Exclusive Interview: So Syncd Founders Discuss the Challenges and Wins Surrounding Raising Capital!

So Syncd is one of the most promising startup dating apps in the industry at the moment. Founders Jessica and Louella Alderson wanted to create a service that focused on personality and strong connections, rather than superficial decisions based solely on physical attraction.

The algorithm matches singles using their individual Myers-Briggs personality type and new sign ups take a short questionnaire to find out which personality category best represents them.

So Syncd has gained strong early traction and has already helped to create over 1,000 couples. A $1 million funding round was announced in April, which is helping the app’s continued development and its US expansion.

In association with Women In Dating, we caught up with Jessica and Louella to talk more about their journey and the challenges they faced while raising capital.

As female founders and sisters, at what point did you decide you wanted to partner on co-founding a new dating app; especially one focusing on the 16 personality types?

Jessica Alderson (JA): The idea for So Syncd was sparked by my break-up with a long-term partner. I started looking into personality type compatibility to try to understand what went wrong. The break-up coincided with me leaving my job at an investment bank and I ended up taking a year out to travel. I spent a lot of that year learning about personality type compatibility and it was so clear that some personality type combinations work better in relationships than others.

Louella Alderson (LA): After Jess got back from travelling, we were having drinks in Soho and I was explaining to her that my friends and colleagues were going on these terrible dates with people they’d met on dating apps. Jess told me everything about what she’d learned over the past year and, I have to say, I was sceptical at first. But then we applied the matching concept to people we knew and I was shocked at how accurate it was. In fact, it turned out that I was in a long-term relationship with my perfect personality match. The next morning, Jess came round to my flat and we started building So Syncd, our dating app that matches compatible personality types.

Tell us a bit about So Syncd, how it works and what makes it unique to other dating apps? 

LA: So Syncd is based on what really matters: personality compatibility. It made no sense to us that dating apps were based largely on looks when personality compatibility is essential for a healthy, fulfilling relationship.  When you sign up, you take our free, five-minute personality test to discover your personality type and then we let you know the chance that you’ll form a strong connection with each potential match. We have a super high success rate – we’ve had over 1,000 couples find relationships through our app already, including a number of marriages.

In developing your app, what considerations did you take into account when building the integration? Did you find that you are considering the onboarding process led by a female-centric approach? 

LA: Absolutely. As two women, we know at first-hand how important safety is when it comes to dating. We have a number of systems that can detect unusual behaviour and we have a Community Manager who manually checks the profile of each person who signs up to the app. She continually monitors the platform. 

A recent report by Harvard Business Review cited that in 2020, 2.3% of venture capital will be invested in female-led companies. What challenges did you overcome to be successful at your first $1 million seed round?

JA: The stats around funding for all-female-led teams are shocking. The funding landscape isn’t even close to being fair. In fact, female-led businesses make twice as much revenue per dollar invested compared to those founded by men. As a female founder, there is a much higher chance that investors underestimate you and we certainly faced that challenge when raising our recent funding round. 

LA: There is another Harvard Business Review article showing that male and female entrepreneurs get asked different questions. Essentially, the default is for investors to assume that male entrepreneurs will succeed and female entrepreneurs will fail. Of course, not all investors have such extreme biases and we are lucky to have incredible investors who have invested in us the basis of results and potential rather than more superficial factors. In addition, it’s generally harder to secure meetings as a female founder. The vast majority of investors are male and underestimated founders are often not part of the “right” networks. 

Throughout the fundraising process, what were the three key learnings that helped with the overall success of reaching your goal?

JA: Warm introductions are massively important. It shouldn’t be that way but it is. At first, I was reaching out cold to investors. I quickly realised that it wasn’t an effective strategy so I shifted my focus to building my network which enabled us to secure many more meetings.

LA: Fundraising is a full-time job. The sooner you realise that, the better you can plan effectively for it. I think that it really helps to have a co-founder, or multiple co-founders, that you can trust when fundraising. Jess took the lead on raising our funding round and I ran the day-to-day operations of the business. It was a lot for both of us to manage but that’s the reality of raising money. 

JA: Finding investors who are aligned with your vision makes all the difference. We met with a couple of investors early on who wanted to take the company in a completely different direction to where we wanted to take it. Not long after, we met an investor, who ended up leading our recent round, who was much better aligned with our plans.  The conversations were much smoother and it was clear from the first meeting that we were on the same wavelength.

As females, do you think there is a different approach to raising capital? 

JA: As a female founder, you need to be more prepared. Knowing your numbers is key for a successful fundraise full stop but it’s even more important for female founders.

Also, female founders have to deal with a different mix of questions, more prevention-oriented questions, so it’s good to practice turning those around. Someone asked me recently if I considered bringing our male CTO into our investor meetings. I said absolutely not for that reason alone – if an investor doesn’t trust Lou and me, we wouldn’t want to partner with them.

As women leaders in the dating industry, how do you believe you can make an impact compared to other dating brands?

LA: I think we are more focused on inclusivity and building a kinder online dating environment than a lot of other dating brands. Dating is a very personal experience and women have the added complication of having to constantly be thinking about safety. We are women, we’ve been in their shoes and I think we come at it from a more empathetic angle. Our brand is welcoming and we take great care in making sure our community feel heard and respected. 

You recently announced that you reached 100,000 users! Congratulations on this amazing milestone. Tell us more about your strategic vision and how you planned to achieve this goal and plans to increase the number of users.

LA: Thank you! It was an exciting milestone for us as a company. We aim to reach 1 million users by the end of next year. A lot of our growth has been organic because we’ve had a huge number of success stories and we have an incredible, unique community. We always take time to connect with our users and we’ll continue to do so. 

JA: We are currently working on developing a feature that will enable our users to meet friends as well as dates through our app. Our goal is to become the ‘go to’ platform for finding meaningful connections of all kinds. 

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