It is getting hard to keep track of all the startups out there these days.  There are so many that are getting press from respectable publications and blogs that they are all sort of running together.

So, it is a little ironic that one that stands out is a startup that refuses to tell anyone what the company does.  The secretive startup I am referring to is Hipster.  Based on the LivingSocial rip-off look of their site, they appear to be doing something that will tap into local communities.

Since startups focusing on local are the hip thing to do today (…see what I did there), the big question is what are they doing that is different or better than the others.

Techcrunch has a great post on this, that has barely any information on what Hipster does.  Someone posted a Techcrunch-instigated question on Quora about it, and the Hipster CEO Doug Ludlow answered it …sort of.  Mr. Ludlow provided a vague hint that the company is about connecting with your local community which does not help solve the mystery at all.

Whether Hipster is a legit company that offers something unique, or a clone of several other startups already out there remains to be seen.  Regardless, their strategy of keeping things on the down-low is turning out to be a brilliant PR aphrodisiac and is causing people to sign up for invites in droves.  According to the Techcrunch article they have signed up 10k people in less than 2 days.

That’s right.  10,000 people signed up for an invite to participate in a startup with no idea what the company does.  Myself included.

The mystery is definitely the primary driver of all the sign-ups, but I give credit to the startup for playing on the mystery by adding a layer of sharing to the invite sign-up.

Hipster, Startup, Techcrunch, Eric Williamson, Pixel Maverick

The initial sign-up is typical of all startups today.  A single field to enter your email address and then you wait for your beta invite.  The confirmation screen that appears after you submit your email address is a cool twist though.  They are making the beta signup interesting by prioritizing the invites based on how many referrals a potential invitee can gather via social sharing (Twitter & Facebook).  It queues up a referral code link with your shared tweet/fb post and you have to get at least 3 referrals to be invited yourself.  The more people that you refer, the closer to the front of the line you get.

Now that I think about it, the whole notion of “refer 3 friends” is exactly how the LivingSocial deal sharing structure works too.  What is Hipster’s deal with copying LivingSocial anyway.  Oh wait, nobody can answer that except Doug Ludlow.

I am intrigued to say the least.  Hopefully I will get enough referrals to figure out the mystery early.