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Love for debate and disagreement could be described as one of the factors contributing to the success of social media.

Looking to harness this love for reasoned discussion, Bothsider is a nascent network that allows users to ask questions, agree or disagree with other users and explain why.

Starting a social network and getting ‘traction’ must be difficult with so many players having come and gone, and big hitters still dominating audiences.

So I caught up with Mark Gavagan, Founder, to ask him a few questions.

In one sentence, what is your product/service? 

We are a social opinion network for sharing Tweet-sized opinions on both sides of any issue.

What problem(s) does it solve?

People tend to surround themselves with information and opinions that confirm what they already think. 

It's hard for a person or group who fails to understand the reasoning behind opposing points of view to truly understand their own point of view.

Bothsider provides a diversity of succinct ideas and opinions, side-by-side, on issues about anything. It's not just static content to be consumed, but a chance for users to participate in the arena of ideas by sharing their own opinions. 

(A screenshot of a question on Bothsider - click to navigate to web page.)

What are your immediate goals?

100 very engaged users who love Bothsider and use it and share it over and over again every week. Obviously these 100 users would be somewhere between 1 and 5% of total users, but if we can reach 100 very engaged users, that means Bothsider is providing real value to our users and we're becoming an important part of their lives.

If we can get the ball really rolling for those 100 enthusiasts, we can learn from them and grow quickly.

What were the biggest challenges involved in building the tech or your team?

Mobile has been difficult. I didn't take Fred Wilson's "mobile first" advice to heart early on, so Bothsider was fully conceived as a desktop website before mobile was even a glimmer in my eye. Now, we've struggled to squeeze the site into a good (much less great) mobile experience.

We're finally on the right track with our major mobile update in two weeks, but it's long overdue and completely my fault. Live and learn (sigh).

How will the company make money?

We're not focused on money at all right now, but we believe IF we can build a massive network of engaged users, there will be lots of great opportunities to earn money.

All that counts right now is trying to build something that's incredibly useful and engaging. 

Who is in your team?

Cory Jacik, Alex Naspo, Bilal Quadri and myself (Mark Gavagan)

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?

Within one year we'd like to have confirmation, one way or the other, whether or not we're on the right track and building something people think is interesting and wonderful. If so, that's wonderful. If not, it's much better to learn that sooner rather than later.

Five years seems so far in future. Who knows if by then wheels will still even be round? If Elon Musk puts his mind to it, they might not be.

Other than your own, what are your favorite websites / apps / tools?

Stack Exchange, COLOURlovers and Twitter have been inspirational.

Trello is a fantastic organizational tool. Spreeder is a great tool for speed-reading. Adobe Illustrator is just incredible for developing ideas and mockups. 

Vine is a lot of fun, though I've only done a few. 

Ben Davis

Published 30 January, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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