Forming Gunaxin

As I stated yesterday in the “About Me” post, in the Fall of 2008 I was looking to establish my own business. After taking an inventory of my skills and interests, I decided a Sports related blog was the way to go. At the time, I don’t think I even knew what WordPress was, nor any of the sites and tools I would later use to promote the site. I had been living in the narrow world of the technology utilized at my day job. I established a site called Cheat or Beat, in order to cover the niche of cheating in sports. In interest of getting to the Gunaxin story, I’ll spare you the details of that project, but essentially it served as a training ground for the later creation of Gunaxin.

My original site, now dormant.

I was relatively successful with this site, in a short period of time. I was encouraged by that success to look to expand, so I began coming up with additional ideas for sites that I could start. I learned early on that networking and cross linking between sites had been key to my quick start with Cheat or Beat, so I thought if I could bring on some other people, we could make an entire network of sites that worked together.

With that in mind, I brought together two of my former roommates, Zach and Fred, along with my neighbor Rick. He brought along his cousin Andy, and the 5 of us met one evening in October together to discuss this idea I had. I showed them what I had created, how it all worked, and discussed my idea to create an entire series of sites. We started brainstorming the possibilities, with each of us having our own specific niches or interests areas.

In my preparations for the meeting, I had already decided that I would call this network, “Gunaxin.” It’s a brand name that I had used for my personal endeavors for about 10 years. It comes from a Delaware Indian dialect, and means “to be tall, rich, big, or grand.” The word is actually part of the Indian name I was given when I became a Vigil Honor member in the Order of the Arrow (Scouts), that I mentioned in my introduction.

Finally a few hours into the meeting, Rick spoke up and stating something to the effect of, “Why would we all put so much effort into creating individual sites, when we could just work together and create one big site?” Immediately we realized how much sense that really made, as we would avoid the hassles of creating and maintaining multiple sites. So we began looking at our lists of ideas, and grouping them together.

That is when we came up with the Six Categories of content, Sports, Girls, Humor, Media, Gadgets (originally Gear), and Beer (ultimately changed to Grub 1.5 years later). Once we had the concept for the site decided upon, it came time to name it. I strongly fought for Gunaxin, mainly because it had personal meaning for myself, but also because it was a unique name that actually meant something relevant to the site. The others didn’t really have any strong candidates, so ultimately my idea won.

Very early version of Gunaxin, before modifications to theme.

Within days of the meeting, we had registered the domain (which I had previously owned many years earlier), setup the software, selected a theme, and began creating the site. Each of us had committed to creating at least one piece of content on each week day. At the beginning this worked relatively well, as a couple of us were doing much more. Having such broad areas of content really allowed us to hit anything and everything that interested us. We established e-mail accounts for everyone, and tried to stay in close contact via a group e-mail list.

The main benefit of starting a site from scratch with five people was that we had plenty of content, and plenty of people who were able to promote that content. A few of us quickly got up to speed with Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. We utilized networking partners that I had established while working on Cheat or Beat, and worked our butts off promoting. In our first full month online, November 2008, we nearly reached 1 Million pageviews.

Server issues, redesigns, new ideas, departing partners, and much much more are part of the full story of Gunaxin. However those tales will have to wait till future posts.