Story Behind the Sketch – xocial

You could say xocial is what happens when good karma meets the Internet. Instead of measuring our popularity, the platform measures our positive social impact – both the good we see others doing and the good we do ourselves. Colin Duetta is part of the founding team behind the do-gooder app, and he’s shared some early mock-ups with us from when xocial was just an idea they had roughly sketched out. Here’s the story behind them!

xocial napkinFor Colin, the idea for xocial actually did start – quite literally – on the back of a napkin. In 2012, Colin was out with his business partner and soon-to-be business partner talking shop. One of the individuals in their company brought up the idea that a system for collecting “brownie points” would be an interesting innovation.  

“We were sketching the idea out on a napkin, and came up with the initial concept of a point system for recognizing favours that would allow you to reward, revoke, and redeem points,” says Colin. “It was mostly geared at couples at the time, so items like doing laundry, giving a shoulder massage or having dinner with in-laws would earn you points. We actually thought of naming it brownie points back then!”

Colin and his team knew they were onto something with potential once they began vetting the idea with people in their network and receiving positive responses. However, like all new businesses, they encountered some bumps in the road.

transaction historyColin and his business partner Michael Salvatori already had a successful entrepreneurial endeavor under their belts when starting xocial; they’re the founders of thriving Hamilton web development agency, Imagination Plus. But getting xocial off the ground proved to be much different – they weren’t providing a concrete service as an agency anymore, they had to sell the vision of their app.

Colin started working on xocial full-time in October 2014 and pilot tested the app. “That was a pivotal moment, literally, because we realized we had missed the mark and needed to pivot our business,” explains Colin. “We were trying to fit too much into the app, so the team and I locked ourselves in a room and hashed out a concrete corporate ‘why’ statement. It worked, and we settled on the core concept of showing gratitude.”

IF_LL0915_204Colin and his team completely scrapped the old app and built a new one based on the ‘thank-you’ model, making sure to validate it with potential customers. Since, xocial has competed in Innovation Factory’s LiON’S LAIR competition, attended notable conferences like DX3 in Toronto and SXSW in Texas, and been mentioned favourably in a number of media publications as well as a TED Talk.

So what’s Colin’s advice to an entrepreneur who may just have an idea on the back of a napkin, like he did? “Connect with Innovation Factory! (We loved this one). But also make sure you are agile, manufacturing lean and pivoting very quickly. Vet your idea outside of your immediate circle, and don’t beat your idea to death before you get to market!”

To learn more about xocial, visit