Seeing friends, classmates, and peers build products and start companies poised for success is a very potent reminder of our abilities to do the same. Last week we saw Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski, co-founders of Codecademy speak about their experiences starting their company. This week, we met with a company I was very familiar with and excited for, Branch. Less than a year old, Branch has garnered much excitement from the community and investors.
The thirty-something of us trickled in slowly to the Betaworks office. As we gradually situated ourselves in front of the wall-sized graffiti art, co-founder Cemre Gungor threw up a giant “Welcome to Branch” onto the wall with a projector, and he and co-founder Hursh Agrawal took their seats.
They began with their stories. Hursh and I have grown close over the last year through working together on Tech@NYU, and I knew bits and pieces of the Branch story previously, however hearing it all together with co-founders Cemre and Josh Miller providing context enlightened me. It also moved the other Fellows. We were glued to our seats, listening to first-hand accounts of building a product, choosing a technology, ditching a technology, and raising venture capital. Here these three are, freshly out of college, two having taken a leave of absence, starting a technology company with 7 full-time employees and $2 million raised from some of the biggest investors on both coasts. Cemre and Hursh were a member of the Class of 2011 hackNY Fellows and Class of 2011 Enabler, respectively.
They then walked us through the product. The application speaks nuance, with very careful attention to detail and user experience. People invite others to join in on conversations about topics, links, or content. Entrance into this network is horizontal, which may serve to keep content interesting and relevant as the site scales. As Cemre walked us through, we were floored.
Branch is changing the way people engage in dialogue with one another. It was truly inspiring seeing my friends and hackNY family members build something that will grow big and disrupt communication. Again, Branch is a potent reminder of the possibilities and ability latent inside all of us. With the relationships and talent bubbling here, another success is inevitably on the horizon.