Next Tech: I'm With Aviv

How a 25-year-old college dropout became the "it" nerd to the stars.

"I'm With Coco" propelled Conan O'Brien to viral stardom. Actor Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office) has had such success with his metaphysical social network, SoulPancake, that it's soon to be a book and a TV show.

The link between these celebrity-Internet embraces is Aviv Hadar, 25, and his Portland, Oregon-based Web-development studio called Think Brilliant. Mike Mitchell, a Think Brilliant employee, created Coco and released it online, and Hadar's the tech brains behind SoulPancake. "He's a visionary," Wilson says. "He wants to be the next Steve Jobs." Hadar isn't there yet, although he did turn down a job offer from Apple.

Hadar credits his success to his anti-Silicon Valley approach. "I don't want to gauge value by how much funding I get," he says, "but by the success of my products." And that means getting equity, rare for Web shops. He licensed the Coco image to O'Brien and American Express for Conan's live tour, keeping the merchandise rights. Think Brilliant made well into the six figures even before the tour started. He's partners with Wilson in SoulPancake. "We have no interest in selling out," Hadar says.

Up next is a Web service called Ziphook that's designed for organizations to leverage social media. He hopes to launch with the City of Portland as his partner. "We'll wait two years if we have to," he says. "You can't buy publicity like that."

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  • Francis

    I just read both lawsuits, or claims. I don't get the impression that ZIPHOOK was created with stolen money at all. Just because SOULPANCAKE claims that? Do they think they own THINK BRILLANT too? Apparently they're claiming it's illegal to do business?

  • TRU

    You know what's amazing. I know tons of people involved in Soul Pancake. That's where mike really got his first glimpse of exposure. Because Rainn gave him a chance to do the art and get the exposure, Mike had a chance to make a name for himself.

    The second mike started being mentioned in the press, and people started interviewing Mike for the coco image, he didn't mention rainn, soul pancake or anyone else, not even one time. I've talked about this with a lot of people - and it's pretty insane when you think about it. The people who put him on the map, aren't mentioned once during that coco wave.

  • Brittanee

    Well, first off the title is wrong. He is NOT the creator of "I'm with COCO", Mike Mitchell is. He drew the image, he started the facebook group. Basically, he started the IWC revolution. Also, "Brent", the only website built was one made through Shopify, which is like Online Shop for Dummies. I've also never once seen this Aviv guy "get the word out". I've only ever seen Mike do it. Plus, his picture is from a Meet & Greet with Conan through his tour - it's not like he was invited to meet Conan for his "work". Unlike someone else...

  • Brent

    I actually have facts. Lots of them :) The fact that Mike doesn't give recognition where it's deserved shows greed, selfishness, and quite a lot of back stabbing. If I were Aviv, I'd steer clear of people like that. People who don't want to give credit where credit is due. People who are ready to ride waves and not mention the ones that helped them get to where they are.

    As far as I'm concerned, Aviv has the ability to do whatever he wants. Mike should consider himself lucky to ever have been on Aviv's radar.

  • Hannah

    I've been a member of the IWC FB group since it started from what I know, Mike Mitchell created the image. Mike and Lauren take care of the merchandise orders. The image is property of Mike . One thing is building a site which is a pretty basic site, and another thing is being behind the whole movement. People jumping in the wagon is not fair to Mike or the fans. Get your facts.

  • Brent

    Aviv never claimed to be the owner of the image, never once. I've read numerous articles on the thinkbrilliant site where they mention mike as the sole creator. To say they had nothing to do with it is a flat out lie. Everyone who matters knows the truth.

    How is this headline anyone's responsibility? The press is the press. They run with whatever they have.

  • jens

    This article is a complete scam, Mike Michel was the sole creator of the I'm with Coco poster, it was his idea, created by him, Hadar had nothing to do with it. Check your facts please.

  • Brent

    Actually, that's not correct at all. Aviv and Think Brilliant had a ton do with it. I'm pretty sure Aviv built the first site that sold any of the merchandise by hand, and had a major role in getting the word out there. Mike drew the piece, of course, but it says that in the article! As it should.

    Sounds like Mike, Aviv and Think Brilliant did it all together.

  • Mark Alan Effinger

    Love this approach to maintaining creative integrity while also controlling long-term revenue opportunities. That takes guts and a clear view of the horizon. And Aviv making Portland home is way cool (nice score there, Aviv).

    Charles Anderson Design also did the same with Fossil Watches ( ). Smart, and very profitable for all parties.

    Viva le Aviv!