In a recent article for Entrepreneur, Logan Kugler (@logankugler) discusses the unforgettable day that changed Jeremy Greene’s life. Greene created a social media app called PingTank that allows users to customize photos with animation overlays, and at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, Zuckerberg announced that the latest version of Facebook Messenger would include a direct integration of PingTank.
Greene is not an engineer, nor did he grow up in the Silicon Valley. A year before the Facebook announcement, he was living in a trailer park with all of $5 dollars. He had a troubled upbringing involving the foster system as his mother did not have the means to care for him. Despite these struggles and barely graduating high school, Greene followed through with his vision for PingTank and was able to sell Facebook on this vision, all without being involved in the elite tech world. Through hustle, determination, salesmanship, and a team of geniuses, Greene has risen to fame. (The team’s latest marketing stunt involved Tyga, Greene getting “arrested” and a helicopter.)
Jeremy’s qualities came from some of the lessons he learned in the foster care system. After a short stitch in juvie, Greene started creating music and uploading it to MySpace, calling music his “lifelong dream.” However, he had to face the illegal activities that take place on MySpace when people started distributing his music illegally and hackers started giving his tracks away. He confronted a certain hacker and asked him,
“If you can hack my page, can you also hack MySpace?”
When the hacker replied yes, Greene convinced him to promote his music by gaming the MySpace algorithm, ending with a record deal offered by MySpace’s record label. This success lasted only a short while as he eventually parted ways with the label, went broke, and lost touch with many friends. All the while, he knew something bigger would happen to him.
After watching The Social Network, Greene knew he had to build something. He went to bed that night with the dream of starting his own company and woke up the next morning with the idea for PingTank fully formed. Greene envisioned PingTank as a new way for people to communicate and a creative way for people to express themselves through photos. Users can choose from hundreds of animations to lay over photos and “ping” the creation if they like it or “tank” it if they dislike it. In just the first few weeks after its launch, PingTank attracted 2500 users. The app really started running when music producer Lars Halvor Jensen came into the picture (Greene cold messaged him on Facebook about music production) and invested in PingTank -- he is now the company’s President and CFO.
One of Greene’s trademark bold moves was when he reverse engineered the email of legendary VC, Tim Draper, through the secretary’s email address. In less than 20 minutes, Draper responded to Greene inviting him to pitch PingTank in Palo Alto. As the PingTank mascot was a penguin, Jensen picked up a penguin costume and stood beside Greene as they pitched one of the most prominent venture capitalists in a room full of entrepreneurs. At the end of the presentation, Tim turned to everyone in the room and said,
“You’re probably looking at the founder of the next Facebook” and invested immediately.
Most people seem to share the sentiment Draper has about PingTank that is, “PingTank has the potential to allow a whole new brand of communication.” To date, PingTank has raised $2.2 million, has 17 employees and over a million users. Greene is also currently rebooting his music career to promote PingTank by launching concerts on college campuses and soon he will be rolling out a Snapchat competitor called ReallyYo (which we can only assume is going to be big).
What to take away? It doesn’t matter if you began with a troubled youth, or spent years in a trailer park. With hard work, determination, and a solid plan, anything is possible as Greene has showed the world.
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