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Featured on Jul 25, 2012

Seth Porges

"Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted."


I'm a longtime tech writer and television commentator, who recently decided to start my own venture adventure. Previously, I worked as senior editor at Maxim, as a tech editor and columnist for Popular Mechanics, and as a tech columnist for Bloomberg News. I've also written (mostly about tech) for dozens of publications, including Popular Mechanics, Maxim, Men's Health, Men's Journal, Gizmodo, Mashable, The Next Web, Fast Company, Forbes, InStyle, PC Magazine, Popular Science, and BusinessWeek.

In December 2011, I launched the iOS app Cloth, which makes it easy to save, categorize, and share your favorite wardrobes. In June 2012, Cloth partnered with to use real-time location-based weather data to pick the best outfits from your wardrobe for current conditions. The app also teamed with Aviary to incorporate advanced photo editing tools. Cloth has been featured in The New York Times, TechCrunch, Mashable, Gizmodo, The Next Web, and Wired; and been featured on the iTunes homepage three times. Cloth was entirely funded off of income earned using Airbnb.

I also do a lot of TV stuff. Sometimes on cable news and the morning shows (MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC), but also some other stuff. I'm currently appearing in a multipart series of History Channel specials, competed on the game shows Cash Cab and Chain Reaction, and taped an episode of American Ninja Warrior.

In my free time, I give lectures about the history of pinball, and plan recovery dives for sunken treasures.

  • Title: Co-Founder of Cloth for iOS, freelance writer
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
  • Contact: @sethporges

With the all of fashion startups, where do you think you fit into the scene? You've had quite a lot of experience writing about tech; what gave you the conviction to not only write about tech, but to become involved in the scene with your own startup?

There are a number of really great companies out there. Cloth started as a simple closet management utility that was designed to be as clean and easy-to-use as possible. The idea is to use that as a starting point, and build on more and better features—such as our use of real-time weather data to pick your best outfits for current conditions—that slowly expand the scope of the product. We've got some really great ideas going forward that will do some more things nobody else has done, so stay tuned.

Tech writers have a bird's-eye view of the space. We see, demo, play with, have access to, and follow so many start-ups, so many products, and so many people that, at least I hope, it's possible to develop a sense of what works and what doesn't. Being a tech writer also makes things seem accessible, and really knocks down the psychological barrier to entry. I think there are a lot of people with great ideas who just have no idea where to start. Following tech as a journalist and seeing people just like me do great things just makes connecting the dots seem so possible.

Your interests are unique. Do you give your history of pinball lessons at somewhere semi-official like the Brooklyn Brainery or casually to anyone who'll listen at the local arcade? As for the recovery dives, how long have you been planning them?

I've given a few talks on the history of pinball at Galapagos in Dumbo and at the 92nd St Y in Tribeca. I hope I'm more than just a whacko on a soapbox. For me, the interest is less about the game itself, and more about the people and places and historical figures involved with it. Pinball was illegal for more than 30 years in much of America--including New York. And the celebrities, politicians, and groups involved with it are incredible. Folks like Mayor La Guardia, RFK—the Supreme Court even ruled on pinball in the 50s. And there were these crazy pinball mobs involved as well. The NYPD even had a dedicated "pinball squad" dedicated to smashing the machines—Elliot Ness and the Untouchables-style. It was this huge swath of American history that almost nobody knows about. THAT'S why it's interesting to me.
I first had the idea for my pinball dive about three years ago, but it's an extremely slow process. Fortunately, I have all the pieces and people together, and we're going to go get them pretty soon. For me, recovery and treasure dives in general are a source of great interest. I did a fun story for Maxim where I tagged along with some divers who uncovered a gun that may be the long-lost second murder weapon from the Amityville murders in the 70s, and I just got back from a dive in Panama with archaeologists who were uncovering a shipwreck that may have belonged to the pirate Captain Morgan. The best part about being a journalist is that this is work.

To fund your entire startup using the profits from Airbnb is impressive. We checked out your place on Airbnb and from the pictures it looks like an amazing place. When you decided to start Cloth, did you
immediately decide that you were going to fund it yourself?  

I wouldn't want to start a project that I didn't believe in enough to put my own money behind. I'm of the belief that the longer you can incubate something yourself, the better. It also allows us to be extremely nimble and forces us to do a lot with a little. Having too much funding is just as fatal to a start-up as having too much, and I hope that we can continue to be a lean, efficient machine. There may be a point where Cloth outgrows this funding model, but I'm extremely proud of our ability to do it ourselves so far.

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