Turning a hobby into a business is hard work. Just ask Rachel Ryle, co-founder of Tweety Got Back. I did exactly that a couple of weeks ago and learned that she and co-founder Heather Capri aren’t afraid of hard work, as long as they can make some time for fun (and plenty of puns) along the way.
Calling Tweety Got Back a hobby may be a bit of sandbagging on Rachel’s part. After all, she and Heather had some success creating its predecessor My Space or Yours to offer free layouts and themes for MySpace users a few years ago. They rode a whirlwind of referral marketing and started generating real ad revenue before MySpace faded away.
With the idea of what could have been fresh in their minds and Sir Mix-a-Lot on the brain, they launched Tweety Got Back to offer a similar product for Twitter users. It’s dead simple to use: 1) sign in with your Twitter credentials, 2) choose a theme, and 3) click “apply”.
I fly the Red Sox colors with a Tweety Got Back theme.
In some ways, trying to turn Tweety Got Back into a full time business for Rachel and Heather is like trying to get lightning to strike twice, but they’re okay with that. Rather than stand around with their fingers crossed, the two are using what they’ve learned from My Space or Yours to get to high ground, prop up their lightning rods, and get their rain dance on. It seems to be working.
Tweety Got Back has gotten love from TechCrunch, PCWorld, Sir Mix-a-Lot himself (@therealmix), and a recent blog post from the Twitter mothership. Not too shabby, but there’s still work to be done to get to the level they had with My Space or Yours.
Sitting with Rachel in Atlas Purveyors, I asked what replicating their past success would look like in the context of Tweety Got Back. I got a tongue-in-cheek but telling answer: “I’d be buying Atlas and turning it into a dance club.” A promising future awaits if they can build up their user base a bit.
Other examples of Tweety Got Back’s tongue-in-cheek awesomeness:
- Tweety Gives Back: every now and again Rachel and Heather will bake a few snacks and drop them off at other local startups.
- Tweety Got Backup Dancers: Rachel and Heather helped raise a bunch of money for local charities during Cause To Rock by joining the bands as backup dancers for extra donations. Rachel: “I dance for money.”
Yes, they love a pun (Rachel has no shortage of these things), but are serious about giving back to the Boulder community, where they both grew up in the same neighborhood. ”So many people in the community influence what we do and why we do it,” Rachel says.
It only seems fair that we give back too, so lets help Rachel and Heather build up their user base. If you’re not a Tweety Got Back user already, go find a theme you like and apply it now: rep your favorite sports team, check out backgrounds from their 12 Featured Artists (6 of whom are Boulder’s own), or pick from 900+ other themes. You might even have some fun while you’re doing it.
As far as hobbies go, Tweety Got Back is a pretty good one. I, for one, would like to see it grow blossom into a full time business. Maybe someday I’ll even hear “I like big butts and I cannot lie…” echoing late at night on Pearl after Rachel’s had a chance to open her dance club.