Tell us about yourself?
Colin Hodge is a startup founder and global growth expert who led companies and growth teams covering over 80m users.
As Chief Growth Officer at 17 Live, the top live-streaming video company, Colin led the data-driven initiatives in growth, global expansion, and marketing, then launched the platform in the United States as the first US CEO.
Prior to 17 Live, Colin joined Paktor, the leading dating group in Southeast Asia, through the acquisition of DOWN, the dating app he co-founded and organically grew to 8m+ users.
Colin holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Cornell University and serves as a keynote and panel speaker for conferences around the world.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
That getting the initial idea right is so important.
It’s almost always that the original idea transforms into something that fits the market better, absorbing other insights & ideas.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
Perseverance and scrappyness! It’s taught me to be a problem solver, where being scrappy is important, and to persevere through the tough times.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Be bold and ambitious: big visions & belief that anyone motivated can make it happen!
We often see success stories and have trouble seeing ourselves achieving the same level of success.
It took me too long to realize that those people often started with the same self-doubt.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
I fear that I still take too much of my personal identity from my work, to be honest, but I’ve learned to give myself personal time and crucial indulgences to keep sane.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Rewind to late 2012, before Tinder and other dating apps became ubiquitous.
Online dating was still super stigmatized, and all of the big players pretended that sex wasn’t a crucial part of what people were seeking.
We recognized the power of upfront honesty, allowing people to express what they’re really looking for in their dating app, and now letting them display their full selves, in terms of sex-positivity and otherwise!
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
Our dating app is open and honest.
We are sex positive and we encourage our users to date honestly by providing the choice (to date or hookup).
We’ve all been in that position where we’re not sure if the other person is just looking for a one night stand or something serious – we aim to clarify that for our users, causing a self-selection bias so most users on DOWN are upfront about their intentions & more sex positive!
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
We recently saw that there are over 15,000 apps that mention “dating” in their app store name!
It’s a super crowded market, but not strictly winner-take-all, so we focus on serving the needs of progressive users seeking hookups or dating.
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?
We likely never would’ve become a successful business without our beginnings in CA, through the serendipity of an accelerator that allowed the seed of an idea to morph into the viral hit Bang With Friends.
There’s something special that happens when bright and ambitious minds gather in one area.
What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?
We are a remote-first team, with staff across the world, including in Taiwan. Operating in CA was difficult from a cost standpoint.
We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?
We’ve built our team mostly internationally, to be able to afford staffing when the tech giant duopoly on the app stores are driving up costs to be successful on their platforms.
It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?
We found it super competitive but learned to ignore the distractions for the most part, since the constant news of how much competitors raised in funding or new moves they were making became noise when we wanted to focus on improving our app.
Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?
We’ve built up a product team in Taiwan, due to the affordable salaries and comfortable environment.
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
We aim to continue growing the sex-positive dating space, and expand to other social products that deliver refreshingly honest user experiences.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
Read about us more at https://www.downapp.com/press or listen to an interview with our Founder, Colin Hodge