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Featured on Jun 14, 2012

Austin Evarts

"Don't be afraid to look stupid. The more you are willing to look stupid and learn, the more you succeed."


I'm the CEO and cofounder of GoChime, a social advertising startup. I've traveled a fair amount of the world and I listen to a lot of music. I get excited about disruptive technologies and changing the status quo.

  • Title: CEO, GoChime
  • Age: 28
  • Location: SoHo
  • Contact: @austinevarts

GoChime graduated from the TechStars program in Seattle in 2011. How did the TechStars program help you develop GoChime? What was some of the best mentorship advice/lessons learned from TechStars?

TechStars was great for us!  We went in with some traction (customers) and a pretty rudimentary model.  We came out with a much clearer vision, a much more robust model, and a very strong network.

I can't point to one specific piece of advice but the heavy emphasis on talking to your customers and "building to learn", was extremely influential.  To this day we are constantly asking ourselves: "is this the minimum viable product?" and "what will we learn by building this?"

GoChime uses "chimers" to engage an audience with a brand. You guys have even developed your own "reputation score" to determine the best of the best. In your experience, has it been difficult to persuade brands to trust  your chimers and the power of social media? How quickly do you think big businesses are adapting to the new tech age?

Some brands are more progressive than others for sure and sometimes we get initial resistance to the idea of "giving up control".  They feel much more comfortable when they realize that it's the "ad hoc" / "word-of-mouth" nature of our system that makes it such a powerful tool for them.  Also, the brand/merchant has ultimate control over who chimes for their campaign.

I think bigger businesses know they need to be involved in the "new tech age", they just don't always know how they need to be involved.  I think for startups in the space, it's becoming more and more important to show results and get yourself on the strategy side of the budget, not just the experimental side.  You want to be something that a business can't live without.

We noticed you said that you've done a fair amount of traveling. Where's the most obscure place you've traveled to? Would you recommend others to travel there?

Potosi, Bolivia was a pretty obscure place.  It's an old mining town in the mountains with an elevation of 13,420 feet.  We drank moonshine with a local tour miner while toasting a statue of "El Tio" (the spirit owner of the mountain) deep inside one of the mines.  I'd recommend going to Bolivia in general.  It's very different than so many other places in the world.