Felipe Munera ’14 speaks about Salsa, a social-networking startup he recently co-founded with Luke Knepper ’14 and Bryant Tan ’14.
Munera and Knepper officially launched Salsa last week during a Wi-Fi enabled flight from San Francisco to New York on their way to the technology startup conference TechCrunch Disrupt NYC 2011. The two debugged the site on a laptop during their cab ride to the conference, where they arrived with three hours of sleep, 12 cups of coffee and plenty of enthusiasm.
Salsa’s first product is useSalsa, a site where users can make plans to hang out with friends by linking their Salsa and Facebook accounts. Users can share what they are interested in doing and find friends who are free.
Business Insider described Munera, Salsa CEO, as a “Colombian Justin Bieber.” And when The Stanford Daily interviewed Munera about the new startup in his Twain dorm room, his hair was just as long.
Why did you choose to start Salsa?
Personally I wanted to start a company long ago. It was the reason I came to Stanford. It was the only place where I could be this creative…Luke [Knepper] and I created this prototype called Blue Bounce, but we needed something more…something that really disrupted the normal way of thinking about social networking…and that’s where Salsa came from.
What does Salsa do?
We connect people to map social interaction the way it’s supposed to be, or the way it actually is…Humans are happy when they hang out with people they like, and in a way, we’re making the world a happier place. This is much more than one little webpage we’re coding in college. This is our dream. It’s something big.
How did you end up going to TechCrunch Disrupt?
I was browsing TechCrunch, which I browse two, three times a day, and thought about how awesome it would be to go to Disrupt. If there’s something Stanford has taught me, it’s to always challenge your assumptions, and I thought, why don’t we go? We didn’t really have a finished product. We didn’t have anything. We just had too much passion, and we said, ‘Let’s go.’
What did you take away from the conference?
When we went to Disrupt, that really changed everything. Disrupt is a very big event. It’s about companies that have something that’s going to disrupt the way people think about technology. The requirement was for you to have less than something like $2 million in funding, and we had way, way less than that…We wanted to represent our university, and the fact that we went there [to TechCrunch Disrupt] proved something.
What differentiates the idea behind Salsa from other group-centered applications, like Facebook groups?
Salsa is dynamic. Other groups target messages to the members of the group, and the perception of who is in the group differs from person to person, which translates to lost social value. On Salsa you can target different groups for different activities, and we set it up for you. Salsa is a social dance and it also relates to food…and the main activities we help set up are “eat” or “do something.” Salsa is simple. It’s very dynamic and it moves.
Why do you feel so confident in Salsa?
We’re going to succeed, because our team is well structured…We’re selling the impact we want to create with Salsa as the mediator between technology and social interaction. I’m convinced we can do it.
Is the hair really an homage to Justin Bieber?
I didn’t have time to cut my hair. It was just so much work, and we were rushing; I need a haircut.