Why scour online dating sites for potential matches when your real Valentine might be waiting in your Facebook contacts? That’s the idea behind Like Secret, a 2-month-old startup that’s taking the covers off its online dating service this month.
The company was founded by Drew Blaisdell — a 20-year-old who is studying informatics and philosophy at the University of Washington — and Jesse Pollak — a 19-year-old computer science major at Pomona College. The two founders, interestingly enough, have never met. But they do share a passion for making it easier to find the perfect boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, we caught up with Blaisdell for the latest installment of Startup Spotlight to find out whether the new upstart will have the special pixie dust to play Cupid in this modern era.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Like Secret lets you pick out the friends you’re romantically interested in. If two people pick each other, they are both matched up. If not, your choices are anonymous.”
Inspiration hit us when: “One day, my co-founder Jesse realized that in college, meeting people is easy, but gauging interest is difficult. We decided to flip the idea of a dating website on its head and see if people would be willing to admit this interest if there was no chance of rejection.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We are bootstrapping with our own cash right now. It is a lot easier to put yourself in a situation where failure is an option if you aren’t accountable to anyone else, and if failure isn’t an option, you aren’t doing anything new.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our friends tell us they love using the site even without any serious objectives just because there is no risk. Everyone is curious.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “We started developing on New Year’s Day. Knowing that we wanted to do a soft-launch a couple weeks before Valentine’s Day motivated us to work relentlessly on nights and weekends for all of January.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We had a database bug the night we launched that created a ten minute delay when pulling in your friends through Facebook Connect. We still had users wait and refresh after ten minutes, but 10gen (the company that develops MongoDB) was nice enough to help us figure it out and turn that ten minutes into five seconds.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Jobs, absolutely. Following his example, we know that at the end of the day, your product trumps everything else. We have written features that never ended up on the live site just because we know that sometimes making the tough decision to scrap an idea that you’ve worked many hours on is the right decision. Jobs was infamous for forcing the people around him to iterate, again and again.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “We see our tipping point being when we enter the public consciousness of an area to a degree that using our application is seen as just another viable way to initiate a relationship.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We are working on a problem that no one else has even attempted to tackle.”
We are truly unique because: “My co-founder and I met through Hacker News, but have never actually met in real life, as we go to different schools.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Sometimes, not being in the same room can make it difficult to work out a problem. I can only imagine how productive we’ll be when we start working in the same room.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “If it is even remotely feasible to do so, just go build it. You won’t know how good or bad your idea is until you watch others interact with your own creation.”