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Business

TweetFind Takes Guesswork Out of Making Twitter Connections

Entrepreneur Ruben Orozco creates a community of followers from an idea born of frustration at not having any

“What’s this Twitter thing?”

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Those were the fateful words uttered by Ruben Orozco, founder of TweetFind.com, at the 2008 PubCon, an annual social media and search marketing conference in Las Vegas that attracts some of the most innovative names in the world of cutting-edge Web technologies and trends.

Orozco, a local entrepreneur and computer administrator at San Marcos High School, had been invited to PubCon by his cousins, Mario and Merrick Lozano, who operate a San Diego-based news-release service site called PRLeap.com. He had declined the invitation in previous years, but Orozco says that in 2008, he decided that a weekend in Vegas with family was just what he needed, so he made the trip. Little did he know that the Las Vegas desert was destined to bear him some unexpected fruit.

“There were a ton of entrepreneurs at PubCon, and when I started talking to some of them, they all just kept talking about Twitter this and Twitter that,” Orozco said. “This was in 2008, when Twitter wasn’t super popular like it is now, but I was really intrigued because of all the buzz about it.”

When Orozco returned to Santa Barbara, he immediately signed up for a Twitter account and began exploring the functionality of the burgeoning technology. After the first couple of weeks, however, he was unable to attract any followers and he said frustration set in. That was when the initial concept for TweetFind began to foment in his head.

“After a few weeks on Twitter without much interaction, I just thought, ‘There has to be some a sort of directory that lists other entrepreneurs and businesses,’” Orozco said. “So I decided then that I wanted to create my own directory. It took me a couple of weeks to decide on the layout of the site, the name and the logo and everything, and after only a month or so, I had it all packaged up and I went to rackspace.com, a free hosting site, and got it going.”

The end result of Orozco’s efforts was a free, easy-to-use Web site through which people could create a listing, and immediately begin finding and networking with other entrepreneurs and businesses on Twitter. Users can search for individuals, businesses, or browse through a number of different categories, depending on what they are looking to find on the site. Orozco has also recently added a “related users” feature that automatically offers suggestions for new followers, based on an individual’s profile and search history. While TweetFind has no direct affiliation with Twitter, there is a link for first-timers to create a Twitter account on the TweetFind homepage.

As the once esoteric Twitter juggernaut exploded into pop culture ubiquity last year, TweetFind began to experience some impressive growth of its own.

According to Orozco, throughout 2009, TweetFind was getting between 100 and 300 unique visitors per day. So far in 2010, that number has jumped to between 400 and 600 uniques daily. This increase is all the more impressive when taking into consideration the fact that all of the site’s traffic thus far has been generated through word-of-mouth advertising.

In July, Orozco gave his site a facelift, making it both more stylish and more user-friendly. He also added a feature that allows frequent users to pay a minimal monthly fee for an “enhanced listing” — these users show up at the top of their categories, which can really help entrepreneurs spread the word about a fledgling business, says Orozco.

TweetFind founder Ruben Orozco, left, hanging with Drew Pinsky M.D., better known as Dr. Drew, who dispenses advice on celebrity rehab and relationships.
TweetFind founder Ruben Orozco, left, hanging with Drew Pinsky M.D., better known as Dr. Drew, who dispenses advice on celebrity rehab and relationships. (TweetFind.com photo)

“It’s a great way to get good quality, low-priced exposure,” he said. “They get more followers, which obviously means more customers, and more sales and revenue for businesses.”

While its implications for business owners are manifold, Orozco says he hopes that people will also use TweetFind as a way to expand their personal social networks.

“It’s geared toward entrepreneurs and small businesses, but it can also be good for people who just want to reach out and make some new friends!” he said.

For Orozco, who manages all aspects of the Web site on his own, TweetFind began simply as a hobby, but it is quickly becoming much more than that. Various social networking conferences have become a regular part of Orozco’s life, and he has had the opportunity to speak on a few occasions with the co-founders of Twitter, Evan Williams and Biz Stone. He has also gotten the chance to rub elbows with celebrities like skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, actor and model Tyrese, and shrink to the stars, Dr. Drew Pinsky. With the growing number of celebs constantly tweeting about their lives and careers to stay connected with their fans, Orozco is optimistic that cultivating such relationships could take TweetFind’s popularity to new heights.

In the meantime, Orozco is not resting on his laurels. Within the next couple of months, he plans to launch what he is calling “TweetFind Tools,” a feature that will allow members to view their statistics on the site to analyze how much new traffic they are generating through the use of TweetFind. Orozco’s own analytics software revealed a rather surprising trend over the past year — one that bodes well for the future of the company.

“Checking the analytics, this year, about 75 percent of our users are in the U.S., but I see some big international traffic growing, too,” Orozco said. “A full quarter of our users are now outside of the U.S., particularly in Latin America and the Asian markets. It has already gone worldwide, which is pretty neat.”

As Orozco continues to improve and expand his Web site, and to promulgate his company’s name at networking conferences throughout California, he hopes that the next generation of entrepreneurs will find themselves at this year’s PubCon Las Vegas Nov. 8-11 asking, “What’s this TweetFind thing?”

“I’m really just learning as I go,” Orozco said. “The best thing for me is just knowing that I’m helping people make connections. I truly want to enable people to have an enhanced Twitter experience.”

Click here for more information on TweetFind. Click here to become a Facebook fan of TweetFind.

— Kevin McFadden is a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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