When Ben Weiner ’06 and Kelly Korevec ’06 quit their jobs in October 2007 to become Web entrepreneurs, they arrived in Silicon Valley by way of suburban Milwaukee.
The Brookfield home of Korevec’s parents became the launching pad for dailymile, a social-networking site for runners, cyclists, and triathletes. With Korevec’s folks away for the winter, the two men moved in and toiled through the Badger State’s harshest season to develop the dot-com idea that they’d hatched during their senior year. “We’d stay up working until four or five in the morning every night,” Korevec says.
Three years later, Weiner and Korevec live in San Francisco and operate a rapidly growing site that allows active types to share training regimens, exchange tips, and motivate each other. The dailymile site has now reached nearly two hundred thousand members and is adding some three thousand new members per week, according to its founders.
“Every workout has a story behind it,” Weiner says. “Dailymile is all about sharing those stories.”
Korevec adds, “We see people get on the site and talk about doing their first 5K. A few months later, they’re talking about doing their first marathon.”
Friends since their freshman year at the UW, Weiner and Korevec began running together as sophomores. They shared an apartment as seniors, when Weiner, a computer-science major, and Korevec, an art major, began collaborating on small Web projects and brainstorming larger possibilities. “We were really excited about doing something together and starting a business,” Korevec says. “And we always had these big ideas for things we could possibly do.”
Although Weiner says exposure to diverse ideas at Wisconsin encouraged the pair to explore entrepreneurship, both felt pressure to get “real jobs” after graduating. But during their first year in the workforce — Weiner as a Chicago software developer and Korevec as a Salt Lake City illustrator — they revisited their senior-year aspirations. “We both found that [work] was less rewarding than we’d hoped and that we weren’t challenged,” Korevec says. “So we went back to those original ideas and said, ‘We should do this. What do we have to lose?’ ”
By keeping overhead low, living frugally, and working part-time consulting jobs, Weiner and Korevec have funded dailymile themselves, keeping the site free to users. Recent sponsorship deals have allowed the duo to operate dailymile full time, and they hope to build a sustainable revenue model and hire a support team.
“I couldn’t have been happier making the decision to do this,” Weiner says. “And looking back, I know it was absolutely the right decision, even though it’s a little difficult to make that jump initially.”