While the internet has advanced society in a myriad of ways, the reality is that most of us really just like to mess around with our friends. The explosive popularity of social networks from Facebook to Spotify is more than ample evidence of the fact that most of us are spending a whole lot of time online socializing.
Those of you looking for a new way to hang out with friends should check out a new app called Pickle. It’s a fun new way to share and vote on photos with friends and strangers. Kinda like Snapchat, only competitive. Co-founder and CTO Morgan Steffy took some time to chat with KillerStartups about the struggles of launching Pickle and the best apps and tools for startup founders today. Enjoy!
What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
Pickle centers around a fast-paced voting experience in which you’re shown between two and four user-uploaded images. Your goal is to guess which photo you think the majority of other users will choose. Pickle lets you upload your own sets of photos as well, and get crowdsourced feedback on which of your photos are best in minutes. You can use Pickle to help choose outfits, profile pictures, and make decisions for anything in your life. Pickle’s customers tend to be high school and college students.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
The greatest thing about Pickle is that it is a polling app where all questions become relevant to all people. Because people are just trying to predict what the crowd will say, it no longer matters what they think of the content of what they’re voting on, and instead becomes more about what they think others are thinking.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
We picked the name Pickle because it was unique, included the word “pick” and had the not-too-serious attitude we wanted our company to have.
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
My first computer was a twin head laptop I bought on eBay at age 12 from money I had earned selling sodas. I first got on the internet closer to age 8, to play online computer games.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
At Pickle, we usually start around 9am and work till 10pm, with a few breaks to eat and exercise.
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
My last vacation was to a quaint rural beach town in Ecuador in December 2013. I went after discovering how few tourist go there, because I wanted to enjoy the true culture rather than an Americanize tourist attraction.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Look at our company’s analytics. Following what our users want and shifting to best fit their behaviors and needs is of utmost importance to us.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
For me, coding solutions will actually wake me up in the mornings between 5 and 6am. The rest of my most innovative and creative ideas tend to come to me during runs.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
The company began with just Evan and I, the two co-founders. Now we have grown to a team of 10, by adding two marketers and 6 developers.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
What took our idea from being a fun hobby project to becoming a real company was our acceptance into the Memphis business accelerator, Start Co. They helped us validate our idea and gave us the initial funding we needed to begin working on Pickle full time.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
Our biggest struggles initially were direction. We would often describe our days as if it felt like we were lost in a snow storm and unable to know which way to go. With the stakes rising after we began working on Pickle full time, it became more important that we made less mistakes. Thankfully, after a period of customer discovery and planning, we were able to finally stop spinning our wheels and instead begin moving forward.
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
For me, my biggest professional frustrations occur when things take longer than expected or the specifics of coding just aren’t working out. The elusive code bug can drive me crazy. However, quite counter-intuitively I’ve found that the best way to handle this frustration is to step away from it. Even though taking a break when the frustration itself is rooted in the fact that I wish a task was complete, taking a quick 10 minute walk and getting out of my own head will allow be to be infinitely more efficient when i return, and I often will find the solution almost immediately.
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
Pickle shares a co-working space with a variety of other new tech startups. The space is very open, well lit and I occasionally listen to music, depending on what I’m working on.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
Our vision is for Pickle to become a search engine for opinion. In five years, we want to be able to transform the way people gather group opinion, and begin seeing incredible insights from the big data we’ll have gathered.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
My greatest inspiration comes from a time that at Pickle, we call “osmosis.” Each week, we set aside time for all employees to have an hour or so of free time to read whatever articles, online or in print, that interest them or to experiment with new concepts or ideas. I find that this time is most beneficial for me after a good workout to clear my mind.
How’d you fund this venture?
Currently, Pickle is an extremely lean company as far as costs go. We received a small amount from our business accelerator back in May of this year, and that will keep us going until we raise our seed round. We are currently seeking investment.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Hootsuite, WordPress, and more importantly AppCoda and StackOverflow. There are a lot of sites out there that will give you temporary short cuts for getting a landing page or design out the door. However my bigger advice is that there is probably more that you can do than you realize. Take some time to read through coding tutorials and you can both extend your runway greatly and begin testing some of your ideas without hiring a developer.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Never stop. Know that you will run into problems that seem like good reason to give, but instead of panicking, look for a solutions, it’s probably there.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
After buying a new pair of jeans, I would first enjoy some travelling. However, I do find that vacations get old quickly for me, so I think I would take advantage of the money and time I have to try out whatever bizarre ideas I may have. Urban gardening, augmented reality and new ways of knitting being some of the first.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
Though my company is only just launching its first app now, I do feel like a successful entrepreneur. I set out to publish an app to the app store and I have. People begged to have us let their friends into the beta test. I believe Pickle has created an app that people will use and love and as CTO and co-founder of this company, I do consider myself successful.
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
- Gmail (Duh. Running a company is all about the network and communication)
- AppCoda (Wouldn’t know where to start without it)
- Stack Overflow (To solve all the problems tutorials can’t)
- Pandora (Vital when you hit the 14th straight coding hour)
- Asana (A must for coordinating a team, delegating work, and making sure everything gets done)
Top 5 mobile apps you’re in love with and why?
- Allrecipes – I need food.
- TestFlight – Never could have tested Pickle without it.
- MyFitnessPal – something to make sure I’m healthy, so I can fully focus all my attention on work.
- Mint – Bootstrapped startups generally can offer huge salaries. Mint made sure I had money.
What is your music streaming player of choice, and what are you listening to right now?
Pandora, it’s easy. Currently listening to the Pirates of the Carribean soundtrack. Feeling like you’re on an epic adventure while endlessly typing all day helps keep it interesting.
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
Japan. We’re always looking for new ideas, and so many good ones come from Japan! We’d also love to experience a culture so different than ours.
Please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth.
Raised $15,000 in seed funding -Users spending an average of 10 minutes per use on Pickle.
Where can our readers find you?
Courtesy of Pickle | Chiot’s Run