Co-founding Love: Muppet-duo

Jess Erickson

October 06, 2012

This Co-founding Love story is by Adam Bonnifield on how he met and co-founded Spinnakr with Michael Mayernick . Spinnakr is a new kind of analytics. They target website visitors automatically, helping triple signups and sales for your business. Spinnakr was in our 3rd accelerator batch. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook

A tech blog once called Michael and me the Bert and Ernie of the DC tech scene (http://inthecapital.com/2012/06/25/dc-tech-if-it-were-run-by-muppets/#ss__18040_1_9__ss ), which was even more true about 10 years ago when we met. Back then we weren’t just the chaos and order muppet-duo of a tech startup, but two teenagers hell-bent on destroying each other.

In fact, we started as college debate rivals from different universities. Michael was famous for wearing expensively tailored Brooks Brothers suits and making these nuanced arguments about value ethics. I wore dirty layers of moth-eaten t-shirts and was more emotional, sloppy, and broadly philosophical. Whereas Michael loved to build ideas up like little Lego blocks, I loved to break them with brute force. Ever since we clashed in the National Championship our sophomore year, we were enemies.

Things got worse when Michael created an Equal Opportunity forum designed to make it friendlier for women to participate in debate. I hated this, since I felt like it was an excuse for censoring an open-community of ideas, so I started to hack the system to allege tons of fake, anonymous harassments complaints against him. To his credit, he scrupulously logged and investigated each complaint against himself, even though I still suspect he must have known it was me trying to annoy him.

Anyway, as we grew up a bit, we inevitably became friends who shared a passion for big ideas and thinking boldly, fluidly and creatively about the future. I was off raising money for political campaigns by building the earliest forms of digital targeting, while he was working on building big analytics systems for Deloitte, and we would often philosophize about the future of how people will interact online. This conversion grew into Spinnakr, a project in making it dead simple for anyone to target their website’s visitors in real-time. So we moved out from Washington DC to 500 Startups together, and have continued growing ever since.


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