Michael Parikh and Andrew Flachner met at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Michael, a Bay Area native, was raised on a steady stream of technology, and has worked in various IT positions throughout his life. Andrew was raised in Palos Verdes, California and had the entrepreneurial spirit since a young age, most recently working with a friend on a chain of healthy vending machines spanning from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay Area. They both graduated from college in 2010 and entered Corporate America. Not too long after, they decided to leave their jobs to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
Since launching earlier in August, DuoDater has acquired thousands of users in many markets. Lately, the company has been ramping up for international expansion. DuoDater is currently bootstrapped but plans are in place to raise capital in the near future.
What are you working on right now?
We’re working on DuoDater, a site that makes online dating social through Double Dates. Users can sign up, invite a friend, form a Duo, then find other doubles in their area. This takes a lot of the pressure off a normal online date, while also making it less awkward and much safer. And frankly, life is more fun with a friend by your side.
Where did the idea for DuoDater come from?
DuoDater cofounder Michael Parikh came up with the idea while waiting for his online date to arrive at dinner. He was texting his friend Tim, who was also single and on online dating sites as well. It occurred to him how silly it was that, while they were both on these sites trying to find someone to connect to, they were so isolated from each other. Why couldn’t they instead work together to go find and go out on online dates?
What does your typical day look like?
Busy, in a good way. Michael gets up and immediately continues development, fixing bugs and working on new features for the site. Andrew deals with the expansion of the business, along with our customer development and marketing strategies. We try to work together as much as we can, so we always have a sounding board to bounce ideas off of.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Whiteboards! They are key to how we work together to build DuoDater. We spend hours drawing & discussing and testing out our ideas. Then we bring our ideas to close friends or some of our key customers and get their feedback on our ideas. We only build once we’ve got a good understanding of what our customers actually want.
3 trends that excite you?
Mobile Transactions, such as Google Wallet, is a big one, as we really hate how bulky our wallets have become. We also love the ease of independent publishing (i.e. Xbox Live Indie Games) and self-starter groups (i.e. Kickstarter, Fusze.com), that make building an idea or business incredibly easy.
What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Michael’s worked in IT for most of this life and, in general, has hated any support role he’s been in. Luckily it taught him about patience and understanding, especially when working with the technologically challenged. Andrew prefers self employment over the daily grind in a 9 to 5. Unless there’s a big incentive, trading time for money is too linear for him.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
At one point, we limited the signup process to only feature Facebook Sign Ups. If we could, we’d go back and remove those two weeks where we tested those out, as it really impeded conversion rates. As amazing as connecting with Facebook with a site can be, many people still are incredibly wary of it because of all the privacy concerns surrounding Facebook.
What is the one thing you do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?
If you spend hours on the computer a day, get a sit/stand desk. Your body (especially your back) will thank you.
Tell us a secret…
DuoDater is going international. Stay tuned for details.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
On the topic of Standing Desks, someone needs to come out with some cheap Sit/Standing Desks. While you can build your own for cheap, they’ll never reach a mass market without someone coming out with a lower cost version.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. It will make you rethink what you know about business and apply it to your startup.
If you weren’t working on DuoDater, what would you be doing?
Michael would be working his way into his other passion, the video game industry. He spent some brief time in marketing for a small LA based Publisher before starting DuoDater. Andrew would find another idea with untapped potential, find the right team, and build it.
Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.
We had fun seeing all of the “Siri” jokes on Twitter: “If Siri starts calling me Dave I’m crushing it with my boot heel.”
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Will Wright, creator of Sim City and the Sims
What is the best advice for an entrepreneur who’s looking to quit their job and build a company?
As Steve Jobs said in his Commencement Speech to Stanford, “Life is too short to live someone else’s life, someone else’s dreams and desires.” While it depends on age, financial commitments, and a multitude of other variables, pursuing your passion should be an easy choice if you find yourself staring at the clock all day in your cube, wishing it was time to go home.
What’s your favorite travel destination?
Michael and Andrew would both like to travel to India in the next few months. The culture is fascinating and historic, and in general it’s less predictable than some of the more popular vacation destinations.
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