Chris Borkenhagen wants to make it easier to invite friends to do fun things together, and then split the bill once they’ve purchased movie tickets or gone to dinner. The entrepreneur’s new GoDutch iPhone and Android application, which just launched today, allows users to send event information to social networks via Facebook, Twitter, email or text messages.
We chatted with the 42-year-old former employee of Corbis and Microsoft and current employee at Concur for the latest installment of Startup Spotlight.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “GoDutch is a mobile application that gives people the ability to create events, tied to points of interest, and invite their friends to participate.”
Inspiration hit us when: “As an active group of people that enjoy a host of community- oriented sports like wake surfing, snowboarding or cycling …. we noticed that it was annoying trying to gather people together through any one way. We saw an immense opportunity in the mobile app space to provide a single rich interface that could reach out to all our friends across various social network streams from the palm of our hands.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrap. We knew that we had the right team to execute our vision and strategy in concert with the key components that drive a successfully balanced business, without external funding. As we embark on phase 2 of our strategy we are open minded about future financial prospects to continue our trajectory.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Most apps today are hell bent on hooking into the rampant “Deal offerings” ad network. We think the industry is ignoring a core group of customers, the small merchant. Mobile advertising is an ocean of untapped opportunity not just reserved for the ubiquitous ad channels to manage. GoDutch will provide in-application tools for merchants allowing them to control their marketing strategies without inadvertently throwing untargeted ad content into the users’ face.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “The original GoDutch design ended with users sharing events with a limited in app audience and an incomplete monetization model. As we dissected the mobile space, it became evidently clear that we needed to build a bridged social networking experience that benefited both users and merchants. We offer this on the two largest smartphone platforms: iPhone and Android.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Our laser-like focus for the past five months has been strategically targeted at building our mobile application and business. Designing and creating a marketing/company Web site dropped in priority.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Jobs. Steve Jobs would have done everything in his power to ensure that we succeed. Think Jonathan Ive and his designs and then how Jobs embraced them. Steve was not the end-all be-all engineer/designer that created every widget or product, nor did he envision everything that Apple sent to market. Instead, Steve had the innate ability to recognize ideas that offered great value potential without compromising quality.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “Users see the true value and rich application experience GoDutch delivers by connecting them to their community of friends and venues.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We take creativity and design seriously. We are not out to build yet another revenue-less application that offers something fun yet not needed. …. We understand the soft and hard costs in delivering a product. Our rivals should fear us because we will deliver well thought out and engineered experience simultaneously on both iPhone and Android devices on time and meeting the goals we have set up.”
We are truly unique because: “We are not dependent on some external factor that needs to either occur or get out of the way in order for us to succeed. We are able to continue to do what we love and adjust to our customer’s responses for the long term, without regard to external pressures that would force a normal startups hand.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Knowing when to cut losses, separating ourselves from a previous application and business that had extreme potential, but posed a massive amount of complications from a business perspective.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Understand the leanest way to run your product and business. There is a wealth of great tools and services for software startups that cost little to nothing or that offer deferred plans. Don’t ‘buy’ into the hype that in order to gain traction, you need to spend. Find creative alternatives.”