We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Geoffrey Chan”, Founder of the Miami based start-up “ShareWhere”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
ShareWhere is a new anonymous social sharing application, it is location based and tied to the places and people around you. There are no usernames and it is 100% anonymous. Users can go on and post a picture or text and say what’s on there mind about a specific location or place in there area. You can mention something that may have happened in the past or expose a dirty little secret that is going on as we speak. Only Users nearby can comment or message with one another.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
We came up with the idea about a year ago and have been working on it ever since. We just recently launched a few weeks and it’s amazing to see how it’s picking up steam so quickly, especially with the college demographic.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
As of right now, we are just focussing on building and improving the application as much as possible. We are building a strong user base and we want take the input of our users and continue to grow ShareWhere as much as possible.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
My partner and I have actually known each other since the first grade. He is one of my closest friends and we think a lot alike in many ways. However, we both bring different things to the table. I focus more on the application development and my partner very heavily influences the creative and design side. Sometimes we fight like brothers, but at the end of the day we respect each other tremendously and really compliment one another’s abilities, which is why we work so well together.
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?
It’s no secret (no pun intended) that we are not the first anonymous app. You have secret and whisper among a few others and of course there are going to be slight similarities. With those applications, the users can express themselves anonymously but it’s much more broad. Anything can be said and there is usually no connection to the person who is reading it. With our application we focus more about the places and locations around you. We have even been called the anonymous version of “Yelp”
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Well we only launched a few weeks ago and we really just wanted to spend that time making sure everything was running smoothly. We told a few friends about it to help us test and they told a few friends and before we knew it, ShareWhere started picking up a steam at a few local college campus’s. Our goal is to launch it in a few more college’s and let it organically grow form there, which we are happy to say it seems to be doing on it’s own which is very exciting.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
I would say our competitors are applications that involve the anonymous aspect. You have your “whisper” and “secret” but our application seems to draw a different demographic. Partly due to the location based aspect of it, the locality of the app draws in a lot of students who like to chat with others around them while staying anonymous.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
We are fortunate to be working with a lot of great people so we haven’t faced an abundance of obstacles. You have your normal issues that will arise when making such a complex application, but all in all it has been a very smooth experience.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
I would just say that challenge that comes with creating an application that really engages the user and entices them to keep coming back. Most people look at successful applications and say “hey, I could have done that”. But when you actually sit down and get to work, i think most would be very surprised as to much how much actually goes into something like this.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We really created an experience the draws the user back in. You can have a great idea, but if the application you create doesn’t match the thought then your doomed from the get go. Luckily, the one thing we have really noticed is how involved people seem to get. On the second day of launching (testing), we had a post with over 400 comments and that city only had 50 users who could comment. So you can imagine how much the users were really getting into it and wanting to put there 2 cents in.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
That’s a tough question at the moment, we are already see things shifting from what we thought it would be to what it actually can be. Our initial vision for the application was geared more toward anonymous posts regarding hot spots in you area (bars, clubs…etc). While we are definitely getting many of those, we are also seeing it to be very useful on college campus’s. Many students are using it connect with one another and it’s really cool to see it having such a positive effect so quickly.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
We really thought it would be neat to give people around us the opportunity to express themselves candidly. There are so many amazing places around us and hearing about other experiences from people who have been there (whether it be funny, serious or comical) really makes for a unique experience.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We’ve learned that it really takes a strong team to grow something like this. The initial development and launch were just one phase of this application. What happens after you launch is a completely different animal.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Hopefully keeping up with growth, I often hear people complain about that and it really makes me chuckle. it is much better than the alternative and luckily we believe we are well prepared for anything that comes our way.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The main benefit for the user is having ShareWhere as an outlet to express themselves and whats going on at the places around them. They are able to interact with people nearby and really get to see what’s truly happening in there city. It’s definitely a unique experience.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Right now it just seems to be spreading through word of mouth, which is how we were hoping it would start to takeoff. Not because we don’t want to spend money marketing, but if people are telling there friends about it that means they really enjoy the user experience, which more than anything is incredibly fulfilling to know.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our application definitely seems to be catering to the younger demographic. The college scene really seems to be latching on to it. We never really had a specific customer in mind though, we have seen students discussing high schools all the way up to retiree’s getting involved and telling us things about places they once worked at, it’s really cool to see.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Again, we have been fortunate and it’s been all word of mouth. A few students started using it, then they told there friends who may have known someone in a fraternity and before we knew it the whole campus was getting involved. it just seems to be spreading on it’s own and that is more satisfying than anything.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Our feedback has been great, everyone seems to love the user experience. We have been told many times that it is incredibly easy to navigate and within a few minutes most people seem to have a great grasp on the entire application.
20. How are you going to scale?
Again, right now we are just focussed on improving the application and building the user base. We definitely have a few things in mind that we are excited to implement when the time comes but for now just watching this application sort of scale on it’s own is really exciting.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
There is a fine line between providing the user with to many options and not offering quite enough. Everybody wants a Ferrari, but sit in one and I’ll bet 9/10 people wouldn’t be able to figure out how to drive it because it’s so complex. We haven’t really received an requests for missing features, there were a few very small things we worked on the first few updates but as right now I think we did a fantastic job of of toting that line between to not enough and to much.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
The beauty of our application is you can use it anywhere in the world and it works exactly the same. Someone in Beijing can post something and only those around them will be able to comment and message that user. In fact, I use that example because we have already seen several posts in other areas of the world, including Beijing.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
It might sound cliche but the sky’s the limit for us. As more and more people start to get involved and use the application it just continues to grow on it’s own. We do have several strategies in place for continued development so as we grow we will begin to implement those as well.
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?
We have a great team around us and as of right now we believe we can handle the increasing growth. However as we continue to move forward, we will eventually need to bring more people in. We have actually had several promising individuals reach out to us on there own which is great to see and really gets excited.
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 so have some great funding in place and for the time being we are not looking to take on any partners. As with any growing business, as we continue to expand we will more than likely seek out additional funding if we find it necessary. We are not looking for any additional backing at the current moment but if VC’s want get in contact with us now just to learn a little more, they can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Things may get tough, actually correction, things will get very tough along the way. Those who truly believe in themselves and there idea however will never get deterred from achieving their ultimate goal. The ones that don’t give up aren’t guaranteed success, but they have the greatest chance to achieve it.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Check us out for yourself at www.ShareWhereApp.com