Name: Colin Hodge
Position & Company: Co-founder & CEO, Bang With Friends
Period of time in the role: Since launch (Jan 23, 2013)
Twitter ID: @colinkirkhodge
Can you describe your role and what you do in one sentence?
It’s my job to guide this party boat through sometimes treacherous waters to the promised land – many millions of happy users finding success across the world – with roles ranging from recruiter, janitor, motivator, product manager, programmer, and whatever else needs done.
What is your personal style in business in three words?
Work & Play Hard.
How did you get into the online dating industry?
A combination of frustration, reflection, and observation. I started a mobile apps studio after leaving Microsoft but wanted something new. I had a good amount of personal experience with online dating and my frustrations were echoed by many friends and later in my market research.
I dove in and spent 1.5 years doing customer interviews, customer development, and iterating on product. It just made sense to help people use the power of their social networks to date, so I launched Suave.ly (later renamed HeardAboutYou) and worked on it for over a year. During my time at Boost VC (an incubator), I met my co-founders and we created BWF with the lessons I learned at HeardAboutYou.
What are you most proud of in your role?
I’m proud of our company’s ability to face many huge obstacles in our short existence, yet power through them and come out stronger. We cut through the BS and have captured the younger generation of users. Recently, with our work on the next version, I’m proud of the team we’re building.
What are the biggest challenges the industry faces?
First, completely removing the stigma associated with online dating (lots of progress is being made but there’s much more to do). Second, making it safe and natural to use while maintaining comfortable privacy. Third, removing the ceiling so we can be a high revenue growth industry on the scale of Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.
Creating an experience that feels natural and fits easily into all of our everyday lives. We don’t believe our product needs to be boxed into just “online dating” in the future. We’re making it mainstream to discover mutual interest and actually meet that person offline. It’s a huge opportunity to become a crucial & ubiquitous utility for twenty-somethings (and future generations) to get meaningful offline success.
What do you love most about the online dating industry?
We’re working on solving a real human need with many complex and interesting social dynamics.
Which service or company do you admire in the online dating industry?
I admire a lot of OKCupid’s data-crunching work and found their old blog very interesting! There are also a lot of other startups doing certain things well, but no one has nailed it yet.
What sets your company apart from others in the industry?
We’re simple, honest, and unabashed. We want people to state their intentions with each other so there’s less dishonesty with online dating and you know what to expect. Our product is a reflection of who we are – from the humor to paying proper respect to the crucial role of sex in relationships. We are focused on making real connections happen offline.
What does the rest of 2013 hold for your company?
We are almost ready to show off our next version, which is a big upgrade!