Imagine….

Imagine just a handful of places in each city:
– where you could break the ice with others without face to face pressure
– where people go to say hello to strangers

Imagine how popular those places might become:
– for city newbies and tourists
– for singles

Imagine meeting new people whenever you wanted:
– making connections, having fun
– avoiding unknown outcomes by actually speaking to “that girl / guy”

Just Imagine…….

I’d prefer a confident “Hello!”

The above is the response I recently received from a female dating industry expert when I asked for feedback on the Hello 2.0 product.

This is not the first time I got this feedback, the other time was from a super gorgeous brunette at a field test / networking event last year.

Getting feedback is great and I hugely value it – whether positive or negative

For a while, I got a little down and was thinking Hello 2.0 must be a flawed project as despite men’s enthusiasm, clearly women consistently see no value in the product.

However, after considering this, I wondered if the above feedback was a little simplistic and idealistic – also that it perhaps lacks empathy across the social and gender dimensions

Girls:

Yes, I understand you’d all like to be approached by an interesting, confident, good looking guy to sweep you off your feet but guess what?

– for some girls, this simply does not occur sufficiently often / ever
– some girls dislike such unexpected approaches and would prefer some distance and ability to do some preliminary Q&A and analysis
– If a frivolous Hello 2.0 connection may subsequently lead to the right guy approaching with a ‘confident Hello’……what’s wrong with that?

…….for the super gorgeous Brunette – I know you don’t really need to try too hard about meeting guys so will let you off.

Guys:

– there are plenty of interesting guys out there who lack the confidence / knowledge of how to approach girls
– men often have no idea who is open to an approach within a venue
– men are often shitty at reading girls’ body language
– it can be intimidating if you are surrounded by lots of friends

Using Hello 2.0 is a hybrid in that it shows relevant guys/girls in the room that you are open to a conversation, however it does not mean you are single, you might just want to speak to new people, flirt, set your friend up etc

My name is Mike and although socially awkward, I remain very confident in Hello 2.0

Meet the geek

The -20c temperatures in Toronto have finally gotten the better of me and I am now full of cold and snot so will miss the Silicon Peel networking session tonight – that said, I thought I would revisit what Hello 2.0 is all about so I can make the pitch a little more interesting for future networking events.

Going out/Meeting new people – “The current reality”:

– Although pubs / bars market themselves as “the friendly place to meet new people”, in reality, nothing of the sort ever goes on – especially in puritanical Toronto.

– The technology revolution means we can both talk to our friends without going out as well as meet new people using online dating and dating apps.

– Drink focused pubs/bars are in decline and despite all the new ways to meet people, the # singles keeps on growing.

So why Hello 2.0?

Hello 2.0 bravely (or stupidly (time will tell)) seeks to counter the above trends and show that pubs /bars remain a great meeting place for like minded people, open to real world interactions with new people.

By avoiding face to face introductions, bar-goers can easily and anonymously break the ice in a fun, frivolous and low pressure environment.

In lieu of a snazzy ending to this blog post, here are some random concepts I am noodling on right now:

– launch and initially restrict the service to only one venue per city – the “IT” place
– “meet the geek” theme – appeal to guys who don’t want to go up to women cold and also to women who think geeks are cool

All alone

It is a pretty interesting and often lonely experience being a small one person, post MVP, yet pre revenue start-up

(MVP = Minimium Viable Product, or basically something that is poorly designed and barely works)

To go forward, there are really three clear choices:

1. Get out there and get customers interested in the MVP, develop this further and bootstrap until significant customer traction is established

2. Seek an Angel investment and / or a co-founder so that life is not so lonely, a marketing and sales budget can be put in place and you get to leverage the Angel’s network to open a few doors more easily

3. Quit, and go and work for someone else, secure a nice regular paycheque, and quit being a workaholic .

Having just helped another far more established start-up secure a US VC investment, it is very tempting to go down the #1 route above

However, it is also worth being honest and admitting to having certain skill and resource deficiencies.

It is also critical to ask oneself: “What is the business strategy?”: The answer to this question, above all else, should dictate which of the 1,2 or 3 options above are most appropriate.

Till the next post….

 

Quiet Period

This will be the last blog post for a little while

Hello 2.0 will undergo some radical surgery over the winter but will hopefully emerge as a much better product.

Am working with a new developer to draw up some kick ass wireframes and will see if we can get this re-done early in 2014.

Another reason for the quiet period is that I am working hard to help a fellow start-up raise funding from NYC based venture capital firm in November and its all hands to the pump right now preparing for this whilst simultaneously dealing with potential Canadian Angel investors

Busy times, lots of learning, but lots of fun

Can’t wait to update you on Hello 2.0 over the coming months

Launching a dating app in Toronto…

Have been meaning to update the blog for a while but the 167 things on my “to do” list have been smothering what little creativity I have remaining.

Either that, or assembling Ikea furniture last Friday sucked the will to live out of me and I am only now just recovering.

Early on, prior to launching Hello 2.0 in Beta, I was fortunate that a fellow British expat, Justin Parfitt, the CEO of Fastlife Speed Dating gave me some of his time.

Justin is quoted in this Feb-10 article outlining the difficulties for people to meet other new people in Toronto

http://www.nowtoronto.com/lifestyle/story.cfm?content=173613

Things have surely changed a little since Feb-10 however I had my reservations in choosing Toronto, a cold, super conservative, puritanical, career focussed city in which to launch a fun and frivolous dating app.

I will never ever attribute Toronto towards the failure or success of Hello 2.0.

What I might do is bitch and moan and kick the wall a lot whilst we are going through the latest issues…

Apparently people become much less reserved in the run up to the xmas season – so fingers crossed on that front.

Lots going on in the background right now – hope to be able to share some real news soon! –
watch this space.

Oh – and nearly forgot – the main two reasons I chose to launch here:

1. To borrow another famous city’s catchphrase “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”
2. I am fortunate to be living in Toronto – the fourth biggest and fastest growing Nth American city – it seemed like too much of an arse-ache to launch anywhere else

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Offline dating – structurally dysfunctional?

Currently the US federal government is shut down because of poor communication and the US democracy’s highly dysfunctional structure

Does the offline dating game perhaps have a similar structural dysfunctionality?:

– Women do not make it easy for a guy to know if they are single, in a relationship, looking to be approached or not
– Men are harshly judged when they make an inappropriate approach
– There seems to be some unwritten convention that says women are not allowed to approach guys – both online and offline
– For girls to wear a physical “I am available for an approach” symbol offline seems to equate to social death and / or desperation

Three rare instances of women making it a little easier for men to know whether they are open to an approach

1. Munich Oktoberfest

http://www.jaunted.com/story/2011/9/19/83612/6490/travel/Six+Tips+for+Women+at+Munich’s+Oktoberfest,+From+the+Ladies+of+Jaunted

From above link “There is a secret code to flirting, recognised by many regular visitors. For women, if you tie the bow of your Dirndl skirt on the left hand side it tells others you are single. On the right hand-side and men will (hopefully) understand that you are not seeking any advances. If given a gingerbread heart you can be assured that you have an admirer”

2. Club Med adult only vacation resorts

http://www.clubmedplanet.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=8911

On a vacation to Club Med in Kemer 6 or so years ago where 90% of the holidaymakers were French, there was a night where you wore pink if you were single and were willing to be approached. I was taken aback, but the French, to their credit, seemed totally unselfconscious in openly advertising their status.

3. MY Single Band aims to help singletons around the world spot one another

The British-Danish collaboration behind MY Single Band recognized the difficulty in meeting other singles and set about creating a single identifier that would appeal to the mass market

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2397857/MY-Single-Band-Would-wear-WRISTBAND-youre-SINGLE.html

“We recognised that as the population of single adults continues to rise across every age group, they need new and innovative ways to connect. Online dating provides one method but cannot measure chemistry and it doesn’t help when you are out and about, which is of course most of the day.”

The predictable abuse from internet trolls started right away – see the comments thread to that article:
– They should write ‘desperate’ on them.
– This will just attract weirdos chasing single women thinking they’ve got a good chance with them.
– She can’t even say she’s seeing someone else either to get rid of them!

Conclusion

Although the three rare examples above are clearly not part of mainstream culture, they clearly indicate positives from better advertising one’s status.

I understand that the “not knowing” may be part of the allure and mystery surrounding a girl and perhaps she devalues herself, in the eyes of others, by removing this mystery

It is interesting that this reticence only applies offline – as online dating does not suffer from female offline status uncertainty – probably hence why online dating has grown so successful.

I have no idea if there is an offline solution, but it is encouraging that some are trying to address this – good luck to MY single band.

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Guys hitting on girls & the morally outraged

During April 2013, Richard Branson’s Virgin America launched inter-seat messaging –  enabling passengers to flirt with one another during some flights

http://thepointsguy.com/2013/04/new-seat-to-seat-ordering-means-more-mid-air-flirting-on-virgin-america/   http://www.ibtimes.com/virgin-americas-seat-seat-delivery-service-follows-trend-social-flying-1218773

Predictably, moral outrage followed over such a creepy service being launched by the “undisputed king of super cheap, smutty but ultimately super effective PR”

I mean is this new service really so terrible?

Especially compared to say real social issues like the epidemic of mental disease, homelessness, growing old alone, societal inequality, dysfunctional democracies etc

I find the whole “moral outrage thing” interesting as:

A)      I lack social confidence to approach strangers and introduce myself………..so any technology assistance in my younger dating years would’ve been great

B)       Whats the big deal anyway? – people can always ignore message or say “thanks, not interested” – but they hopefully get some small secret pleasure from having been found attractive by another human being.

Hello 2.0 is trying to recreate the “70s telephone bar experience” (see last blog post )

A lot of the feedback on “70’s telephone bars”  and “Virgin’s inter seat messaging service” involves highly negative phraseology – most notably  the phrase: “being hit on

–          To “hit” is to hurt or injure someone – this is an awful connotation for the act of self introduction / flirtation

–          I didn’t know my largely unsuccessful dating years caused so much hurt, pain and injury to so many – I hope no-one sues me for causing so much distress.

–           I unreservedly apologize to you all and thank my (now) wife for putting us all out of our misery.

Jeez – lets take a look at some trends in the dating sector – just to put a little context around this subject:

–          # singles is on the rise

–          online dating is mainstream – i.e. introductions with strangers are a fact of life

–          swingers clubs / events are now public information

–          sexual hookup dating is allegedly booming

–          The ”Bang with friends” app is hugely popular

…………..however, a stranger brazenly introducing himself to a girl in public is a jerk, a creep or a loser – I really don’t understand this dis-proportionate reaction.

(Especially when a lot of people find the act of introducing oneself so difficult – shouldn’t the few who do this be admired for overcoming their insecurities?)

I guess the “morally outraged” will say:

–          But she didn’t want to be bothered by that guy

–          Her night out was ruined

–          She will probably need to get PTS therapy as a result of this heinous unwanted encounter – Ok, I admit they won’t say this exactly but this will certainly be implied by their tone of voice 🙂

Just look at this article and some of the follow on comments from the morally outraged

http://www.winggirlmethod.com/how-to-approach-a-woman-why-you-should-man-up-and-say-hi/

WTF! This puritanical, made up hysteria is dis-proportionate and out of control.

Here’s my guess of what most balanced normal people think on this subject:

–          It is tough to say hello to someone new in public

–          Sometimes, social cues are mis-read and / or unwanted approaches are made

–          It should take minimal time / effort to rebuff an unwanted approach

–          None of us meet /speak with enough strangers anyway

–          Its not that big a deal, take a chill pill

The next blog post, inspired by a question posed today on Marni’s twitter account https://twitter.com/winggirlmethod , will attempt to cover the sensitive subject of “how might woman make themselves more approachable?” – this could be a huge mistake!!

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Why did “Telephones on Tables” bars disappear?

As they were the inspiration behind the concept of Hello 2.0, I am curious why the “telephones on tables” bars/restaurants disappeared.

I don’t want to be asked this question and not have an answer (e.g. for Forbes / Internet Gazillionaires monthly etc 🙂 )

When I mention “telephones on tables” bars to anyone – its interesting, but a lot of people instantly know what I am talking about and seem to have a story……..

–          Sue, my 40ish yr old neighbor “ I met a guy at one of these in Toronto once – actually we dated for over a year after that ……..though I don’t know why they disappeared, they were great”

–          Recruitment agent last week “There was one here in Toronto which used balloons and was the ‘in-place’ for a while….”

–           “There was one in Peterborough, Ontario – it was the most happening place in town”

–          “There was one in Niagara Falls – a real draw for tourists and stag parties”

–          Girl in bar “I saw this on Mad Men (Series 6, episode 4, it turns out) recently – it looks like a lot of fun”

–          An ex male colleague, “I went to Caspers in London but no-one called any of the guys at our table ” …….umm, dude……but you were supposed to do the calling…

–          Guy in bar, late twenties: “When I worked in Korea, certain clubs allow patrons at tables to message other tables anonymously”

The only existing and still operational “telephones on tables” establishment, in Canada, if not the world, seems to be the Grizzly House in Banff, a former nightclub turned Fondue restaurant.

http://drink-play-love.com/2012/03/20/a-banff-institution-the-grizzly-house/

Grizzly House has been owned by Peter Steiner since 1967 and I called them today to ask some questions.

Are you the only surviving “telephones on tables” establishment in Nth America?

–         We don’t know – we are certainly the only one we know of.

Why do you think the other “Telephones on Tables” places disappeared?

–          Times change. Probably these were a feature of the time during the late sixties, early seventies, and were associated with an age of sexual liberation and swinging.

Why do you think the owner, Peter Steiner, kept these?

–          We are a fondue restaurant and fondue is a communal and fun way of eating. This “fun dining” atmosphere lends itself to us keeping the phones as an added enjoyable feature for our guests

That’s all for now.

The next blog post will cover Nth American prudishness and the moral outrage expressed over the concept of someone introducing themselves to an attractive stranger in public.

Apologies in advance to any French men who might get very confused by this as a topic. 🙂

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What Women Want…..

Last night (Wed 25 Sep), the Hello 2.0 app was Beta tested at EuroPubClub’s meetup at The Central Bar, Markham St, Toronto http://www.meetup.com/europubclub/events/126660132/ – thanks EuroPubClub for the invite.

Europubclub field test 5

John’s development team at Evermight http://evermight.com/ have largely overcome the technology challenges which became apparent during the field test we had at Williams Landing at the end of July – thanks for your hard work.

Because there were minimal tech issues on Sep 25, we were able, for the first time, to solicit  feedback around the value that the Hello 2.0 app / experience delivers.

The major realization and feedback from last night was that 50% of the target audience seem to “get it / like it” really quickly – the other 50%…..not so much.

From the blog post title, you’ve probably guessed that the other 50% are women.

And it is now super obvious to us why they don’t “get it / like it”  as quickly as guys.

Why is that? …………

Well, we set out to make “Breaking the ice” easier by creating Hello 2.0.

Within the heterosexual domain, it is traditionally the male who is expected to chase and break the ice with the female.

So, it seems that Hello 2.0 addresses an issue which is unfortunately not of major interest to most women.

i.e. they are only indirectly impacted by this problem – and potentially some are unaware that they are impacted by it at all.

Hence our future marketing messages towards this 50% of our target segment needs to be considered very carefully going forwards (this is code for we have no idea how to market this to women yet!)

Sample of female feedback last night during Hello 2.0 testing

–          Can we see a profile or photo to decide whether to answer the call

–          “Oh yeah, I saw something like this in an episode of Mad Men – its cool”.. (Season 6 Episode 4, it turns out)

–          “I don’t want to be called by strangers”

–          “I’d prefer anonymous messaging – that would be great”

–          “I don’t want to deal with rejecting guys when they call”

–          “The app is cool – calling is way more efficient than messaging”. ( I liked her the best 🙂 )

–          “I want men to approach me directly – the app just complicates things”

–          “People don’t call anymore”

–          “It’s rude to pick up call when out with friends”

So basically in terms of a female consensus – its as clear as mud.

What is clear is that we have plenty of work to do to figure out “What Women Want” – and if we can ever make Hello 2.0 relevant to this pretty major segment.

Any bright ideas would be very welcome

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The value of meeting new people

Q: How many new offline connections did you make in the last week or month?

Q: How come we rarely have an extended conversation with someone new when we go for a night out with our single friends?

Q: Have you ever been to a pick-up joint and not been “picked up”?

I always make the excuse that being an expat with a young family prevented me from acquiring a strong real world social network in Canada, but when I think about it, this is probably a lame excuse.

A senior lecturer once told us “You 100 are the cream – the most talented graduates with the brightest futures. But only 50 of you will meet your true potential. The other 50 will fail to adequately build and maintain strong enough networks to optimize your professional and personal lives”

Most people acknowledge that there is massive value in meeting new people in terms of encountering new opinions, perspectives, knowledge, experience, networks and humour.

There is of course also insecurity in walking up to someone new and striking up a conversation, and sometimes this can be perceived as “hitting” on someone. Sometimes that will be true, but frankly who cares?

It is interesting to consider the extent to which our insecurities prevent us from connecting with new people in the real world.

It is interesting also that our perceived cost of potential rejection far outweighs our perceived value of new connections

To conclude  we seem to assign a very low value to making new connections.

Either that or we are all chicken.

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“Dating with friends”

So the last blog post very unscientifically covered the virtuous circle between being happy/relaxed … and dating success.

This blog post follows from the last one and explores whether it is better to date solo or with friends…..

 

There are lots of ways to date solo:- speed dating,  online dating,  Tinder,  GrindR and Bang with Friends.

But dating solo means you forgo the pro’s (and cons) of your friends’ presence when engaged in the dating / meeting new people scene:

Pro’s:

– As per previous blog post,  the more relaxed and having fun with others you are, the more the opposite sex will find you attractive – so go out with friends that you laugh with/at a lot

– friendly critique of your “pick up” performance

– second opinion of that guy or that girl

– someone to pick up the conversation if / when there is an awkward lull

– wingman duties – removing the obstacles to a successful seduction

– Personal safety

Con’s

–  Your friends can frighten off potential suitors or make men too nervous to approach you than if you were alone

– Flexibility – it is much simpler to organize just yourself than a bunch of your friends

 

The main way to “date with friends” used to be the traditional “night out with the boys/girls”.

Two start-ups are trying to expand the “dating with friends” options:

Grouper, established in US, launched in Toronto in late 2012 and positions itself as: “A social club that sets up drinks between 2 groups of 3 friends”

The benefits of this are clear: – Not only do you get a night out catching up with friends, you also get a potential romantic encounter, and crucially, each grouper participant gets double wingman support.

Toronto based Hello 2.0, currently in Beta testing, is a smartphone app reincarnation of the 1990s telephone bar concept where bar-goers were able to anonymously call one another using telephones fixed to each table.

Hello 2.0 aims to provide a fun and frivolous way to break the ice with new people whilst simultaneously enjoying a night out with friends.

The fun partly comes from its capacity for horsing around e.g. calling others on your friends behalf; asking your friend to call “blind” a certain girl’s number etc

Conclusion

To date with or without friends is a personal choice.

The good news is that there is also now a choice to combine going out with friends whilst leveraging “technology enabled dating options” and getting the best of both worlds.

The tech dating industry is evolving quickly so watch this space – it’s going to be fun.

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Dating and fun – a virtuous circle?

1.       Is Dating fun?

It likely depends on the date, the medium, the chemistry, a venue’s ambience plus 100 or more other factors.

For example, the on-line dating medium risks being akin to a science experiment………..what does he do, how tall is he; is he divorced etc .

Although this may pass for fun for some people…….. they probably (know they) need to get out more.

2.       Given the choice between a fun night out with friends and a blind date – which should you choose?

Again – it’s a tough to know – the right answer depends on many factors.

Most of us will probably concede though:

a) there is insufficient fun in our lives.

b) we infrequently connect in a meaningful way with new people.

Because of the latter, the blind date will probably get the vote.

3.       Is there a silver bullet which helps us increase the frequency we might connect with the opposite sex?

I always lacked confidence with girls  until…….well thinking about it, till always – I still lack confidence, and I am now married with two kids!

Looking back I recall three rare spontaneous moments of success (breaking the ice) with girls which I list below:

–          Fancy dress University pub crawl

–          Passing my professional exams

–          Meeting up with my old home town friends before going abroad to work

I believe there might be a silver bullet – and no, its not alcohol.

Simply being out, having fun with good friends made me relaxed and happy. This in turn made breaking the ice very easy with the girls I met those nights.

4.        The silver bullet

My unscientific hyphothesis is that being happy and relaxed makes one much more attractive to members of the opposite sex.

So a focus on having good times with good friends may lead to far more dating opportunities than one might expect

5.       Can technology help?

Although Hook-up apps like Tinder and GrindR can be used in group social settings, users often fly solo when using these.

(Please see next (planned) blog post for a discussion on the pro’s and con’s of going to a dating event with friends vs alone)

Of all the dating apps on the market, only two, Grouper and Hello 2.0 seem to mix together the right ingredients:  friends, bars, fun with just a splash of technology.

6.       Conclusion: 

If you have good friends to hang out with, don’t be too quick to agree to go out on that blind date.

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Hello 2.0 Technology Update & List of compatible devices

Lots of good work done by John and his Evermight team during August – thank you

1. New voice compression SW installed which reduces data bandwidth used by two thirds – largely fixes call choppiness / fade-outs

2. Android native SIP code (think VoIP) replaced by the same third party SIP code used on iOS – call lag is no longer an issue

3. iOS device call ringer now sounds even if phone is in sleep mode – so you don’t miss any calls.

4. Device testing progressing well – see below

Hello 2.0 successful iPhone tests: using OS 6.0 and above
iphone 3gs
iphone 4
iphone 4s
iphone 5

Successful on Android – using Android 4.0 and above as installed on the phone at the time of testing:
Galaxy Nexus
Galaxy Note
Galaxy Note 2
Galaxy S2
Galaxy S3
Galaxy S4
HTC Amaze
HTC One
Nexus 4
Sony Xperia ZL
Sony Xperia Z

Next steps:

1. Await app store clearance of latest iOS App with above fixes enabled

2. Small scale field tests will then be held

3. Other Android phones to be tested for compatibility (we still have an issue with a LG handset ongoing…)

4. Ramp up PR

5. Launch!

Cheers,

Mike

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Does the dating industry exploit the lonely?

When I was 26, I turned down a good management job in the fast food industry – I decided I did not want to contribute to obesity / premature death and instead buggered off travelling for 6 months  to SE Asia…… that’s another story.

Launching a start-up in the dating sector made me think a little. This is perhaps not the most ethical sector out there as mega-bucks can be made through exploiting other people’s loneliness and their fear of growing old alone.

In a nutshell, it is a fact of life that whenever you are insecure / desperate – there always seem to be lots of people out there ready to take advantage of your situation.

This got me thinking about other sectors/industries which “take advantage” of our fears, neuroses and insecurities. I did not realize there were so many of them out there…..

I don’t have answers. But awareness is always a positive first step!

 What are you scared of?

Growing old – cosmetics industry

Solitude – dating industry

Obesity – weight loss industry (diet foods, gyms)

Depression – Mental well being industry, Coaches, Psychiatry

Spiritual void / Going to hell – religions

Burglary – home alarms

Being unstylish – fashion industry

Unemployment – further education sector, student loans

Personal / Property Catastrophes – insurance

Old age poverty – pensions

Senility – brain training

Terrorism – State spying and reduced civil liberty

All of these industries will say they help people through reducing their fears – and focus on the benefits and positives “the peace of mind, the happiness, the security”

I will not argue with that however how successful would the above sectors be if not for our fear of the unspoken downsides if we do not buy their products and services?

I am scared of all of the above plus global warming, inequality, democratic dysfunction etc

What I am most scared of is what over-cautiousness will do to our societies and how easy it is to brainwash us all.

As a small example, we save for pensions to be prudent but may see most of the returns (sometimes all) going to pay the pension provider’s fees rather than going to the saver. Whatever happened to regulators to protect the general public from this parasitic financial/insurance sector?

Too many industry sectors make money from our fears…..

How scared are you?

I am terrified.

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Technology Enabled Dating Options

Draft Press Release #1 – to be used to market future launch event….hopefully!

Why is there so much innovation happening in the tech-dating space right now?

    1. Its tough to meet new people in real life – new channels enabling introductions are  something which single people seem to value highly.
    2. For many reasons, there are far more single people than once existed. The traditional social outlets have been ineffective at meeting their needs.
    3. Smartphone ubiquity enables new dating possibilities at the intersection of the online and offline worlds (e.g. Hello 2.0 and Grouper – see more below)

See below a rough analysis of the tech dating category:

dating options market map

Online Dating

Touted as super effective for busy people who don’t have time to meet new people through conventional social channels

Revenue growth has recently slowed and the effectiveness of the industry’s proprietary matching algorithms has been publicly challenged

Interestingly, users report that online dating uses up enormous amounts of time and emotional energy – directly contradicting the “effective for busy people” target market message from the industry

Some of the players such as Match.com are now holding dating mixer events in the real world as they recognize the value to users of operating in the online / offline intersection “sweet spot”.

$2bn in global revenue in 2012 shows these players are doing a lot of things right – we all know couples who have met online dating…. so respect where respect is due

“Hookup” Smartphone Applications

  1. Bang with friends allows you to tag facebook friends that you are sexually attracted to. Two sided “tags” result in both sides being emailed – it is then up to them to take next steps.
  2. Skout, Plenty of Fish, Tinder etc all use different combinations of profiles, matching algorithms and geo location proximity to help users meet new people
  3. GrindR  – hugely popular and effective geo location based app enabling gay men to hook up. BlendR tries to do the same for the straight community.

Some of the above suffer from a skewed M/F ratio as a result of females being less willing than males to publicly disclose their location / profile

Casual encounters

Craigslist has long had a channel catering to people interested in sex with no strings attached.

A very new smartphone app, Pure, is attempting to do the same using geo location proximity – it asks whether users wish to host or travel.

It currently awaits app store approval – it may be a long wait.

Hello 2.0

Aiming to be the new kid on the block, Hello 2.0 might also be described as a chip off an old block.

The old block being the 1990’s telephone bar concept (a telephone on every table) which allowed bar-goers to call and flirt with other tables’ occupants.

Hello 2.0 builds on this idea, combining a smartphone app and ID stickers to enable bar-goers to anonymously call one another. They aim to create a fun and social dating event where one can meet new people whilst avoiding the pressure of face to face introductions.

Hello 2.0’s launch event takes place at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on xxxxxxxxxx

Other options within the dating space

Grouper.com enables blind dates between groups of 3 males and females in select US cities.  Levying a small fee which includes the first round of drinks at the venue that the date is arranged at, Grouper is also trying to exploit the opportunity where the online and offline worlds meet.

“My single band” is a new service selling physical rubber wristbands which explicitly say “I am single” in the same way that a wedding band implicitly says “I am married”.

Despite all this recent innovation, speed dating remains alive and well. Fastlife runs regular popular speed dating events in Toronto and around the world which can cost up to $80 per head for an evening of quickfire flirtation with the opposite sex.

Summary

There is a great deal of choice, so the guys at Hello 2.0 have produced a quick guide to help you navigate to the right service based on your unique needs.
table of dating options

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Bars: Marketing vs Reality

Typical Bar’s Marketing Reality
Gourmet creations from our executive chef Over-priced pub food – minus the ambience and intimacy of a proper restaurant
Friendly staff Serving staff work for tips so it would be irrational if they were rude
Great DJ night We are otherwise empty and desperate at this time of the week – you will also be unable to hear your friends speak 
Meet new people – very friendly atmosphere People usually go out to bars to catch up with their circle of friends / colleagues – rarely to talk to strangers (i.e. you)
Happy hour featuring great food and drink promotions Just not at the time you ever happen to be there
Great patio Cramped dirty seating and wobbly tables full of smokers – often next to a noisy road
Great new menu The menu is unchanged, we just re-named some dishes and put up the prices
Stylish We make our waitresses dress like hookers
Innovative menu Oddly familiar to menus of other similar venues in the neighbourhood
Wing night Consume salty intensively reared surplus chicken parts so we can sell you more beer
Great drinks selection Be so dazzled by our beverage array that you forget how much these drinks would cost you at the supermarket
Live entertainment We show live sports on TV and there is a guy who comes in and murders Neil Young covers on a Tue night
A gratuity of 15% will automatically be added to parties of 6 or more We really hope you forget this when the credit card machine prompts you to add a gratuity to the total
Cover charge We like to f**k you before you even enter our premises
Photos of last Friday night on our facebook page We pay models to turn up when we do these photo shoots showing everyone “having so much fun” and our bartender making 40 mojitos at a time

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Irony vs Current Online Trends

Subject Online trends Hello 2.0 app /event:
Privacy In wake of NSA / Snowden revelations – the concept of online privacy no longer exists Hopefully NSA is not interested in bar-goers flirting with one another…….
Big Data Your data is captured, crunched and sold to third parties No data captured or sought
Your social profile …defines you, broadcasts who you are ..is intentionally ignored
Geo-location Services Your phone knows where you are and informs 3rd parties Not required, not used
How do you communicate One way – to everyone – using a tiny keyboard Anonymous, two way, using your voice
Where and when do you interact with strangers? All the time, alone, virtually …in a real bar
What influences who I should date or contact? Facebook, dating algorithms, geo location proximity services How attractive someone looks/sounds; what my friends say about them..
Do you pay for services? No, but I do suffer the cost of poorly targeted marketing No marketing involved – self promotion encouraged
Barriers to entry None If event is full, or, if you are not on the list – then you can’t come in
Tags Progressive, Pioneering Retro, Old Skool, Simple

Hello 2.0 is contrarily well positioned against current online trends

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Technology delays

Ok – so the July 31 field test at Williams Landing, although fun, showed we have work to do on the Technology side

The development team and I have been working on this and seeking outside assistance on Android issues as needed.

The next hurdle to overcome, after we have addressed technology issues, will be to better understand the customer/venue experience from using Hello 2.0 and incorporate these learnings into the product and marketing plan

As an aside, there was some intense interest in how Hello 2.0 worked from a group of very attractive waitresses at Williams Landing but although enjoyable – I am unsure how much I can extrapolate from this

I have found this waiting period on the technology front pretty tough – and that’s a bit of an under-statement.

I should be thankful for this coinciding with the school summer break as helping out with our two little ones is giving me a healthy break from the recent start-up intensity.

Even if this start-up fails to overcome the above hurdles, I thought it would improve my mindset if I listed all the new things that have been accomplished and learnt so far:

– In 10 weeks, with no prior tech or hospitality start-up experience, an idea was turned into a real and potentially disruptive application
– Learnt how to use word-press and created my first ever website
– Learnt how to use Prezi to explicitly show what the application does
– Wrote script and helped edit the video introduction of Hello 2.0 – see homepage
– Developed and initiated a social media strategy (never used Twitter or a Facebook page before)
– Identified key influencers in Toronto Tech media community, initiated relationships, been asked to give interviews
– Single handedly, in 6 days – organized, communicated and executed a 40 person soft launch event
– Increased my personal and business network significantly

ok, I feel much better now……. 🙂

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How did I kick this off, and key learnings to date

Thanks again to all the people who have contacted me over the last week to congratulate me on the Hello 2.0 start-up.

It turns out that several people in my network, in full time employment, are also working on their secret big idea in their spare time. Big employers in Toronto beware! They have all asked me how did I manage to kick this off?

Before answering the above, there is some historical context I’d like to share…

The last time I was laid off from work in 2000, I got a big bag of money (thanks Arco), packed my backpack and took my girlfriend off travelling for 6 months to SE Asia and Australia – the opportunity for learning & new experience was just too great to squander by just taking another accounting role at a big company.

Being laid off again in May 2013 with two small kids and a wife, the backpacking option was sadly no longer open to me so I decided to take a different kind of journey this time:

Key factors which helped me kick this off included:
– Not having to quit a well paying job and receiving another big bag of money (thanks Ericsson)
– Recognizing that an opportunity existed – on both the personal and business levels
– Having a cool idea – it seemed cool to me at least
– Timing – we have a 4 month yr old son; working from home gave me flexibility to help out when needed
– Tax – all losses incurred this year will be tax deductible against my employment income; there may also be R&D credits which can be claimed on top of this – so I learnt that doing a start-up in the same year as getting a severance package was tax efficient
– Discovered the power of linked-in which enabled me to connect with the large networks of lots of my contacts (developers, students, marketers, angels, universities, hospitality and dating industry execs)
– Trusted friends and an intelligent wife to bounce ideas and concepts off

To summarise above – I guess if timing and opportunity co-incide, it’s an easy decision to make.

My biggest learnings so far:
– Making product as simple and featureless as possible was critical
– Setting deadlines to oneself and developers makes sure you get to market testing and validation as quickly as possible – fail fast, pivot etc
– Trust your instinct, listen to the inner voices, when you are feeling really vulnerable and uncertain, call up an expert – it’s impossible to do it all yourself
– It’s ok to change the go to market (GTM) strategy every week in the early days as hypotheses are tested and proven right or wrong (so far, we’ve discarded focuses on Frosh week, brand associations and sponsorship from our GTM strategy)
– This is a lots of goodwill out there for new start-ups amongst fellow entrepreneurs and bloggers – be nice and use humour, ask for help and advice – they can only say no. Public gratitude over social media helps too
– Select the right team & quickly give feedback / take action if you make a hiring mistake
– Don’t over analyse. Instead of wasting days scouting out and securing the perfect venue, I saved lots of time last week by just booking the launch event by email at a venue I had been out too for a beer a few months ago – took 20 mins in total!
– Developing VoIP applications for Android is painful due to OS fragmentation
– The founder (me) is an important element of the brand
– Social media is difficult and time consuming to learn at the age of 41 – but there is little cost to trying stuff out and seeing what works and doesn’t work
– PR / dealing with media is tough for newbies like me – but ask around and try to understand basics
– On two items above, recognize your limitations and pay professionals where appropriate

Finally

Toronto experiential marketing agencies (TEMA) really suck, I can’t stress this enough – Hello 2.0 may not be the best idea ever however it’s a novel and simple idea designed to deliver value to customers – TEMA are in the “new ideas business” helping big brands connect with their target customers – WTF guys, return my calls or emails…

Although the above TEMA rant was cathartic, my lack of experience and knowledge to effectively approach and network into these agencies must’ve played a big part in Hello 2.0’s lack of traction on this front – guys, the door is still open!

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Field test # 1 report – Sunday July 28th, 2013

– 12 neighbours, family and tech supporters came round to eat pizza and drink finely chilled beverages at the end of the cul de sac outside our house last night
– Thanks to everyone who came out
– Lots of admiration for my new cooler purchase – the missus is now off my back for buying it
– A couple of minor new bugs in the Hello 2.0 app were uncovered but no show stoppers.
– Android to Android call lag issues remain but are variable based on type of handset, which way wind is blowing and many other unknown variables
– Call quality was good – there was the odd break up and crackle but generally the longer the calls progressed, the better the quality became – perhaps servers were doing more configuration work at the start of calls ….

– Conclusion: the app works pretty well – we are in good shape for Wednesday, fingers crossed

Thanks to John Lai and his Evermight team for good development work

Sorry, slipped my mind…

So I promised to outline some stuff in the first blog post which completely slipped my mind

What stage the Hello 2.0 project is at

Basically we are in good shape – the brief to the developers was to build the thinnest possible tech layer – overlaid on top of a normal social bar experience

I think we have accomplished that – there is no password, email, speakerphone, social media integration, reservation system, profile or messaging functionality – although it was all there at the beginning!! – it is bare bones, but it just about works – in theory at least

We are still struggling with Android to Android latency (voice delay) issues which may require some extra work

The iOS version in the App store is a little out of date – it takes 7 days to get updates approved so the new cleaned up version will be available Tue next week, we hope

The Android version is being bug fixed in real time hence there were some access issues yesterday – apols. The version being released into the Play store today should be pretty sound

The extended team

First, although he is no longer directly involved, I was very fortunate to work with Neil, an 18 yr old Sheridan College student – he did the video on the website, the facebook fan page, logo and lots more – a super capable and highly articulate guy for 18 yrs old – thanks

Evermight is the team of super developers in Toronto who have done all the hard work building the apps – they have done a very solid job so far, thanks – please continue!

Lots of other people have selflessly given up their time to guide me on this new road I am travelling on – you know who you are, many thanks, I hope to pay it back one day!

Lastly, as of today, a potential new “team member” Erwin, a digital marketing consultant is reviewing our digital assets and marketing plan to see how we can launch well, maximize buzz and sustain this. We need super cheap, super effective PR  – All ideas, no matter how crazy, welcomed

Field tests planned

Field test 1 – will be in the sunny cul de sac where we live on Sunday evening

Field test 2 – Just confirmed – wed evening at Williams Landing, Liberty Village – see facebook Hello 2.0 page for details – https://www.facebook.com/events/186206698218533/

Launch event – tbc

How a Hello 2.0 event works

You get a sticker to wear with a 3 random digit ID when you arrive at the venue

You download app and join the virtual event using the 3 digit ID

You are then able to call anyone else using the ID code that they are wearing– and vice versa

He avoids face to face pressure, is able to overcome shyness and build confidence…..

She can screen guys for personality – instead of being overwhelmed by aftershave and pheromones!

Only kidding – think I will end it there, cheers

A lot happens in one day at Hello 2.0

Many thanks for all the nice messages you sent yesterday following the launch of the Hello 2.0 blog

Apologies but it seems as if some devices (Apple is one for sure) cannot read RSS feeds so the link I emailed yesterday may not have worked for everyone

I am learning so much every day, that’s for sure!

News since yesterday

  • Field test 1 is now scheduled at the end of our cul-de-sac at 6.30pm on Sunday : – neighbours, friends and developers are being bribed with free pizza and beer to attend!  (If anyone else wants to come along to central Mississauga – please let me know mike@hello2dot0.com)
  • Social media sites (facebook, linked-in and twitter) are all now updated with details of Hello 2.0 – I still await the “WTF (get back to being an accountant) backlash”
  • The San Fran based head of a global dating empire wants to have a beer with me next week in Toronto!
  • Reminder 1 – Links to apps: iOS http://bit.ly/11Ub99v   & Android: http://bit.ly/14grwxm .
  • Reminder 2 – If anyone wants to test this out: 1) Download app 2) Enter first name 3) Select Biermarkt 4) Enter random 3 digit seat ID and password “a” 5) You should be able to call me at seat 12D!
  • Took my first call from the Southern Hemisphere using Hello 2.0 – thanks Deborah
  • After 20ish cold calls, a Toronto experiential marketing agency has agreed to an introductory meeting with us on Thursday
  • Planning for field test 2 has started – in a real venue!
  • Someone randomly hacked into my paypal account last night . hmmm

Always good to end on a positive note!

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Welcome to the Hello 2.0 blog

(Please see bottom of this post if you wish to subscribe to the Hello 2.0 blog)

Welcome to this blog – where I will share my journey as a technology novice launching Hello 2.0 – a mobile app in the dating / bar sector.

Please forward this on to anyone in Toronto who might be interested in hearing about a new dating app /event – field tests start shortly…

What is Hello 2.0?

It is meant to be fun and frivolous……….

The Hello 2.0 mobile app enables you to anonymously call someone you find attractive in a bar – so avoiding the pressure of a face to face introduction.

A video overview can be found at  www.hello2dot0.com   (thanks Neal for the good work, despite my mumbling)

Background

Faced with leaving Ericsson at the end of May-13, I wanted to exercise my brain by doing something new………the thought of doing an MBA or re-training did not really knock my socks off…..

I then stumbled across an old scrappy “Business Ideas” notebook and saw “Casper’s telephone bar” scrawled on one of the pages………..

Casper’s

Long since closed, Casper’s was a London bar…… with big black telephones on every table.

The telephones allowed guys to call girls on the other tables (and vice versa) which created a lot of fun and excitement.

I asked my ex IT/Telecom colleagues at Ericsson if it was possible to squeeze the Casper’s experience into a smartphone app………they confirmed it could be done!

Following some research on potential competitors and finding that no-one was offering the “Casper’s service” in an app (perhaps because no-one needs it – tbc!!), I thought what the hell – lets build this!

Why do this?

I started to wonder if anyone actually went out to bars to meet new people anymore……….especially now that online dating has become so popular.

Hello 2.0 is meant to increase off-line social networking and help bars regain relevance within the dating sector.

Best case – I get to build something useful that adds value to people’s lives & learn from doing this – maybe even recovering my investment of time and money

Worst case – I get to learn a huge amount and meet lots of new people – even if Hello 2.0 is a total flop

Next steps

In the next blog post, I will outline what stage the Hello 2.0 project is at, the extended team, field tests planned, and explain how a Hello 2.0 event works.

I will aim to update this blog regularly – at the very least once a week but much more often during the first few weeks

Thanks for reading and hope you decide to accompany me on this journey into the unknown!

How to subscribe to this blog

Click the RSS feeds button either on the menu-bar above (looks like a Wi-Fi icon) or click on the link at the top LH side of this page

Comments welcomed on the blog

Cheers, Mike    mike@hello2dot0.com

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