Crashing into Success: How a motorcycle accident spurred the founding of a tech company

Eric Silver is the man behind Pikimal!

According to Eric Silver, 2012 is going to be his startup’s year.

Silver launched Pikimal in 2010 as an online decision-making tool that allows users to find the best products to fit their wants and needs based on their preferences and millions of facts.

Silver says that while web search is great at finding facts, when you look for meaning, you may only find marketing.  Pikimal is different: Pikimal cares what makes something great specifically for you, letting you say what’s important and dynamically producing articles, lists, and comparisons to explore what’s best for you.

“You can’t have trust online without transparency”, Silver says.  “By letting people see exactly which facts drive our recommendations – and change our algorithm on the fly – we allow our users to be certain that they’re not being deceived.”

Every startup has an interesting story to tell and Pikimal is no exception.

Silver first developed the idea for a wiki-esque site that allows users to sort, compare and review the facts/specs of thousands of products and choices when he was attending Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School. Time moves fast and Silver found himself working at McKinsey and then joined tech-fashion sensation ModCloth as its Chief Marketing Officer. Yet, he still had the idea and desire to start a company like Pikimal.

In 2009, Silver took some time off from ModCloth, bought a Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle, and then fate sorta stepped in. On a rain-soaked, twisty road, Silver laid down his Ninja, severely injuring his knee. Without health insurance, he went on-line to try and set his mangled knee back. A curvy, 4-inch scar rips across the top of his knee as a reminder.

Nearly immobile and trying to recuperate from the accident, Silver knew this was the time to focus and build his company. This would be the time for him to learn how to code and build the Pikimal alpha site. So Silver took all of the clocks off his wall and basically went dark for four months, immersing himself in the creation of his startup!

With a crude, yet highly functioning alpha site, Silver began looking for coders to tighten up Pikimal into a beta site while also pursuing start-up funding. He set his sights on $250K and landed $500,000 to get Pikimal rolling. The lead investor came back a few months later looking to ensure Pikimal’s success with an infusion of another cool million bucks.

As of 2012, Pikimal.com had more than 4.5 million visitors with some 2.3 million people using the pikis. Silver predicts 10 million visitors by the end of the year. This month, Pikimal is on the cusp of releasing its technology for use on other web sites and blogs, taking the company into some new areas of growth.

The company has offices on River Ave. with 14 employees, and Silver is proud to say that they all have health insurance.

“Expect big news three more times this year,” said Silver. “This year is really our year!”

 

Words by Jonathan Kersting, jkersting@pghtech.org

Photos by Sandi Fairbanks, sfairbanks@pghtech.org

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One Response to Crashing into Success: How a motorcycle accident spurred the founding of a tech company

  1. Colin Dean says:

    yay pikimal!

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