This summer, we featured Republic, a newly launched equity crowdfunding platform that focuses on supporting women founders. Since then, several mission-driven companies have launched their fundraising campaigns on Republic, and the phenomenal women behind these companies deserve our spotlight and support. We're excited to share their stories with you through this interview series. Women 2.0 also has a group on Republic, so join us there to continue the conversation about Whim and other amazing women-led companies.
W2: What inspired you to start this company?
EP: I used to work for OkCupid Labs and have been thinking about problems in the dating space for a long time. When dating apps became mainstream a few years ago, I noticed how frustrated people were with the experiences they were having. Everyone was spending incredible amounts of time and energy swiping and messaging, doing so much work just to get to the point of meeting up in person. Then, a date would finally happen, and often there would be this huge let-down after all that texting build-up. So many people shared with me that they felt emotionally exhausted. We now even have a term for it; we call it "dating app fatigue."
It turns out that on these other dating apps, only 11% of matches make it to a real-life date -- and that's after an average of 12 days of texting back and forth! To me, this is crazy. Most people on dating apps are on there because they want to find meaningful, rich, real-life connections -- not text strangers all day. I knew that I could create a much better, more efficient, and more delightful way to help people connect in real life. That's what Whim is all about.
W2: Give us a glimpse of a few moments from a typical day for you at Whim.
EP: I work with an amazing, distributed team. Every day starts with a Google Hangout with our software engineers, who are based in Buenos Aires. We catch up on where we are development-wise, set goals, discuss product issues, and resolve any questions that have come up in the last 24 hours. After that I could be doing any number of things: designing a new screen, writing specs for a new or modified feature, analyzing our data, responding to support emails, running marketing/acquisition campaigns, reviewing user profiles, dealing with Apple, and more. Most recently, we kicked off this equity crowdfunding campaign with Republic, so I'm also spending time working with their team on our fundraising initiative.
W2: What's one thing that surprised you during the process of building the product and company?
EP: I've been pleasantly surprised by how effective we've been with our distributed team. I think this is the best team I've ever had the privilege to work with, and that includes several teams based locally here in San Francisco. I'm here in the Bay Area; we have engineers in Buenos Aires, a social media marketer in Dallas, a PR/Communications lead in Chicago, a designer in LA, Republic in NYC.... It turns out that the distance forces all of us to be organized and efficient in our work together. I'm really thrilled with the people who have come together to make Whim a reality and help it grow.
W2: What excites you about this future where your users can also be your investors?
EP: Inviting our users to be our investors is fantastic because it puts us into a paradigm of being "a dating app by the people, for the people." The reality is that most professional Valley investors don't use dating apps themselves, and don't have a firsthand understanding of the experience or pain points. Our users, on the other hand, understand the reality of Whim and dating apps intimately. That makes them the ideal people to give the kind of impact and influence that investors typically have. We plan to stay in close contact with our user-investors, keeping them updated and regularly seeking their input and feedback.
Here are my four top reasons why someone should invest in Whim:
- Investing in Whim supports a movement of love and genuine connection. There is so much loneliness and disconnectedness out there, and Whim is a technology that actually helps bring people closer together. We're on a quest to influence dating and social culture in a positive way, and as an investor, you get to participate in that.
- It's a fantastic, potentially lucrative investment opportunity. Whim is an innovative, lean, early-stage startup in a $2+ billion market growing 14% year over year -- and we are going places. We've been covered in Glamour, Marie Claire, TechCrunch, The Los Angeles Times, and more, and our user base is climbing 20% per month. What we've accomplished so far is just the beginning. We expect massive growth in 2017 and beyond; first in the U.S., and then the rest of the world.
- You'll be helping to democratize the startup investment market. Until May of this year, startup investing was limited to the Silicon Valley elite. All that money and power was in the hands of a select, wealthy few -- mostly men, I might add. Thanks to Title III of the JOBS Act, now anyone can invest and have a chance to share in the winnings. It's exciting and impactful to be on the forefront of this economic and political change.
- Last but not least: Women should support women! As women in tech, being so outnumbered in our industry, we face a unique set of challenges ranging from unconscious bias to overt sexism. We've got to unite to help each other succeed -- have each other's backs and lift each other up. Investing in female-founded companies you believe in is one great way to do that.
W2: How can the Women 2.0 community support you in your startup journey?
EP: Thanks for asking! We'd love to see Women 2.0's support in any of the following ways:
Eve Peters is founder/CEO of 500 Startups-backed Whim, the app that gets you from phone to date in just a few taps. She is a passionate entrepreneur, leader, and product developer specializing in web and mobile apps that facilitate meaningful, real-life connections. Eve was also the Creator and Product GM of roommate + apartment-finding website Crashpad at OkCupid Labs. She was Founder/CEO of group dating website MIXTT, a TechCrunch50 company. She has a BA from Stanford University and a JD from UC Berkeley. She is currently based in San Francisco and has also lived and worked in Los Angeles, Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Wellington (New Zealand).