April 03, 2008

Toluu Looking Like a Real Winner

Being part of an entrepreneur's launch of a new service is exciting. If I get early access to a product, and think it has real potential, it can be as if in some small way, I'm part of the site's launch team, and every little element of success they recognize makes me feel like I chose well. Sometimes, I really do worry that I'm wearing my early adopter hat so tight that it could be cutting off oxygen to my brain. But with the launch of Toluu ten days behind us, I can easily report the initial response has been more than I could have anticipated for the upstart Caleb Elston and his socially-oriented OPML sharing site.

After my initial coverage of the site last Monday, Caleb's site was almost immediately overwhelmed by eager testers who wanted their hands on the new offering. In the last ten days, Toluu's servers were upgraded, not just once, but twice, as the site saw hundreds of new users pour in, each adding anywhere from a handful to hundreds of their own RSS feeds, forcing Toluu to pull down thousands upon thousands of new items, and using its matching algorithm to crunch the data and help users find new friends and feeds.

(See: Toluu Blog: Toluu gets new server infrastructure)

The growth wasn't all due to my comments, of course. Despite what some say, I'm still very small compared with more brand name sites. The Toluu buzz turned into a roar last week following positive reviews from Allen Stern at Center Networks (Toluu Helps You Like What Your Friends Like) and Sarah Perez at Read Write Web (10 Reasons Why You're Going to Love Toluu). Toluu even gained a position in TechCrunch's CrunchBase company listings. (CrunchBase: Toluu)

Like most new entrants to the market, Toluu has some rough edges. But, like the best innovators, the service responds to user feedback extremely quick. On Tuesday, Caleb introduced two new features he says were the most popular requested features: First, generating an RSS feed or your activity on the site and secondly, delivering an RSS feed for the activity of both you and your friends. As he commented in a blog post, "Now your Toluu activity; the feeds you add, the feeds you favorite, the people you connect with, is now completely portable."

Caleb even chose to highlight the import and activity process using a screenshot which added louisgray.com to his feed lists as the example - no doubt in an attempt to get me to write about it (which apparently worked). Of note, the CrunchBase screenshot has a little louisgray.com touch to it as well (See here).

Sometimes, a site's potential for success is apparent immediately, and sometimes it takes a little more time. Toluu looks like a hit that's spreading virally as bloggers sign in, find new friends and keep talking it up. If he's not careful, Caleb could find himself preparing for yet another server upgrade in the near term.

If you haven't yet jumped on the Toluu bandwagon, there's still time, and I have plenty of highly sought-after invites, so post a comment and get one, or send me an e-mail.