Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Drawbacks of Online Dating

Online dating is iffy.  People put up pictures and answer questions about themselves, but no one knows how accurate those are. Then when you finally decide to make the jump from just communicating online to meeting in person, there's that awkward period of trying to discern which of the people in your agreed upon location look the most like your date's picture (assuming that picture is not outdated, blurry, or just plain not them). Yepp, making the transition to the real world from the digital one can be quite the leap, especially if you haven't met before. (For all you Disney buffs: no, once upon a dream does not count).

According to Forbes, it takes 7 seconds to get a first impression in person. Over the internet is a different story. If only there was a way to get that first impression and then retreat back to the safety of online messaging until you had built up enough of a connection to meet again in person. That way, you already know (well, your gut instinct does) if you're interested or not.

If only...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pride and Preliminaries

The 121nexus team had a blast at Pride this Saturday, where we ran a beta test of our campaign solution by distributing three hundred cards for Congressman Cicilline. The results are still coming in; we've been surprised to notice that we're getting new users accessing their personal landing pages for the first time even today, three days after the event.

At the last minute, we also decided to distribute some of Foster's old dating cards to drum up interest for Shall We Meet Again. Since Foster isn't looking for a boyfriend, though, we had the codes redirect to this comic instead, which is half teaser-trailer for the Shall We Meet Again release, half an experiment in different ways to explain our technology. We hope that graphically showing the cards in action will allow people to quickly grasp what exactly we're trying to do.

This week, we'll be working on adding some features to the campaign platform to allow the distributors of the cards to customize landing pages more quickly, and on reintegrating the old Shall We Meet Again site into our new code base. At the end of the week, we should be compiling our results from the Pride test, which will hopefully help us refine our approach to 121campaign-ing.

Foster and Albert are finally emerging from grant land today, so it's time to get started!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gear Up

The intros and the set-ups are over, so it's time to get to work. And we definitely have work to do.

Our goals:

1) Apply for an NSF grant by the end of the week, showcasing the potential effects of our personal media solution in multiple markets. 121 technology facilitates a passive connection paired with human-augmented personalization to make true one-to-one connections without requiring you to log in or store everything you've ever done online (creepy).

2) Have 121Campaign completely up and running in time for Pride this Saturday, where Congressman Cicilline will be using our technology to reach out to his constituants. This test is incredibly important for us, as it will be the first time we will get real data be able to say for certain what our open (people who open the links) and conversion (people who follow up by clicking the calls to action on the landing pages) rates are. We will be at the event and handing out the cards ourselves, so we can also get user experience, at least from the distributer end.

3) (Hopefully) get the ShallWeMeetAgain site functional on a demo level so that we can distribute ShallWeMeetAgain cards at Pride and generate interest for the site.

I mentioned we have one more day to do this, right?

Wish us luck!

Friday, June 8, 2012

The New 121Team

There are a lot of new faces around the 121Nexus offices recently. In just two short weeks, we have officially brought the team from its initial two co-founders up to eight people with our plethora of interns. Let's introduce them!

In order of appearance:

Lydia- started 5/29 and will be acting in the role of project manager. She's a rising senior at Cornell University majoring in operations research engineering and will be on the development side and the business side. So far, she’s done market research on the online dating market in the US and Japan, come up with a costing model for our upcoming Japanese dating application, redesigned the blog, worked on the website redesign team, and written two blog posts (including this one).

Haley- started 6/4 and will be acting in the role of chief designer. She’s a recent grad of Cornell University where she majored in physics and will be working on the development side and the design side. So far, she’s created a mascot for our Japanese dating application, worked on the website redesign team, redone the blog header (like it?), and prepared all of our new graphic content.

Jed- started 6/4 and will be acting in the role of business lead. He’s a rising junior at Cornell University (sensing a trend yet?) majoring in applied economics and management and will be working on the business side of the company.  So far, he’s prepared a preliminary pro forma, done market research on the political campaign market and the dating market, and gone over all of the company expenses.

Nicole- started 6/4 and will be acting in the role of lead front-end programmer. She’s a rising junior at (you guessed it) Cornell University, majoring in information science, systems, and technology, and she will be working on the development side.  So far, she acted as the primary coder on the website redesign team.

John- will start 6/11 and will be acting in the role of chief marketing/PR/campaign liaison. He’s a rising senior at Brown University (switching it up) majoring in international relations, and he will be working on marketing and public relations. John is also an intern with the Cicilline campaign, and will be helping our company coordinate with the campaign.

Neal- will start soon and will be acting in the role of lead back-end programmer. He’s a rising sophomore at Cornell University majoring in computer science and will be working on the development side. He will be working with us remotely and his first project will be building an API for us.

We’re very excited about all these new members and can’t wait to see where the company can go with all this new talent behind it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

We Love RI

There’s no doubt about it, the city of Providence has been great for 121Nexus.  The culture here breeds idea sharing and trying new and innovative things: perfect for a start-up. Just two nights ago we had PechaKucha right here at the Betaspring office. A PechaKucha is when people get 20 slides, with 20 seconds per slide, to talk about whatever they want. Anyone can come and watch, and anyone can present: the talks and slides are uncensored and un-juried.  It actually started in Tokyo as a way for people from different backgrounds with different interests to come together and generate new ideas together.  The event has since spread all over the world, and Providence is in third for the most PechaKucha events, at 38 as of May 30th.
And it’s not just the culture. The city officials truly want start-ups in Providence to stay and succeed.  Considering our political application, this is great for us. Even without it, having the politicians where you work support your cause and actively try to help you is huge.  The city of Providence is committed to working with HUD to allocate funds from development to give to budding companies, just like us, to encourage job creation.  Yesterday all of the start-ups graduating from Betaspring were invited to a press conference at the mayor’s office and recognized with citations for their help generating jobs for the city. Here's the link.

This push to help start-ups prosper in Providence is given even more of a boost by Rhode Island’s size.  The small size works to our advantage, where everyone is only one to two degrees of separation away. Entrepreneurs can then quickly secure meetings with the people that they need to get feedback from in order to build a great product and business.   We could not be happier with Providence, Rhode Island.