Interview with Matt Hagger, Co-Founder at Doppels

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There really are very few days that we wait for with an increasing excitement as it draws closer and birthdays certainly are the days that we all wait for. Birthdays are pure joy no matter whether you are celebrating still in the single digit of your age or you’ve just hit 50. It’s really amazing to realize that there might be a number of people who share the same birthday date as yours and an app that lets you find your birthday twin is an app called Doppels. Doppels are people who share the same birthday and the app is a social network for the same.

Doppels is the world’s first birthday discovery app. We connect people to their Doppels – those who share the same birthday – and others celebrating Doppels Day – a new holiday for people celebrating their birthday today.  Doppels allow you to discover and greet people through customized wishes and gifts and then connect via our chat platform.  Doppels is working on astrological machine learning algorithms to create an unrivalled social discovery experience around birthdays.

Here is an interview with the founder of the company, Matt Haggerunspecified

What motivated you to start the company and what is it all about?

I was motivated to work on Doppels because birthdays have not been opened up or made public and I saw massive opportunity to bring people together around this common connection.  Birthdays can be celebrated on a much larger, grander and more connected scale between our community and I saw an opportunity to allow deeper connections to be built between people, through creating intelligent discovery algorithms.

I see a great and untapped potential in the localized birthday gifting space and felt that there was an opportunity to build a platform for the Millennials to express themselves on their birthday by projecting intentions to our community, in the same way that Instagram has opened and connected the world using photos, compared to the old age idea that you would just snap a photo to remember and reflect back on it.

The world has changed and the way we can use birthdays to connect and celebrate, can change too, through software.

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Can you tell us a bit about your partners who are part of your core team?

I am the Co-Founder and the CEO of the company. I have a Co-Founder, CTO, an Operations lead, iPhone and Android developers, reporting to a product manager and a UI/X designer, along with a community manager and growth hacker.

What is the current Team Size?

We are a team of 11 working out of our LA base and slowly migrating from London, where we began.

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How did you hire your initial team?

I founded an idea’s lab called E-Man over a decade ago. We’ve made numerous investments and assisted founders to build and execute MVP’s that can go on to become established and successful revenue generating companies.

We have numerous successes over the years.

Doppels migrated successfully from E-Man’s product accelerator in October, last year.

Our hiring has come from a range of sources. E-Man generates a significant talent pool and I have a good network of founders and that introduces me to talent frequently. Beyond that, angelist, linked in and using my network of trusted talent acquirers helps me greatly.

Which recruiting channels work best for you, Referrals/Job Boards/ Staffing Agencies ?

I have hired over 150 people in my life and I find the best form of talent comes from referrals within my network. We are constantly on the look-out for talent that can help us grow, and it is very difficult to find the right mix for any team.

What are the key factors that you look for in a potential candidate?

In every candidate the key factor is passion, energy, curiosity and quiet confidence but without arrogance. Building a team means building a culture. Every successful company has an energy alignment and the new hires must be able to join our Jedi force and begin collaborating and working together with this vision. I try to ensure that every member of my team fulfils his/her individual potential and unearths the unique gift that he/she possesses. I prefer square pegs in square holes.

According to you how much is the competition in your vertical? How big is the industry? Who all are your competitors and what are your views on them?

The industry for rewards, gifting and discovery around birthdays has a global potential across all demographics. We are keen to focus on our core market which we have identified, and solve a problem for this customer first.

What are your marketing strategies? Do you take help of Social platforms to promote ? Which channels have been very effective? Which marketing channels have been super flops?

If leveraged correctly all social platforms are highly effective.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, Youtube and Medium, all provide opportunities for customer acquisition and are integral to our roadmap.

But again with all of these platforms good content strategy and building influence is the key to engagement and conversions.

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What has been your experience with paid marketing channels?

Paid marketing channels are difficult for any early stage company as the more you invest the better the result, but the retention is largely based on proving your product market fit in advance. There are very few startups that can spend $100k across a 5 day campaign to gain top 10 app store visibility in a bid to gain retention through organic downloads and without proving stickiness, it’s a waste of money to attempt to gain organics this way. Hustle is better at the start!

Try to get featured, optimize your app store page and hustle for good quality press.

Can you elaborate on the Challenges in promoting your website/ App?

You have to really get a firm grip on who your customer is and focus on building the best possible experience and keep them coming back. Only then with firm solid metrics can you look to scale. Promoting an application without good data is a waste of time and resources.

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What is the current traction? Can you share some numbers on Usage and Revenue?

I do not want to give exact user data except to say that within 1 week of launching Doppels, the company gained 20,000 unique installs in the USA and ranked in the top 30 within the category of social networking in the USA, even above major companies such as match.com. We are extraordinarily excited about the future!

Based on your experience would have any advice to new Entrepreneur / Startups?

Be prepared to listen, accept feedback and iterate. Be flexible and understand that the journey is long. Be prepared to boot-strap hustle and go to the ends of the earth to achieve your dream. You’ll need to make huge personal sacrifices in relationships and income at the beginning and if you are not prepared to live this lifestyle then do not embark upon this journey.

You need patience, humility and you’ll need endless willpower to withstand what’s ahead.  Be thick skinned, accept criticism and realise that people who cannot comprehend 1% of your struggle with throw stones at you and tell you why your product is flawed or your business will not work.

But above all, enjoy the adventure! It’s your life and your choice.

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