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Tech Cocktail Baltimore

Play Woofound’s Visual Personality Game to Find Fun Things to Do

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Baltimore-based entrepreneurs Dan Sines and Josh Spears believe they have solved the problem of “what to do” by disrupting the way people search for things to do. Their new company, Woofound, is like having a best friend that knows where to find all the fun places to go, whether you’re in your hometown or a whole new city.

Woofound is a visual personality game that finds things you’ll love to do, based on who you are and what you like. And, Woofound helps eliminate “What should we do tonight?” angst among a group of friends because Woofound can find things to do the whole group will enjoy.

I had the chance to ask the co-founders all about Woofound and their adventures in starting up. The guys had tons of great insights to share, as well as a bit of advice for their fellow entrepreneurs.

Tech Cocktail: Why Woofound?

Dan Sines and Josh Spears: Woofound really evolved from a need we felt as users to be able to personalize the ways in which we discover things to do and make plans (especially when it comes to finding things for a group to do, accounting for the various personalities and preferences). Reminding ourselves of that need and looking at our product through the eyes of a user has really helped us refine Woofound. At the end of the day, we really just want to make something people can use to live better lives that are memorable and suited to who they are.

Tech Cocktail: What makes Woofound so special?

Sines and Spears: The unique way in which Woofound learns about a user’s personality and preferences came about through a combination of frustration with traditional data collection methods and our own interest in images and visuals. We felt that asking a user to list what they were interested in or asking them to complete a ten page questionnaire was impractical, not to mention pretty boring. Dr. Noreen Honeycutt, a Baltimore-based psychoanalyst, was one of the first to suggest that we use images and prompt a user to simply say “Me” or “Not Me.” It was very game like and had a feel reminiscent of free association, while bypassing the issues we had with traditional methods of data collection.

Tech Cocktail: If you had Woofound to do all over again, what would you change?

Sines and Spears: When we started work on Woofound, we began as a web-based application. We quickly learned that although the web works, the mobile world is where we needed to be. The experience we gained from the beta test of our website really allowed us to refine our product and focus on making the mobile version streamlined and efficient for the on-the-go youthful audience. If we could go back in time a year ago, I would’ve started first on our iOS app, but I must say the journey to getting there really helped to make our product stronger.

Tech Cocktail: What else makes Woofound different and better?

Sines and Spears: One of the main questions we get revolves around if we’re pulling in user’s Facebook and Foursquare data. While we believe that data is useful, we strongly believe that Woofound’s system is more focused on getting to the core of who a user is and thus recommends more relevant experiences. That being said, we would like to incorporate multiple data streams in the future to help accentuate a user’s profile.

Tech Cocktail: Any words of wisdom for would-be entrepreneurs?

Sines and Spears: Make a plan and stick to it, but be prepared to change and pivot at any minute. We have made a great deal of pivots in our one year in development, and each change has sharpened the overall product that we will be releasing this month. In some ways I feel like you need to do a mixture of defining your product and also letting your product define itself. At its core Woofound is a personality game that learns about you and can find things to do based on your unique personality and preferences; however, we are already excited about the other possibilities that exist with that level of personalization.

Woofound demoed at Tech Cocktail’s Baltimore Mixer and Startup Showcase Wednesday evening. If you missed the chance to meet the team, check out the Woofound website to try out the product and learn more about the company.

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About the Author

Meg Rayford is a communications consultant based in Northern Virginia. She previously spent two years as the Director of Public Relations for a nonprofit startup, where she learned a lot about providing clean water for impoverished countries, even within the confines of a bootstrapped startup. She is the editor of Tech Cocktail, and she develops media strategies for companies in Washington, DC and Virginia. You can read her most recent work in the marketing chapter of the upcoming book, "Social Innovation and Impact in Nonprofit Leadership," which will be published in Spring 2014 by Springer Publishing. Follow her @megkrayford.

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