Coffitivity, built in RVA, lands on Time list of the 50 best websites

By Jacob Geiger

Some days, working at home can be a drag.

And while you'd love to take your laptop down to the coffee shop, paying for a triple-shot, extra-large cappuccino every two hours is going to put a hole in your wallet.

Enter Coffitivity.

The site, built by four Richmond residents, mixes the ambient noise of a coffee shop — conversation, clinking glasses and such — with a user's music to create just the right amount of background noise. Monday it was named one of “Time” magazine's 50 best websites of 2013.

The site was built by Justin Kauszler. He and fellow co-founder Ace Callwood had the idea while working on CycleStay, a company they started last year.

“I read a white paper in the Journal of Consumer Research that said a moderate level of ambient noise is good for cognition, and I passed this along to Justin,” Callwood said. “We'd been working in coffee shops while trying to rebrand CycleStay, and he said we needed to build a site that would mimic coffee shops.”

Callwood said he told Kauszler the idea wouldn't work. Kauszler's response, according to Callwood: “'Well, I'm going to do it anyway.'”

The pair recruited Nicole Horton to help with graphic design and Tommy Nicholas to drive traffic to the site.

Callwood, Kauszler and Horton are all recent Virginia Commonwealth University graduates who work for the school in various capacities. Nicholas is a University of Virginia graduate who works as a software developer at Shockoe.com.

Kauszler taught himself the coding languages needed to build the site, which became an instant success when it launched March 5.

“Tommy picked the perfect time to post to the site to [business accelerator] YCombinator's blog,” Callwood said. “We picked up East Coast traffic right away and then the West Coast as they were waking up.”

From there the site was featured by highly trafficked technology news sites such as Lifehacker, Mashable and Popular Science.

On March 6 traffic hit 45,000 page views, even with a server crash in the mix. Callwood said the site has averaged around 10,000 unique users each day, with 20,000 to 30,000 hits per day.

But the “Time” list, which went live Monday afternoon, has led to another jump in traffic.

“[Monday] night we were at about 15,000 users,” Callwood said. “We haven't checked the analytics today, but we expect significant numbers.”

 

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