Somewhere, somebody is doing the same thing as you. Fact.
There are plenty of analytical tools that can help predict or explain such circumstances, plenty of social discovery sites, and meetup (or hookup) apps designed to bring two such unaware but compatible souls together. But all of these engineering marvels are still lacking when it comes to something important…
Wouldn’t it be awesome if meeting people online could feel a little less… contrived?
Dipify, a free messenger app, looks to bring the pleasure of bumping into great people back into online relationships. No profiles, no preordained meetings, just the chance to connect with people watching the same videos, sharing similar concerns…
Yeah, I wish I’d come up with this one, too. Derek Lam, Creative Director and Co-founder at Dipify, tells us more about the long and treacherous path taken to arrive at moments of online serendipity:
What’s Dipify about?
Dipify is a messenger that introduces you to awesome people, based on online serendipity. Meet friends, and “maybe more” simply by doing what you do. (i.e. watching YouTube). Just set and forget. Dipify is for the internet generation who want to meet friends, share ideas, and “maybe more” simply by being themselves.
What’s the greatest thing about Dipify?
Dipify is the most natural way to meet somebody online – “bumping into” someone doing the same thing at the same time. No need for public profiles and time wasting. Dipify was made to compliment your life, not take you away from it.
How’d you come up with the name Dipify?
Dipify was derived from ‘Serendipity.’ (Dipity was already taken).
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
My first computer was a Compaq from the early ’90s. I was about 12-13 years old when I got my first taste of the internet.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
Working between 2 cities (Vancouver & Bangkok), my time is really sporadic. I usually start work at 1pm and finish off at around 12am (as late as 2am) That way I get the best hours of the day in Vancouver and mornings/days in Bangkok. I have no problem putting in 12 hours of work if I start the day happy.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
My best ideas come spontaneously. Dipify came to me when I was sitting in a park, looking at a sunset, listening to music and enjoying a bottle of wine. There are opportunities all around us at every hour, it’s just being in the mind state to recognize them.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I started this company with 1 partner – we originally had a singles’ event company together. Now we are currently working as a team of 5. We had as many as 10 before.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for awhile. So my confidence comes from surviving previous failed attempts, and my motivation comes from the satisfaction of my previous successes.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
We are blessed with having a great team and tremendous support from our mentors. However, we took our share of lickings. There are as many people around to take advantage of startups as there are to help. People are challenges you cannot solve with money. We put a lot of faith and cash into people, and more often than not, it didn’t work out. At one point, down a lot of cash, were about to give up. It was by chance that Natawon met some great people in Bangkok. We moved there for a year. Our health, family, relationships, finances, and opportunities were really stretched. I moved back to Vancouver for health reasons. Natawon still struggles over there. We both gave up a lot.
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
As much as a B!@#$ dealing with people can be, it is also the best thing about being in a startup. Being transparent and dealing with professional and personal frustrations together has kept us together. For example, delays happen for whatever reason. In the past that caused a lot of tension, especially when marketing has something big lined up. By communicating well with each other, and working together, we are able to avoid personal disasters. We aren’t flawless, but it takes time to open up and stop acting that way.
Work, work, work, work
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
Yes, we work, eat, game, party and sometimes sleep in a partner’s office. But that can only go on for so long. So we scaled back on scheduled office hours and are trying to work remotely. Natawon and I have logged major coffee shop hours. I now work remotely in Vancouver.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
I picture Dipify making an impact on social lives, as well as work with other startups – constantly evolving the way we “bump into” people online – through music, videos, articles, activities and gaming.
That’s some serious startup pride!
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
Experience and everything inspire me. There was a really dark time in my life that I really needed to get away from. Experimenting with music, movies, clothes, sports and everything that we all love to do helped me a lot. That is why I created Dipify, to provide social serendipity and support. I see inspiration everywhere, but it wasn’t easy for me to branch out of my inner circle’s interests.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowdfunded? Where’d you get the money, man?
My partner and I stock-piled cash from previous ventures. We are 100% self-funded, man!
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Don’t get caught up in that startup lifestyle, where you spend cash to look “legit” or because some fancy networking group has some valuable advice. You’re going to need every minute and cent for every user you can get.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Have realistic expectations and SMART goals. Don’t fall prey to “me too” based on other people’s successes – we don’t often have the full story. Setting the bar too high is demotivating. You can always come back and set the bar higher later.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
Charity and travel. I thought about this a lot already.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
I don’t feel successful. Many of us are in startups for social impact. When I opened my first restaurant, my father was against it. We won awards and threw great parties, but at the same time, my dad was right – I just wanted to be cool. I saw lots of people waste their lives away. I’m hoping to do something the opposite. I don’t want to be Moe Sizlack one day.
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
- Google (Gmail, Drive, Maps, YouTube, groups, hangouts & etc) has all the tools for business and life under one login.
- Feedly is the fastest way to keep-up-to date, save for later, and research. It’s got more than meets the eye.
- WordPress has changed the way I approach technology – development, application and communication.
- Reddit is the best way to get involved in a community or a 1-on-1 level. It’s an amazing community.
- Soundcloud is my favorite music discovery site. Music is really important to me.
What is your music streaming player of choice, and what are you listening to right now?
As mentioned above, it’s Soundcloud. Right now I am listening to Bear Hands – Giants (the Knocks remix). Later throughout the night, I am an EDM and energy junkie.
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
I have always wanted to visit Sweden, because I’ve come across a lot of Swedish people in my life, and they are all awesome. (Switzerland is too expensive).
Three people (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @Natawon – because you get a glimpse of what it’s really like to pitch and stay positive being a startup in a foreign country. He has given up a lot to do so. So it inspires me to reach deeper.
- @EvanCarmichael – he occasionally tells some very great, uplifting stories about entrepreneurs (like Walt Disney and Milton Hershey.) He was my Malcolm Gladwell before Malcolm Gladwell.
- @byosko – his stories on accelerators and lean analytics were enlightening beyond the conventional wisdom circulating through startup pep talks.
Please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth.
At this time, we are just starting out of the gate. However, if I were to mention a number, we’ve already won 3 awards/prizes against post-revenue startups. It’s awesome to have people believe in us. Other than that, we haven’t asked for any funding or begun chipping away at our marketing budget yet.
Where can our readers find you online?