Interview with Co-founder Nick Kellet -
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Interview with Co-founder Nick Kellet
17 March 2014

Nick Kellet is the co-founder of, one of my favorite curation and blogging toolsnick-kelletx200

Listly is a social-list content platform, combining crowdsourcing, content curation & embeddable lists to drive high-level community engagement, live inside your blog posts.

When I asked Nick to describe his company through his own vision, rather than the way it’s seen from the outside looking in, he had this to say:

Listly exists because people love lists – we love to read and share articles and posts with titles like “7 Things You Wish You Asked <dead famous person” or “17 ways to <do something cool>”.

While we love lists, they have got forgotten in depths of HTML.Our vision is to elevate list content to the status of YouTube and Slideshare.

Listly is slideshare for lists

I joined Listly as co-founder 2 years ago. Our goal is to be a top 100 website. We’re in the top 7k so far.

Our Interview with Nick Kellet

Nick sold his visual segmentation startup to Business Objects (now SAP) in ’99, the tool exploited our love of venn diagrams to discover and express the business questions people needed to ask.

A passionate innovator, Nick also self-published a board game instead of the predictable book. His game, GiftTRAP, gamifies the act of gift exchange is translated into 12 languages & won 20+ awards globally including a Spiel des Jahres prize (a gamer’s Oscar).

After a few discussions on Twitter, Nick was so full of great advice in general, and personal help with, I asked him to interview with me on and he agreed.

Why did you become a business owner?

I love the challenge. I love seeing people adopt new technology. I love inspiring people to change their habits.

I love marathon thinking.

With Listly I was drawn to  the power of crowdsourcing as I’d previously published a crowdsourced board game. Creating content by having your community help is just smart thinking.

As a marketer I could see the appeal of lists. The psychology of lists is fascinating, but that’s a post all of its own. Did you know 30% of content is in the form of lists? They get most views and most shares.

Lists are like Vegas. They keep us coming back for more.

What were some major milestones in the growth of your company?

Our 1st million page view list was very special as was passing 7k on Alexa.

We passed 1 million page views per month a while back and were close to 1 million unique visitors per month. Our next goal is 1 million crowdsourced lists.

Having a team of 5 is certainly enabling us to make faster progress as does having a tier of paying customers.

For me the most treasured feeling would be people seeing a Listly as they search Google, and choosing it because they see and trust Listly lists as valued resources.

Together we leave the web in better shape. Listly lists improve the experience of navigating the web.

That’s the value of the crowd.

Do you consider a start-up? Why or why not?

Yes we’re a startup. For me startups are all about figuring out how you communicate what you are.

10,000 songs in your pocket nails the iPod.

It’s not just the words, but also the momentum of the brand that transitions you to the mainstream. Getting to the top 100 websites in the world will be our rite of passage.

How is funded?

We were self funded for 18+ months. We recently began raising a small angel round of $350k via

Our next step if to go for Series A later in the year.

What’s the most critical step you took in order to grow your business?

Belief in your vision and the strength / wisdom to pace yourself. Be ready to go all 15 rounds. Be ready to be a 3-5 year overnight success. Nothing comes without work and persistence.

Too many people fail to prepare themselves for journey. You need to keep yourself physically and mentally fit. Rejection is punishing and cumulative if you let it in. Entrepreneurs face a lot of rejection and a lot of glazed looks, but the reward of solving someone’s pain inspires you to keep on climbing.

Learn to thrive off these moments of joy.

What’s the most important way you’re using technology in your business?

I think of Listly as a social organism. It has inputs (it needs fuel) and it has outputs (content that people see). I know we’re creating a self maintaining organism. It finds it’s own fuel and it grows itself by incorporating more people and more content.

Organisms take on their own life and their own culture.

A socially powered machine drives organic growth. We only prioritize ideas that have the potential to self-fuel the machine.

Share your biggest success in business so far, how it happened, and what you’ve learned from it.

Edublogs ran a contest recently on Listly, they got 350k views, 8k people participating and contributing and 500+ blog posts embedding, sharing and promoting the event.

That happened in 2-3 weeks.

We’ve seen other big contests before, but those metrics prove our adoption is getting easier and faster.

Measuring how friction is reduced as how your brand grows in power / trust over time is essential. Our software becomes slicker and simpler and more people have heard of and trust the brand – these are the foundations on which to build solid growth.

It’s proof for us, but also proof for the next wave of adopters. We live in a world of social proof and transparency -the metrics I share are all visible at Listly.

How did you recover from your biggest business-related failure, and what did you learn?

With my board game, I published with no input from other game experts because I knew none. It took me 3 years to publish my expansions as I choked on too much feedback.

I made 6k of the wrong game in the meanwhile.

Trust your voice. Pick your mentors and advisors with extreme caution.

What advice do you have for fellow small business owners?

Keep the faith.

Belief in your vision and the strength to go the distance.

Too many people fail to prepare themselves for journey. You need to keep yourself physically and mentally fit. Entrepreneurs face a lot of rejection and a lot of glazed looks, but when you find people that get your vision it’s all worth while.

You need to learn who and how to listen to find proof, but also adapt and refine your vision so more people get your story.

How do you use social media to help your business grow?

I use social in the form of blogging, tweet chats and networking.

I also quickly learned to bring everything back to your mailing list and your newsletter. It links back to my earlier comment about building a living organism.

Social is social and organic. Use its strengths. Also use your strengths. Figure out what you love about social. You will be more effective if you are loving every moment of what you do.

How do you use content marketing to help your business grow? (Note: there are links to examples included.)

I mix up my content. I obviously make good use of Listly, but I also work hard to create compelling content on slideshare.

– Lists (on Listly) – – 400k views

– Slides on Slideshare – – 100k views.

– Listly Newsletter – – 13k subscribers.

Listly and Slideshare give me lots of signals that help us shape the future of

Benchmarking your experience is essential. Embracing Slideshare gives me a great sense of the value of Listly. Listly brings me more traffic, that’s a huge proof point.

I’m also a top 1% content producer on Slideshare, so I know I create compelling content on and for that platform.  I play a very different game for content networks vs social networks.

– Linkedin – 8k connections

– Twitter – 70k followers

– G+ – 3k circles.

You are always, and only, building a community. You are your reputation. Guard it well.

Your content is your credential.  You are only as good as your next piece of content. Always be looking for new ideas. I’m always experimenting with content. There is always room for something new.


How do you use search or search engine optimization to help your business grow?

60% of Listly traffic daily comes from organic search. Our most viewed list has seen +1 million views. That’s 100% organic.

The secret to organic is social participation and evolving your content over time through participation and blogger outreach. You also need to think about creating content that gets found – content that answers people’s questions.

You have to let your ideas free.

The metrics tell you which ideas work. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough.

Thank you Nick!

Join us in thanking Nick Kellet for taking time from his schedule to share his tips and advice. You can reach Nick at, at, or on Twitter.



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