We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Dominic Smith”, CEO of the Baltimore USA-based start-up “Imboard”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Imboard is an event discovery and promotion app that allows you to discover parties, meetups, etc. between 5 and 50 miles away or privately from your friends. For event creators/promoters, they’re given the opportunity to promote their event to people they may not have been able to reach otherwise. Promoters may choose to promote publicly, where thousands and more will see your event, or privately for your guest list’s eyes only.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
I began working on Imboard in September, but we officially incorporated as SocialGroupe, Inc. in late February 2015. Imboard is currently being tested in its market at the validation stage.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Imboard is approaching the market with a freemium model for about a year. In the future, premium will allow people to promote their events publicly to everyone.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
I worked in Dr. Carl White’s office where we developed a working relationship. Last fall, Dr. White expressed interest in the project, and he’s been advising me ever since. Dr. Ben Davis received his PHD under Dr. White and has been building databases for him for years now.
Dominic Smith: CEO/front-end developer
Dr. Carl White: Director/Advisor
Dr. Ben Davis: Backend Engineer
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
There’s a trend with most new apps where you follow a person to get updates on their content. On Imboard, the person builds a guest list. The guest list will instantly be able to see any new events that the host promotes privately. Our team took it a step further and offered an exclusive privacy setting where you’re given the opportunity to invite specific people from your guest list to see the event.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
We’re growing at a steady rate. We released a closed beta that helped us find some bugs that could have affected the user experience. Imboard is now available for everyone to download on Google Play!
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
On Facebook, your events are only seen by friends and friends of friends. On Eventbrite, the user can’t see who’s attending an event, nor can they create events from the mobile app. A third of Imboard is location based, so when you discover events you’ll meet people you may not have otherwise. Imboard allows you to see who’s interested in an event and create events straight from the app.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Figuring out which features to keep, and which to scrap. We overcame those obstacles by receiving incite from potential users. I also spent a lot of time and money doing everything, except actually making the app. I talk more about that at:
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
An event discovery and promotion app should bring out people’s desire to experience something exciting. Most phones have high resolution screens, so apps should have plenty of visual content to engulf the user.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We’re going to succeed, because we’re building a team of experienced engineers and entrepreneurs from the ground up. People I would want to work for. We all have years of experience with event planning, and the organization struggles that come with it.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
The possibilities are endless, but it ultimately boils down to how people are utilizing our platform. Think about it this way, Craigslist started out as a platform for discovering events in the San Francisco Bay Area.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
I chose this idea, because I was tired of being stuck in “I don’t know what to do tonight” limbo. I would text friends and skim popular social networks, but that would normally lead nowhere. We want to optimize the way people promote, share, and find out about events, and we believe the only way to do that is to dedicate a platform to it.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
I’ve learned that launching an app isn’t as easy as clicking publish. You have to constantly promote the app, and keep people updated with everything. People need a solid reason to download another 5 mb of memory to their phone. I’ve learned to affectively split my time between marketing and programming the app.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Our biggest problem will be insuring that Imboard scales when the iPhone version releases, and coming up with an appropriate price point that our premium promoters will be happy with.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
*Organize events from a platform that is meant to engage other popular social networks
* People can download and share promoters’ flyers straight from the app, instead of spending hundreds on paper flyers to hand them out to people
*Connect with friends/potential friends before and after events on various social networks.
*Find out what’s new in your city, while seamlessly keeping up with your friends’events.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and word of mouth. Social networking has been effective way of getting the word out thus far. We’ve started a blog to give people some worthy content, which also keeps a steady flow of traffic to the site.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our current users vary, but it’s mostly young people in their early to mid-20. Our initial target market are places where college aged people normally hang out.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Currently through popular social networks, but in the future we expect people to discover Imboard through promotional events with organizations, bars, clubs, and community centers, etc.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
A quote from a user read “I don’t always like to have text conversations with my friends, but Imboard allows me to skip all of that. Now I’ll be able to see what my friends are up to without the convo foreplay!”
20. How are you going to scale?
Our team is continually improving upon our backend. We have a talented backend engineer who’s building and maintaining our backend for scalability. We’re utilizing services like Amazon Web Services (AWS).
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
The iPhone app! iPhones are a big part of the industry,so we’re working our hardest to be iPhone friendly ASAP. Customers are also asking for more flyer templates… it’s popular!
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Yes, we believe there are great business opportunities in other countries especially as tech becomes an important part of their lives. Countries like India, China, and Egypt.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
The event promotion industry is huge being worth around 4.7 billion. U.S. bars and night clubs alone produced 24.5 billion in revenue last year, and that number is expected to grow to 25.75 billion by 2017. No matter the state of the economy, people love to go out and have fun. Our long term goal is to reach 100 million users. We’ll achieve those goals by taking our time and taking the right steps needed to succeed in this market.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
Not at the moment, but we’ll potentially need front-end developers and community managers in the future. As we grow this will become increasingly important. We can be contacted at email@example.com .
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We’re currently looking for seed investment opportunities. Funding will allow us to bring more people onboard and market Imboard more aggressively. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Don’t romanticize, just build it. I talk more about that at:
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
If any event promoters are interested in being considered an official event host for free, head to www.imboardapp.com and fill out a form! We’ll be sure to add you to the list of promoters who should have access to special categories.