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The other side of that happened too, where Emma and I thought Gimlet would pull apart the situation, and instead, they flew right by it. That happened just two months before recording started too. Also, the cross-country love trip campaign that we ran was another thing. That got quite a bit of press, but Gimlet thought it was already pretty well known, and decided to step over it. Most podcasts are created, and never see the amount of attention that Startup Podcast receives, let alone any significant traction in general.
Before Dating Ring, Lauren launched a babysitting and nanny service called Smartsitting. We had some money saved, but more importantly, we recognized that even though launching a startup is sexy, most people think it instantly beats having a job with a financial safety net. You need a great brand, overall, for success. Email marketing is still important for us, and many other companies. Emails are less ignored than most social posts, and targeted emails to specific segments are highly effective for us too.
Stich Fix has stylists that personalize and select clothing and fashion accessories for customers, and sends the items for home try-on. Trunk Club is another example, which, similar to Stich Fix, matches expert stylists with customers to develop their wardrobe.
Successful entrepreneurs tend to be very warm and open, and find ways to maintain a healthy balance of personal happiness and work life. Except that never really went anywhere at all, before or after they said it. I acknowledge that some of these points are valid.go
But to me, story telling is more important and I enjoyed the season. Business issues that were raised generally resonated. If this were the Iran nuclear negotiations, getting the details right would be more critical. But as you say, this doesn't claim to be journalism. It doesn't have to be the Iran nuclear negotiations!
Female Founder Stories: Lauren Kay, Founder of Dating Ring (YC W14)
I think the most apt comparison is Serial: That podcast was put to an intense degree of scrutiny and it came back virtually bulletproof. Miami, and maybe you'd be right -- it's not that one is better than the other, it's that they're not even remotely similar. I do agree that there was much to enjoy this season! I learned a lot about Y Combinator, the difficulties of being a woman trying to raise funds, and the struggles of running an online dating business, and I did find all that very informative! Agree with DashSnowden, if the goal of the podcast was to be entertaining, I think it was successful.
I enjoyed listening to every single episode. Yes, maybe Startup didn't plan on the Dating Ring to "fail", but it's good to see what the reality is.
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Most startup end up failing and it's difficult. I may be naive but I don't think they are trying to build the show in a way that would entice future startups to participate. People heard them crying, having a breakdowns, realizing that they're failing. This doesn't seem very appealing to me! It could be something as normal as "our company is in trouble and we aren't the kind of people who can blow smoke up people's asses about how awesome we're doing.
Lauren Kay of Dating Ring Discusses Her Experience of Startup Podcast Featuring Her Company
Unrelenting positivity can be delusional or it can be what gets you through. And if you don't believe in yourself and your company from the tips of your toenails on up, it's going to be extraodinarily hard to keep the PR machine going. That was my first thought prior to hearing the finale -- I actually wondered if the StartUp finale would end with the Dating Ring closing its doors entirely.
In fact, the finale presented one of the season's very few bits of empirical data, in a conversation between Alex Blumberg and Lauren Kay. Per that conversation, prior to the airing of StartUp's Season 2 premiere, the Dating Ring was adding between customers per cycle I'm assuming this is per week but it's not clear. So why go silent in WEEK 3? They weren't in trouble and they wouldn't have been blowing smoke; the company was actually doing awesome! I can understand displaying humility and reserve -- I'm not saying they should have been on Twitter 10 times a day saying, "Guys this thing is blowing up!
We have so many new members; join now so we can match you with your soulmate! However, I do find it odd that they stopped communicating publicly altogether during this period of exponential growth and massive publicity. These aren't media-shy women quite the opposite and they're accustomed to working the PR machine even in lean times: Crowing about how well your company is doing, when that company relies on having LOTS of members, is what you do.
Join the party, everyone else is! That many new users means a lot more plates spinning It's also possible they lost the passwords? Or maybe they decided for other reasons that free promotion and an active social presence would be detrimental to growth? But I guess I can't prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. If it helps, they both kept their personal accounts relatively active throughout this period, and Lauren even answered a handful of benign questions related to things she'd said on StartUp, they just didn't use those accounts to share links to StartUp, nor did they say after April 30 , "Hey we're the stars of this cool podcast, you guys should listen!
It seems like this is what a season or some episodes look like when the subject isn't cooperative. And by "cooperative" I don't just mean whether they'll talk to you, because Dating Ring certainly did, all the time. I also mean the situation that's in part out of any one person's hands and impossible to predict.
With this giant list of critique, the patchwork used to make a long arc out of a story that was closing too early becomes more evident. I am so supportive of Gimlet and the folks behind it. I chalk it up to a really unfortunate situation that honestly may be the nature of the beast in the start up world. I wonder if this will affect their choices next time. Remember that they're a start-up, but a successful one. They might not have the tools and maybe no one does to ID a company that will soar or plummet.
And I mean no disrespect towards Dating Ring or any entrepreneurs. I enjoyed season 2.
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Not perfect, but good enough to keep me interested. Not sure how good it was as journalism, but I liked it as documentary. It seems the Startup team started reporting a little too late, but not too late enough. It's probably pretty tricky to find a company that is in the very early stages of formation, and they are willing to have so much of their process documented, and actually be interesting. The tape was or should have been rolling for the entirety of the company's plunge from hopeful near-viability to heartbreak and existential angst. But the tape wasn't rolling -- too many conversations happened off-mic.
Too few details were revealed.
The co-founders were cagy and guarded. The stuff they delivered was self-serving pap. Who cares how Lauren's mother felt about the Dating Ring's transition from a tech startup to a lifestyle company? Who cares about how Emma met her boyfriend? How is that in any way relevant when we were never told, for example, how many people were employed by the Dating Ring, and whether any of those people were laid off due to the transition?
I'm not convinced we'll get a third season of StartUp because I think, for Gimlet, the storytelling logistics are too treacherous and unpredictable. Meanwhile, there's no real upside for the business being profiled. This isn't Shark Tank -- these people aren't selling a revolutionary new sponge, and they're not putting their product on prime time TV in front of 8 million viewers, and maybe bringing on Mark Cuban as an investor and strategic partner. It's not Bar Rescue either: Alex Blumberg isn't spending a hundred grand remodeling these startups' shitty offices, re-training their dispirited employees, and reigniting their founders' passion -- all presented for maximum uplift, and aired in front of 2 million viewers.
This is a podcast that requests near-total access and offers no reward beyond warts-and-all exposure to a relatively small group of listeners , per week with a very particular taste profile. Meanwhile, these founders are trying to launch businesses, and by participating, they're more likely to come off as liars, frauds, and fools than visionaries. Same behavior as witnessed on their social media accounts: It's certainly not like they were using the site to actively promote themselves or the podcast after that initial burst of enthusiasm. She was fine with the first charge, but didn't want to pay for the second one, because she hadn't found someone yet.
It's just that there's something fundamentally wrong with this approach of quenching it. There is no try, as master Yoda said: Same here, more surprised than actually casting any sort of judgement I was a bit confused by some of the storytelling but didn't notice the timing gaps. But maybe that's because I was distracted by what a dud this season was - chiefly because it was pretty clear early into the season that Dating Ring wasn't going to go anywhere. It seems to me that the cofounders whom I found very annoying agreed to be featured in Startup as a kind of PR Hail Mary pass, and it didn't work.
As that became clear and the company hit the rocks, they lost their enthusiasm for it. This one didn't work because there was never any real hope for DR. They thought PR was the answer to everything. But they never had a real business or any serious financing. To point number five, the podcast in prominently featured on the thankfully revamped Dating Ring website. I am truly sad to read about the poor journalism, or perhaps anti-journalism, displayed in some of the season.
But having just discovered this subreddit, I am equally surprised to discover such active dislike for the season as a whole. Honestly, the sequence of events is not something I remember these months later though it might be if I was cued into the discrepancies. What stays with me are the conversations about race and attractiveness, equity and what makes a person worthy of it, sexism and the self-doubt involved in naming it, the support of family, and the underlying question of whether perseverance is sheer heroism or dumb delusion. I was a tough sell to start, as I have no interest in online dating, but the themes developed throughout the season thoroughly drew me in and made me care about the people involved.
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In your point 6, why would Dating Ring be upset with Gimlet? Here's what we know: But when did the Colonna meeting happen? So when did the Colonna meeting happen? Here's my guess again, this is just a guess: Shit hits the fan. This too is a fact. So, with those questions asked, here's what else I want to know: What's the point of equity in a lifestyle business? It's like having equity in a deli. It would still determine how profits are distributed, if they choose to do so, wouldn't it? Listen for yourself; I've cued it up here: These are his exact words: Maybe I'm omitting details, but I essentially see it as this: But try to create a timeline where that seems feasible -- I can't do it.
What was the point? What was the result? I'd like to add. The exciting part of each day was generally walking around the corner to Safeway and grabbing Starbucks. Weeks were broken up by Tuesdays, when we spent most of our time at the YC office, catching up with other founders, attending group office hours and Tuesday night dinners. What is the atmosphere like at YC during those 3 months with Demo Day approaching?
It feels like finals period during college, except for 3 months straight. But it never felt competitive. Most people are working in such different industries, and startups are at all different stages, so really, it would be hard to compete if you tried.
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The other founders are extremely helpful. Even though everyone is under the same pressure to get as much done as possible on their startup, most founders would drop everything to sit with you for a few hours if you needed help on something.