In case you don’t know me, my name is Jake Mor. I’m 24 years old have been developing iPhone and Web apps for almost 10 years. I’m currently working on FitnessAI — an artificially intelligent app that helps you get stronger
HQuack is a website I made that displays predictions to HQ Trivia questions in real time, every single day. It started off as a small project out of curiosity, but then it went viral.
The funny part of this story is that none of this was intentional. When I first built HQuack, it didn’t have a name, and it wasn’t a website — it was just a program that ran on my laptop. Friends eventually found out, and kept asking me if there was a way they could use the bot too.
I gave it some thought and decided to add a page to my website, jakemor.com/hq, which mirrored the results I was getting on my laptop.
The way it worked for users was simple. A question would show up on HQ, and after a second or two, the question would show up on jakemor.com/hq, with the proposed answer highlighted in green.
Fast forward about 10 days — visitors on my personal site grew 10,000% to 1,000 visitors/week. I thought that was crazy, because the only way to reach jakemor.com/hq was directly; it wasn’t linked to anywhere on the internet.
As word of mouth continued to spread, I began to wonder how big this could get. I decided to spin off jakemor.com/hq as a new product, and the more user friendly HQuack.com was born.
The site began to grow 20% day over day, and after three weeks, the site hit 4.5k users.
Then, the media picked it up. The first article mentioning HQuack was written by Paris Martineau for The Outline on Wednesday Jan. 31st.
The day after it was published, HQuack went from 4.5k users to 11k. After that first article, Complex, BuzzFeed and CNET picked it up, and by Superbowl Sunday the site hit 19k users — a 400% increase in users over the span of 4 days.
At that point, three things happened: first, my mind was blown because I never thought I’d actually make something that would go viral, second, I began to realize the affect media can have on a small side project, and third, I began to wonder if there were any ethical problems here.
I decided it would be okay to keep the site up, because in reality, HQuack never got 12/12 questions right. It had gotten 11/12 only once before, and most of the time it only got around 9/12 right (and not in order). Sure, people were getting further than they would have without HQuack, but I never felt like HQuack was ruining the game for the masses.
Then, on Feb. 6th, just as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy was launching, this happened…
HQuack went 11/12 during the midday game on Feb. 6th, and the only question it got wrong was the first one (which was a fairly easy question). That game, HQuack had 13k users, and HQ had almost 9k winners 🤔
To make matters even crazier, HQuack went 11/12 again that night, and HQs payout was only $0.89. It was becoming more apparent that when HQuack was accurate, it had a serious effect on HQ.
The next day, I woke up to an email from Rus Yusupov, HQ’s CEO. We scheduled a time to chat, and came to the conclusion that taking down the site was the right thing to do. It was fun to build something that went viral, but at what point was HQuack just ruining someone’s startup?
At the same time, my business partner and I decided to focus on an idea that we think will be huge. It’s going to be by invite only at first, so we replaced the site with a sign up form for what’s coming next. To our surprise, 25k people have already signed up!
As an aspiring tech entrepreneur, it was fun to have my product in the hands of many people. This has been an extremely exciting journey, and I can’t wait to begin the next. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: 1/23/19 — I’ve launched my latest app :) https://getfitnessai.com.
Thanks for reading. If you like this story and want to stay up to date on future projects, follow me on Twitter.