Jamie Proctor ’96 founds social media sentiment platform Twitter
Admit it. You’ve experienced road rage, right? So, what’s the most annoying driving technique? A “slow-moving left-laner” or a “cut off artist”? Thanks to Jamie Proctor ’96, you can “Sweigh” in and let your voice be heard.
Proctor views online commenting forums as a “Wild West” and he just might be the new sheriff. In the Apple store, Sweigh promises to cut through “snarky comments, boring posts, or likes from your Mom” to reveal what people really think. If polls provide data and comments provide feedback, Sweigh delivers the best of both worlds by combining the two for a more engaging user experience.
“The opportunity to create something new and potentially disruptive [in the marketplace] is amazing,” says Proctor, who disrupted his own life to chase down his entrepreneurial dream.
In 2013, he left a successful career that he loved as a managing director at JP Morgan to fulfill the “gnawing desire” to start Sweigh. The move was, in a word, “terrifying.” But worth it, he adds. Each day brings a new opportunity to be creative and improve the status quo of interactive websites.
“I truly wanted to see if I could create something from nothing,” says Proctor, who serves as president and COO of Sweigh. “That, to me, was the largest test of my professional life, and the timing was right to make the leap.”
Proctor explains that only the most passionate readers (less than one percent of site visitors) offer opinions. Everyone has an opinion, though, so how can websites and blogs engage more of their audiences? As it turns out, the answer lay in something he learned at Lafayette – listening better.
An international affairs and Russian & East European Studies graduate, Proctor learned that being a good communicator is about a lot more than expressing one’s own opinion.
“The most important thing I learned was to listen carefully,” he says. “People give many clues about how they want to be treated either in business or in life. You just have to listen, and in doing so, you will become a great communicator.”
Sweigh does just that by providing another avenue for site visitors to be heard. Many people may not leave a written comment, but through Sweigh, they can voice their opinions via polls. While Sweigh does not create the polls, it provides a platform that allows both the audience and digital publisher to communicate through polling. Publishers can gain more insight into what readers value by letting them vote and create their own Sweigh polls.
It may be the hardest work Proctor has ever done, but it is also the most exciting.
“Every day, there are wins and losses, and I have had to learn that the highs aren’t as great as I thought and the lows are not as devastating as they may seem at the time,” he says. “I have an absolute respect for any small business owner, whatever their industry. This is about as hard as it gets from a work perspective.”