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What could possibly be harder than starting a viral Internet meme? Think about creating a successful business around one.
But that’s precisely what Jared Kleinstein, creator of Tebowing.com, is wanting to do.
He didn’t attempt to. Inspiration hit to build his tribute website after watching the October Broncos-Dolphins football game in a bar with friends.
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In the beginning of the fourth quarter, a Broncos victory seemed hopeless. But miraculously, Denver scored two touchdowns in quick succession, then secured the win in overtime. While everybody else celebrated, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow struck what’s become his signature pose, dropping to 1 knee, fist tucked under his chin, and prayed.
Kleinstein and his friends walked out of your bar, and took an image because they recreated Tebow’s famous move, which Kleinstein would coin "Tebowing." Tebow, the son of Christian missionaries, is definitely pleased with his faith.
The very next day, Kleinstein launched Tebowing.com. He told a few friends about any of it and encouraged them to create their pictures. By the finish of its first full day, the website received about 850 unique views. The very next day, that figure had increased to about 10,000. The very next day, 350,000. Kleinstein received a text from a pal telling him to carefully turn on CNN: Tebowing had officially gone viral, making national news in around three days. The website has since been attracting up to 15,000 page views each day because the initial rush, and received over 12,500 photo submissions.
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Kleinstein had no intention of earning Tebowing.com a business. “It’s sort of the contrary of the American business plan… This business was made after the product had been set up," says the 24-year-old web professional who lives in Manhattan and includes a degree in marketing and entrepreneurship.
Kleinstein scrambled to create a business and capitalize on the site’s popularity. He used an open-source template to produce a blog-style website. Then used a do-it-yourself apparel platform called Spreadshirt.com to create and distribute his Tebowing merchandise, which include T-shirts, hoodies, baby bibs, and dog bandannas which sell for $15 to $40. Jared declined to reveal revenues, but did say some would go to local Denver charities but he hasn’t quit his day job at StreetEasy.com. a real-estate listings company.
The sustainability of businesses predicated on popular fads could be difficult to predict, says Ben Huh, CEO of the Cheeseburger Network, a Seattle Wash.-based company which runs five popular blogs, including icanhascheeseburger.com. His advice? Do everything you love, connect to the site’s community, and focus on offering good content, not chasing fads. A website is a business, and it must be treated just like a business, he says. “If your business plan depends on luck, all the best with that."
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