“Like the expression ‘get your sea legs back,’ we had to get our entrepreneur legs back [after buying ourselves back from AOL],” About.me CEO and co-founder Tony Conrad told Business Insider. “And that took some time.”
This summer, About.me raised $US11 million in a Series B round led by Foundry Group, Bullpen Capital, CrunchFund, SoftTech VC, and True Ventures. But now, the company is getting back in the saddle with a new product that hopes to make it easier and more fun to represent oneself on the Web.
“There are still too many About.me users who ask the question, ‘OK, I have this page, but I still don’t have the tangible concept in my mind of what do I do with that page?’ And we’ve been doing a ton of work on that.”
“There’s a whole group of people out there who are artists, photographers, independent contractors, and developers, and there’s a bunch of college kids with thin experiences,” Conrad said. “Is there a way to tether their accomplishments and experiences from their resumes with their personalities?”
Essentially, Backstory is a visual way to express yourself, both professionally and personally.
“We’re not reinventing the resume,” Conrad told us. “The resume does not need to be reinvented. The resume works perfectly fine, but the problem is that it’s not tethered to something bigger.
“Photographers don’t need us to create a place to host their photos. If you’re a coder, you’re already on Github. If you’re a writer, you’re already on a blog or Medium. We want to get people from your About.me page to the thing that matters for you. That’s our only mission.”
Backstory takes the core of a person’s About.me page, and allows users to add a mission statement (yours or an inspirational quote you can choose) that gets tethered to the top of your page. It enables users to input a basic resume. Then, Backstory automatically generates a map of your location; at the bottom, you can put links to places where your work is hosted. It’s like a LinkedIn profile with Facebook elements mixed in.
It’s a bit different than About.me’s original product, which was simply focused on allowing users to share their hobbies. Users can easily add Backstory to their existing About.me page. It’s as easy as scrolling to the bottom of your About.me profile, adding in some personal and professional information, and saving your changes.
Conrad says About.me is not competing with LinkedIn, which offers a different kind of user profile.
“I like LinkedIn; I have their app on my phone. But we don’t need to recreate LinkedIn,” Conrad said, adding that LinkedIn doesn’t serve certain markets — like college students, or his wife, who’s an artist — very well.
“Just because people use our product doesn’t mean they’re not going to use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is for finding the person who went to your alma mater, who lives in the town you live in and works in the profession you want to. We just want to be able to enable people to have a better presentation of themselves.”
Indeed, what makes About.me — and consequently, Backstory — unique is that it isn’t LinkedIn.
“About.Me is not a professional site; it’s about your identity. So your professional life is part of that, but it’s also about how I surf, I have three kids, I’m a Cubs fan. I’ve had a rich life, and my About.Me page should reflect that,” Conrad said.
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