Both Julie Griggs and Danielle Dietzek were medical professionals when they decided to develop a dating app with a difference, and judging by their users response, it was about time!
What’s your story?
Julie Griggs (Co-Founder): To be honest, my background is actually in public health. I’m a Physician Assistant-turned-entrepreneur. This is actually my first startup venture.
Danielle Dietzek (Co-Founder): Same here, before Fourplay I was working part-time as primary care Nurse Practitioner and an RN on a mother-baby unit.
JG: In truth, it was never our intention to start a business, however, after testing our idea using a competitor’s app, we realized we might be on to something and decided to give it a shot.
DD: The response we received was overwhelmingly positive. People actually asked us to make this app!
What excites you most about your industry?
DD: What excites me about our industry is that it’s now matured to a point where it’s ready for us. Had we tried this 10 years ago, who knows if it would have been as well-received given the stigmas of online dating that existed in the past.
JG: Correct. Obviously, online dating is nothing new, but it’s also something that isn’t going out of style either. As a result, we have gained sort of a second-mover advantage, meaning we have plenty of history to reflect on before charting our course for the future.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
JG: I’m a pretty competitive person by nature, and not just outwardly, but with myself as well. I was an undersized athlete growing up, so early on I drilled it into my head that you might be bigger, faster, and stronger than me, but I won’t be outworked.
DD: For me, being able to help people is incredibly important. So when I get to see and hear from our users how the hard work I am doing is affecting their lives in a positive way, not only is it really gratifying, but motivating as well.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
DD: Listening. Our users have been an invaluable resource in helping us identify new features that would make the overall user experience even more enjoyable and also accelerate the integration of new features that we were on the fence about.
JG: It’s true, and picking their brains has really proven a bunch of times to be a real time and money saver by steering us away from features that they did not find to be crucial to the app and its experience.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
JG: Burn through brain cells before burning through capital. You’d be surprised at how many things you can get done without spending a penny simply by getting creative with your ideas.
DD: Absolutely, and remember, once you take someone else’s money, now you’re officially working with them. So try to keep your equity holder circle as small as possible for as long as you can.
Who inspires you?
DD: It may sound corny, but I think we both draw inspiration from each other. I know there have been times when I’ve been “out of gas,” and then I’ve looked at Julie plugging away and been like “where do you get this energy from??” If she’s giving it her all, I know I need to as well.
JG: Agreed. I couldn’t do this without you either. Aside from each other, the successes of other female entrepreneurs like Whitney Wolfe, who founded Bumble, are incredibly inspiring. I mean, she just had her company go public!
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
JG: I actually just read a recent study that said 41% of social media users in the US have zero interest in branded social media content, and over a third of them consider what brands publish on social media to be pretty much clickbait.
DD: Yeah, that’s really bad and highlights the need to have a clear intention for whatever it is you’re putting out there, whether it’s to generate interaction, or share information, or something else. The importance of your brand’s authenticity cannot be overstated.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
JG: I think maybe not being seduced by the desire to get the product absolutely perfect before focusing on user acquisition is something I’d want to do over.
DD: I agree with that too. We spent a lot of money perfecting certain aspects of the app that in the end, we didn’t even implement – at least not yet. Looking back now, acquiring users really should have been more of our focus sooner.
JG: But the good thing is it’s never too late, so that’s what we’re doing now.
How do you unwind?
DD: I’m a huge dog lover, so I’m constantly taking trips back to my parents to load up on lots of cuddles with theirs. Of course, a good glass of wine never hurts either!
JG: I love taking runs around Central Park and just clearing my head. I’m also a big reader so great recommendations are always welcome.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
JG: As we’ve progressed we’ve learned the great responsibility that goes along with owning a dating app, namely in the ability to make it more inclusive with respect to gender, racial bias, body sizes, and more.
DD: Absolutely, we use social media to give Fourplay a real, human voice that singles everywhere can relate to as we work to actively change the online dating landscape to become a more authentic and inclusive community.
Everyone in business should read this book:
DD: The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki. I’m sure a lot of people say that, and for good reason. It really is a great guide for starting pretty much anything, not just a business. I found it really invaluable as a first-time entrepreneur.
JG: I’m a huge Malcom Gladwell fan and Outliers is definitely one of my favorites – especially when I feel like things aren’t happening fast enough with the business and I need to remind myself that 10,000 hours is the magic number for greatness!
Shameless plug for your business:
JG: Fourplay is a social app where users team up with a friend, create a shared dating profile, and then match, group chat, and double date with other pairs of singles.
DD: Our mission is to create a more fun, more social, and safer community for singles and their single friends.
How can people connect with you?
JG: In addition to reaching out to us through our social media accounts, we offer a rarity in the startup world – the ability to get us on the phone. Our number is 917.426.8003.
DD: You can also always send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.