ravikant, David Sacks and Y Combinator.
Reas told us LikeALittle was probably the seventh or eighth idea he and his co-founders Prasanna Sankaranarayanan and Shubham Mittal prototyped under the header Hawthorne Labs. The quick viral success of LAL at Stanford indicated to the three that they might have found their elusive “billion-dollar idea,” so they stuck with it, Reas said. Prior to Hawthorne Labs, Reas had been a co-founder of ProFounder and received his MBA from Stanford.
Here’s our video chat with Reas, shot in the “hacker house” backyard.