Sold his Biz to Twitter: A Chat with Everett Noah

“The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem”, a weekly blog…

What do you do when you finish your high school education at 15 years old, but colleges won’t accept you?

If you’re Noah Everett, you go to Barnes & Noble, teach yourself to write computer code and wind up creating the first photo sharing app for Twitter that at its height, had 80,000 daily users (including Ashton and Demi) and over one million photographs shared in a single day. The app’s name? TwitPic.

Noah was interviewed at June’s meeting of Startup Grind Charleston by chapter Director, Jeremy Berman (see above pic, Noah’s on the right with red sneakers.) His footwear should have been an indicator that this was not going to be a button-downed fireside chat. The guy is just himself. Real. Smart. And a hoot.

First developer job? Writing black market SEO stuff to trick Google searches.

First business? A web app to complete against iTunes. It flopped (his words.)

Next app? EchoPic (built in a week.) Converted that in a weekend into TwitPic.

Within 7 days of launch, TwitPic got press from Mashable, a big time social site. “I had no idea what I was doing”, shared Noah. “I just liked building things.”

Which tragedy put TwitPic on the map? The US Airways plane in the river.

In 2009, when Captain Sully had to ditch into the Hudson after his jet engine sucked in some birds, a passenger on a rescuing ferry took a picture of the downed plane as passengers were still evacuating, and tweeted it via TwitPic before traditional media arrived at the scene. Game changer. Noah quit his day job and then moved to Charleston (after seeing the movie, The Patriot.)

He was getting calls and offers from folks like Tony Hsieh, the serial entrepreneur and CEO of online shoe and clothing shop, Zappo’s (source of his red sneakers.) At one point, TwitPic was generating $3 million a year off ads.

He had to hire his parents to help run the company. In fact his mom, who was handling customer service, incurred the wrath of rapper 50 Cent after she banned him for posting inappropriate photos. Noah had to calm the dude down.

Fast forward, the young entrepreneur wound up turning down an 8 figure offer to sell the business because he “wanted to see it through” and he didn’t see himself being happy working for someone else. You have to give him credit for sticking to his values. As he shared, “I try to view life in death-bed terms.”

Eventually, Noah sold TwitPic to Twitter in 2014 for a lot less money, but you could tell he has no regrets. “I could not trade the 8 years (of building the business)… I  was happy with how things turned out.”

So what is Noah’s next adventure? Pingly.

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The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is a weekly 500-word blog by Thomas Heath, CLC that explores the world of business from an entrepreneur’s perspective. Its goals are to educate, enlighten and get conversations started. Join him with a Share or Comment, he loves to respond. And be sure to follow Thomas here on LinkedIn, as well as on Twitter: @ThomasHeathCLC .

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