Wikipedia has a fast growing competitor now, and it’s called Everipedia. The website, as the founders call it is a “thugged-out Wikipedia” which is a crowdsourced encyclopedia and knowledge aggregator. Here’s TechRasa’s interview with two of the co-founders of Everipedia.
We spoke with Sam Kazemian and Mahbod Moghadam, the two Iranian-American co-founders of Everipedia. Sam, or as his friends call him “Persian Zuck”, was born in Mazandaran province in Iran and moved to the States with his family at a young age. He started the early version of Everipedia with his friend, Theodor Forselius right after he graduated from UCLA with degrees in Neuroscience and Philosophy.
Mahbod is well known for co-founding RapGenius (now Genius.com) with his classmates at Yale University in 2009. His bold sense of humor and the media attention he got after leaving RapGenius made a lot of controversies about him. He told us that he was planning to retire after RapGenius but now he has a new passion which is Everipedia. Despite his Iranian background, he has never been to his home country but wishes that he visits soon.
Q: Tell us about the start of Everipedia, how did you come up with the idea?
Mahbod: So the way that I met Sam, I had left RapGenius for about 6 months. I was giving a talk at UCLA and Sam came up to me and said I made a new version of Wikipedia and he showed me my Everipedia page. And I got really excited because I tried so hard to get my own Wikipedia page. I even paid a kid to put it up for me and I tried putting it up myself and they kept taking it down.
There are probably millions of people who want to have a Wikipedia page and Wikipedia won’t let them, so this could be a huge thing. I ended up finding our first investor so Sam let me join the team. At that point, it was just him with his friend, Teddy who lives in Sweden. Now we’ve got a pretty big team. We’ve got 6 co-founders, and a team of about 10 people, so it’s getting pretty big. The site’s traffic is growing really fast. In 10 months, a couple of millions have seen the site now, and it’s growing much faster than my old site, RapGenius.
Sam: I thought If we could just get 10 or 20 percent more engagement than Wikipedia has, we would be 2 times bigger. Like if we make the rules a little bit more easy to understand and make the editing process easier. If we just made it more interesting and nicer and everyone would want to make a page for themselves, company or friends or all that stuff. So far it looks like it’s true.
Q: I remember an interview with Mahbod a few years ago, where he said RapGenius is going to get bigger than Facebook. What’s your plan for Everipedia to grow faster?
Mahbod: The main thing that I was excited about RapGenius is that it’s something that everyone can add information to and it’s modern. The limitation with RapGenius is that you have to explain everything line by line. So unless you really want to get into it, it’s not something that anyone can casually use. Everipedia is a much more casual, relaxed site, the same as Wikipedia. But it modernizes things the way that RapGenius did. It actually takes a lot of inspiration from Rapgenius. For example, you get IQ points for adding information. And if you’re famous we give you a verified account. RapGenius is pretty big right now, it’s one of the 400 biggest websites in the US. But I think Everipedia is going to be bigger. Everipedia is almost one of the 10,000 biggest sites in the US now.
Q: How did you monetize Everipedia?
Mahbod: We have ads. Right now we have about three ads on every page. And they’re not very sophisticated or fancy or anything. We’re actually trying to find something that’s better.
Q: Can companies promote themselves on the website?
Sam: Soon we can have sponsored or promoted Everipedia pages. So just like how a company has a Wikipedia, if you want your page promoted, that will be our internal ad. But not yet, we’re going to roll it out soon.
Q: It’s a crowdsourcing platform so anyone can insert data in. How do you guys verify the legitimacy of the information?
Mahbod: Well, one cool thing is, even though the site at this point is very big, the number of people adding information is still not that big. So at this point, we can still just manually look at everyone. For example, when you sign up for an account, after you’ve added 15 pieces of information, it stops you. You can’t use your account anymore until we go and review what you’ve done. Every day 10 or 20 people sign up and start adding stuff and we just look at all of them anyway.
Sam: As more people join until it becomes harder to look at activities, they also become interested in monitoring the website itself. So it’s kind of like a self-perpetuating system.
Q: What startup trends and opportunities do you guys see coming up?
Sam: Right now, in America all the sharing economy and Uber stuff are really big. If you have Uber for anything, you can raise money really easily. So we joke that we’re Uber for Wikipedia.
Mahbod: A lot of times Sam feels bad that he’s building Everipedia because he’s like, “I could just be building Uber for dog sitting or whatever and become a billionaire” [they laugh]. We’re big believers in the Uber economy, we think that eventually the way that you do business is going to be apps. So anyone who can make a quality app for any common service is definitely going to become very reach.
Q: Any closing remarks?
Mahbod: Well, hopefully, someone from the TechRasa community will want to get involved and become Everipedia Iran. At this point, we still don’t have any pages in Farsi, which is very embarrassing for us! I can read Farsi but Sam can’t! [they laugh]. We need someone who knows Farsi to start Everipedia Iran, so hopefully we’ll find that person!