Dating can be tough, but LikeBright makes it easier. LikeBright is building a dating layer on Facebook to help single people meet trusted friends of friends. Founder Nick Soman shares his experience on starting LikeBright and participating in TechStars, as well as some great advice on the business planning process.
Tell us what your company is all about.
LikeBright makes it really easy to meet your friends’ friends. We’re backed by folks including the scientific founder of eHarmony.
How did you come up with the idea for your company?
I met my fiance through a mutual friend, thought about how natural that experience felt and realized that no one had made a great product out of it yet. And I wanted to build an alternative for my female friends to meeting random people at bars, clubs or online.
Can you tell us if / how you gained user insight before launching?
I interviewed 100 women via Mechanical Turk (http://customerdevlabs.com/2012/08/21/using-mturk-to-interview-100-customers-in-4-hours/) and found out that the lack of social context is a huge problem in dating. We’ve been bringing women in weekly ever since to help us shape our product and our vision.
What metrics or numbers were most important in validating the demand ? How did you get this data?
Our early research showed a huge opportunity in that 90% of single people don’t date online, and most of them do want to date. So we set out to figure out why.
How did you go about acquiring your first batch of users?
We ran an early contest to find the best guys in Seattle according to women. We had a party hosted by Sir Mix-A-Lot to celebrate the winners, and that drove some fun press and users to LikeBright.
What were some of the challenges that you faced starting a company?
I left my job working on the Amazon Kindle to start a dating company and some of my friends thought I was crazy. And I didn’t have any money so I had to find free ways to eat and sleep.
You’re part of the Techstars accelerator program, what difference do you feel being part of an accelerator makes to your company?
The best thing about TechStars for me was constant blunt feedback from smart people. Everyone in the program told me what sucked about our early ideas and what was interesting, and it was tremendously helpful for our business.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur looking to get their company into an accelerator program?
Start a relationship with the decision makers early on, and push to get their blunt feedback of how you can improve your business. That’s part of what the TechStars program is, so get in the habit before it starts.
“Where” do you guys hope to be in the next year with your company (progress wise)?
Right now I couldn’t feel better about our team and our vision. We’ve got work to do to make the product match the vision and I expect us to get it in great shape over the next year.
What advice would you like to give to an entrepreneur thinking about writing their first business plan?
Pick an enormous problem that has hurt you personally, and step away from your computer and go find 10 people with the same problem and talk to them about it for an hour each. If the problem is real, do your research and reach out to the 5 smartest people who have tackled it (whether they succeeded or not) and talk to them for 10 minutes each.
What important mistakes have you made and learned from?
I should have started sooner. Committing completely is at least half the battle.
A massive thank you to Nick for taking the time out of his busy schedule to put down some awesome answers to our questions. We look forward to catching back up with Nick early next year to see how things have progressed. In the mean time check out the site. You can also follow Likebright on Twitter!