Via David Crow, a pair of University of Toronto grads have launched Backtype, a blog comment search engine and tracking service. Christopher Golda and Mike Montano pledged their summer to startup incubator Y Combinator and in three months fleshed out the app.
Almost immediately after our launch, we knew we needed to iterate, focus on distribution and differentiate. Basically, our first release wasn’t something people wanted. After three major iterations of our product—two of which were featured on TechCrunch—we ended up being more of a widget provider than a social-network for events. We learned how important it is to build something that people want and that building something that’s useful right away is a huge advantage. We were trying to solve a problem in a very complex and convoluted way that would have only really worked at scale. After the many changes we made after launch, it became more and more difficult to explain our product—that’s what happens when you release a complicated, feature heavy product to begin with. I think that’s why we’ve developed such a strong appreciation for products like Twitter. We’re still learning and we plan on applying all of the lessons from IPartee; I think we’ve been very fortunate to have some great mentors and peers help us along the way.
They've learned well. BackType is a simple, solid app and it's easy to immediately see it's value. Perhaps most attractive is the ability to track comments from individuals across multiple sites, and follow them, Twitter style. The blogosphere is, in a way, it's own social network, and apps like BackType help unify it in a way that doesn't require any change of behaviour.
The site states that BackType is "based in Mountain View, CA"; Y Combinator picks are required to move to Mountain View for the duration of the term. No word what Chris and Mike's plans are with regards to returning to Canada.
Speaking of blog comment tracking, Techvibes allows you to track post comments through either RSS or email. Just enter your address or click the link below the comment box. In the near future, we're also looking to add an all-comments-over-all-posts feed, in response to requests for such.