Mitch Kahan – Co-founder of InviteUp

Find business partners with different strengths than you.

Following graduation from the University of Southern California in 2008, Mitch Kahan dove into entrepreneurial ventures through a number of real estate projects. These include the reinvigoration of downtown Los Angeles, through his membership with Oracle Consulting LLC, and several hospitality and retail-related projects. As a young successful male in Los Angeles, Mitch became disillusioned with the available mobile dating platforms. With his background in restaurant investments, from Santa Monica’s Brick + Mortar to West Hollywood’s Open Air Kitchen + Bar, Mitch recognized the importance of the venue in planning a date. Based on his experiences, he and his brother Avi Kahan developed an event-centric dating app called InviteUp, which launched in beta for Los Angeles in May of 2015.

Where did the idea for InviteUp come from?

I was frustrated with the LA dating scene. A few years out of college and surrounded by a core group of long-time friends, it was hard for me to meet new women. I tried several mobile apps including Jdate, Tinder, Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel and Grouper. I quickly learned that I had to message dozens of women to get a meaningful response. Meeting in person was even harder. I got impatient with all the back and forth. I also saw that my female friends were interested in going to specific places, like new, trendy restaurants. I figured women would be more interested in meeting me if I took them out where they wanted to go. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could say “Nobu, 8 pm Thursday night?” and get a date?

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As a serial entrepreneur, I deal with multiple projects every day. I spend a lot of time communicating with managers, business partners, contractors and vendors to make sure everything is running smoothly. I know when something is my forte and when I must defer to others who are better than me in certain areas. For example, I rely heavily on the skills of my head employees to handle logistics. Because they care about the businesses and try hard to make our businesses succeed, my project managers actually make me more productive.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’m the idea guy and facilitator in most of my partnerships. I dedicate a lot of time and energy into getting others excited about the potential of a new business. I also find the perfect people for each job. With a dream team, excited about the end result, the ideas become reality. .

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The general acceptance of dating apps in our culture make it easier and more fun to meet new people.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Jumping between different projects and multitasking. I’m most productive when I’m juggling multiple projects, although I know it drives some of my partners crazy.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

The worst job I had was working at Coffee Bean as a teenager. I had to wake up at 4 a.m. and bike to work five days a week to open the store. I started at the bottom before becoming assistant manager and eventually manager. That job honed my people skills and gave me a real appreciation for employees in the service industry. All those lattés and ice-blended drinks motivated me to work my way towards owning my own businesses.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would try to develop a more basic app with no learning curve. I’ve learned that people want the most concise and clear path to success.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Find business partners with different strengths than you.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

For any retail- and restaurant-business, it all comes down to service with a smile. In a digital age where people shop, socialize and get most of their information online, in-person experiences are more impactful than ever. I want all my customers to have a great experience. It’s trite but true – customer service is key.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

With every great success comes failure along the away. I had a failed restaurant venture in Los Angeles that was definitely a learning experience. My partners and I bit off more than we could chew. We expanded our brand too quickly, trying to operate a high-end restaurant instead of the causal bar/restaurants that had been successful for us in the past. I learned to be more cautious and to gain more knowledge about an industry before jumping in headfirst.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A restaurant for dogs in LA. LA people love their dogs more than kids. They would eat it up!

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I actually love what I do. I think that most people work as a means to an end, but I thoroughly enjoy the process and watching as my businesses develop and grow.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

One of my favorite apps that I recommend everyone use is Zite. It pulls articles from all over the web, allowing you to customize and tailor everything to your liking. The app learns your preferences and begins sending you the most relevant content. For anyone who wants to stay connected but has a busy schedule, this app is a must have.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I would strongly recommend Think Like a Freak by Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Thinking outside the box is critical for a startup. There’s tons of competition in every industry and success generally come from separating yourself from the pack. Levitt and Dubner tackle problem solving in fascinating, unique ways.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

• MiKe “Mish” Shedlock


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