By Joshua Burton
If you were a time-traveling supervillain bent on myWebRoom’s destruction all you would need to do to fulfill your heart’s evil desires is to hop over to the year 2011 and take out a determined young man named Artem Fedyaev before his last year of college. The events of one semester break lead Artem from a crowded dorm room at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island to the expansive bridges and narrow streets and of San Francisco – and the week that myWebRoom’s new SHOP went live, heralding in a turning point for our high-flying web platform.
That would be pretty mean. Why would you do that?
As entrepreneurs go, Artem is a pretty low-key guy. He loves ping pong, soccer (his fealty lies with Inter Milan) and exploring new restaurants here in San Francisco. Despite his cool demeanor, his exemplary life has been a whirlwind of activity. Originally from Moscow, Artem says he “pretty much lived on a plane” for the early part of his life, bouncing around from Russia, the US, and Spain for the better part of his pre-college years. It was in New England, however, that myWebRoom was born.
The idea for myWebRoom ignited in a flash when Artem and co-founder John Gonzales got to see the preliminary renderings of a video game one of their friends was developing. What struck them was the design process that went into just making a room within the game. What was simply a background feature for some was a highly engaging process for the young men – and they were certain this wasn’t just a feeling only they shared. What if you had a room for your online life? What would you put in it? Artem put on a pot of coffee and thought about this for the rest of the night and developed the rough designs and basic framework of the WebRoom idea.
“The design was completed over that summer,” Artem says. ”At that point we weren’t even working on a startup or anything like that.” Coding, design,and user experience structure – he had to figure it all out over his break. He still has all those books he used to learn HTML and hatch ideas for business development. There were no employees at that point, just two guys with a plan. The first version had no signup or login and was hosted at www.liveroom.net. A domain, as Artem reflects now, sounds like a porn site.
During this time Artem lovingly fostered his fledgeling dream and fed it like a mother bird with a steady flow of succulent hope and juicy ideas. For him, the project became more than just a fun web experience – it turned into a safe, personal place on the web he could call home. In building it, he make it his own. Through it, he discovered and learned more through the internet.
By the time they graduated college, Artem and John had a fleshed-out product and an initial investor.With that, they decided to make the risky move from Rhode Island to Silicon Valley. “The week after we had a ‘yes’ from the investor – not signed and nothing in the bank account – just a phone call,” Artem says, “we had to go into a one-year term lease on an apartment we found.”
They only had enough money to stay for 3 months.
Luckily, more investors turned up and myWebRoom started gaining momentum. He learned important lessons along the way. School doesn’t teach you how to choose the best office, pick the best employees (he feels he lucked out with his early hire, Millu), or successfully promote your business. Through three offices (one of them being a live-in office for the founders) and huge leaps in development for the entire WebRoom platform, Artem sees his dream expanding into exciting new territory.
A year later, in the first office for myWebRoom, Artem worked to drive this idea home. He wanted to give to others what he experienced in developing myWebRoom. By putting together a place that thoroughly expresses your personality anyone can form a unique way to experience the web that reflects themselves and not some silicon valley web developer’s idea of how to experience the internet. He wanted to make it fun and to able to house everything a person loves.
There has always been a distinct similarity between Artem’s real-life room and his WebRoom. A lot of the things he owns tends to end up on the site – and a lot of things he finds for his WebRoom tend to end up in his real home. He laughs at his favorite comedy websites from his Union Jack sofa and tunes out the busy office with his BeoPlay H6 headphones in real life – and both of these are in his WebRoom. With this level of personalization, Artem saw a need to improve the way users choose and design their ideal WebRooms. Which brings us to now.
This week Artem is pacing excitedly from workspace to workspace as he watches over the development of another facet of his dream, the new SHOP for myWebRoom. His WebRoom dream is now a reality, through a lot of trial and error and no small amount of sleepless nights. What he has now is a fun, easy way to discover websites and add the hottest products on the web to the platform using the interactive features in the newly updated SHOP – slated to drop THIS WEEKEND.
You’d think now he can get some sleep, but that just doesn’t seem to be in Artem’s character. There’s always more to come, so stay tuned.