Could you tell us about Evolso in a few words?
Evolso is a new flirting app that offers unique features to female users. It allows women to initiate contact with male users, and gives matches the opportunity to organize their first in-person interaction in their shared favorite venues. Basically, women get to pick guys they want to meet, based on the places they both like to go.
What distinguishes you from Tinder, or other competitors?
We are different because we understand that male and female users have different problems when it comes to dating. Guys experience a lot of rejection, and for girls it’s the “creep factor,” or unwanted contact from men. We solve these issues, and we also focus on real life interaction of the users. We’re not passive the way Tinder is, and It’s not all just about looks.
Tell us about yourself. How did you become CEO of Evolso, as a first time entrepreneur?
I became the CEO of Evolso in 2012 at a Startup Weekend event in Romania. I pitched the idea and formed a wonderful team that is still together today. I was very fortunate to have found like-minded people who wanted to build and create as I did.
And what about your team? Are you all first-time entrepreneurs?
Yes, we all are first-time entrepreneurs, with different backgrounds related to the tech industry! But that’s par for the course these days. We’re learning a lot. It’s all about your will to learn, asking the right questions and being in the right place at the right moment with your breakthrough idea.
The Evolso Team:
You’ve mentioned “giving the power back to the girls.” What does that mean to Evolso? How does Evolso empower women?
Evolso wants to focus more on girls in offering them unique functionalities inside the app, functionalities that male users will not have. We think that if girls let the guys know exactly who they like, this can be a real game changer.
We started out with the idea of a purely “events-based” app. That idea is still a part of how Evolso works, but the inspiration for the app being girl-centered was something that evolved gradually through the mentorship we experienced here at StartupYard. We were constantly challenged to find an angle; an experience none of the other apps can offer. At the same time, we looked at ways that users “game” the current generation of apps to get the most feedback from other users. We found that a lot of this gaming of the system would be eliminated if we changed the rules; if, for lack of a better phrase, we threw out the idea of “fairness.” Allowing women to take the initiative makes this a different kind of product. Who says dating is fair anyway? That’s an assumption we’d like to test here.
What kind of market do you plan to target with this app and platform? How old are your ideal users, and what are their interests?
Our target market is university aged students. Students who want to meet each other, enjoy their student life and have fun. Our desired market is the UK and the English speaking people of Europe. Our users will need to be willing to socialize, open to new people in their lives, and never forget to have fun.
What’s your overall marketing strategy? How will you get to the critical mass you need for a dating app service?
Well that is top-secret now isn’t it? Just kidding. The way we are planning to do the magic is that we want to have Official Evolso parties in key periods for the students in the cities we are targeting. The critical mass factor (of app usage) can be reached in creating the “word of mouth” effect with the parties. We want to be the first thing students think about when they go inside a club and they are reaching for their phones. We are showing venues also inside the app. All the venues that want to be a part of the concept, in the near future, will advertise our app offline or online. Similar to what Foursquare is doing.
For those of us, like me, who pretty much missed the online dating game completely, what has changed with this technology in 10 years? Why is it more attractive now than in the early days of Match.com and other web-based services?
The dating market is very competitive. Only if you are really good, will you really have a shot at making it. At the beginning, online dating websites such as Match.com where very popular, the problem was that you could not use it all the time. Now you have all the technology you need in your pocket, you can access the information when you need it. It is much more attractive now, with a push of a button and a swipe to the left or the right to see what you are looking for. It’s easy, fast, addictive and fun. Evolso is offering all of that, it is easy to use and is offering quality regarding the content it provides.You have it in your pocket and use it for fun. It offers mystery and intrigues the user with not knowing who they will find as a match. Venues are important too, for the first real interaction between users, that’s why we focused also on offering them a way to break the ice and meet for the first time in their favorite common locations. There are other dating apps out there. Our aim is to do something unique that is especially attractive for young, active women. We think that despite the size of the market, that is a segment that has so far gone underserved.
Tell us about your experience at StartupYard. What have been the ups and the downs, and who have been the most valuable mentors for Evolso?
The experience at StartupYard was and still is amazing. I highly recommend young entrepreneurs to try and enter an accelerator if they want to develop their business ideas. Things here are going at an insane pace, and the amount of knowledge you get is purely priceless. Ups and downs? Every startup has ups and downs, the idea is to play the game right and win at the end. One downside was the time we were spending inside and working 11 hours per day, and the upside was that we were spending the time inside and working 11 hours per day ! It is our project. We need to make it work no matter what. The most valuable mentor to us for the moment is Cedric Maloux, who has been there for us at any given time offering his support and guidance to choose the proper path when faced with a problem. He is one of the best minds here at StartupYard. Other valuable mentors for us are Ondrej Bartos for helping us with contacts when we were stuck in the process, David Booth for giving us advice regarding the vision, Viktor Fischer with feedback about the path we are taking and many more. StartupYard’s unique quality is that they are offering a list of very valuable mentors that can change the way a startup will evolve.