EMU grads hit it big with Blabberize.com in Ann Arbor

EMU grads hit it big with Blabberize.com in Ann Arbor
by Jon Zemke

The story behind Blabberize is cool enough to warrant making millions of theoretical Internet dollars - all because of a hit YouTube video. See, the website has a video about its serendipitous beginnings, and that's helping it rake in some real cash.

First, know that Blabberize is based on Blabbers, a website widget that allows users to make pictures talk. Mo Kakwan came up with the idea while going to Hack Day at Yahoo!'s headquarters in 2006.

"I thought it would be interesting to have a postcard that had a talking picture," Kakwan says.

He intended to make this idea a reality atHack Day, a journey now immortalized in the YouTube video here.

Long story short - after scrambling, coding and sleeping through the night
Kakwan only had half a project to present to the crowds of nerds, geeks, brains and all-out techies. But he went ahead and made his presentation anyway.

"I felt so horrible so I said, 'I'm just going to go back home,'" Kakwan explains. "I said, 'No, no, no. I'll just tell them what happened and present it."

It turned out to be a good move. The crowd loved the program and every word Kawan made come out of Patrick Stewart's mouth. The next thing he knew he was heading home to Ann Arbor to make his quick idea a reality.

Four months of coding later, Kakwan and his friend Alex Peer (the company's co-founder) unveiled Blabberize. The two Eastern Michigan university graduates created a small Internet sensation that is starting to not only take off but make serious money as well. Nearly 16,000 people use Blabberize every day.

"We're not making tons of profit," Kakwan says. "We're still finding was to make money off it."

The company is based in Ann Arbor even though Kakwan lives in Boston where he works for a tech start-up and Peer, who does live in Ann Arbor, is applying for PhD programs. The pair have no plans on moving it.

"Home is always Ann Arbor," Kakwan says. "I'm always bouncing back to Ann Arbor."



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