Recently we had an opportunity to speak with
, the Founder & CEO at
Please share with us the backstory of what motivated you to create this app.
So, rewind the clock to about 12 years ago - December of 2004. I was planning goals for 2005, and I was 4.5 years into running a company I started called Snagajob. And, for all of you who have had any involvement with a start-up, you know it's all consuming. It was somewhat of the typical story where I'd bootstrapped it with my own savings, credit cards maxed out, parents ended up putting in basically their entire life savings, college friends, sister, uncle, aunt, friends of friends, etc. etc. As is often said - it's one thing to lose your own money; it's a whole other thing to lose someone else's. Especially when that's your family and friends (or who at least you hope are still your friends!).
Net/net, I felt overwhelmed with making Snagajob successful. It just had to be. Not just for me but for all of the people who had invested in it. And, who worked there.
As a result, of feeling overwhelmed, I was pouring every ounce of time and energy I had into Snagajob. And, I had nothing left for any other areas of life. Fortunately, I wasn't married at the time and didn't have kids (no time for that!). But, because of that, I felt very off-center. I knew other areas of my life were suffering. I wasn't in contact with my friends. I didn't make time to do things with family (I didn't even go to my childhood best friend's mom's funeral because I was "too busy"). I had pretty much become one dimensional. And, I felt it. So, as I sat there getting ready to plan my 2005 goals, my theme for that year was going to be "Balance".
I broke my goals into 2 buckets: "Personal" and "Snagajob". I started cranking on my Snagajob goals first. I had several pages of them. I then did my Personal goals, and I had about a paragraph. Then, the irony of it him me that my theme was "Balance" and yet I had boiled my life down into 2 buckets, seemingly making Work just as important as every other area of my life combined. And, in this case, the work bucket was much bigger (and thus more important!), and I was a heck of a lot more intentional about it! That obviously didn't seem to work.
So, I started reading everything I could on living more intentionally and in a more balanced way, and I started planning for the most important areas of life to me and the people who were most important to me in a much more intentional and fun way.
I got married in September of 2006 and started doing this same "planning and living" with my wife; much to her chagrin I think at first, but now she really likes it (I think at least…:)). Life started to get more complicated and busy (and a lot more fun) when we had our first child in December of 2007, then our second in 2010 and our third in 2012.
And, as things got busier on the homefront and at work, I found it even more important (and a heck of a lot harder) to be planning for the life I wanted because when I wasn't doing that, I was just "reacting" to whatever was finding its way onto my calendar. We had grown Snagajob from about 15 people in '04 when I first started doing this to over 300 people in 2012. We had taken on several different vc rounds and things were busy at work. Very busy.
In 2013, I went through a big transition at work. I transitioned out of the CEO role and into just a board role (I'll have another blog entry on this one. Maybe two or three…:)). I stayed through the end of the year for a transition, but I started to think about what was next. By the beginning of 2014, I started to manically focus on what I wanted the next 5 years of my life to look like. Specifically, I focused on near-term for 2014, as I was going to take that year pretty much "off" and just spend with family.
As I was doing that, I wanted to find a more robust and efficient way to plan for and live my ideal life. Something that wasn't as manual as what I was doing now - putting ideas and plans/goals into Google docs, needing to then put them into my calendar, remembering to come back at the end of a month and checking things off, remembering to share certain ones with other people who I needed to share them with, etc. And, I wanted to see new ideas - what were other people doing to live this way? And, ideas of things they were doing in these various "buckets of life."
So, I started searching for tools to help me do that. But, none totally hit the mark for me.
By the end of 2014, I had started to work on a prototype of what this could look like. What I wished it could do. I started meeting with a ton of other people and picking their brains about what they wish they had to help them live that ideal life for them. And, by March of 2015, Nick Jester joined me as the first full-time team member, and away we went working on the beta. At this point, it's evolved quite a bit from that initial idea. Maintaining that initial core idea but hopefully improving upon it a lot based on our learnings with the real focus of the app being on helping people easily make plans to do things with their most important people and privately sharing photos of all of the cool things they're doing together.
So, the point of DieHappy is to help people live a life they love - whatever that looks like to them. One that's Intentional. Balanced. Fulfilling. And, a heck of a lot of fun because they're spending time doing the things they love to do with the people who matter most to them. So that they live happy. And can die happy - hopefully a long time from now!
What surprised you most in your journey to create this app?
Initially, we were just focused on helping people do things with their closest friends and family. One of the surprising things that came from our discovery sessions was that our users didn't have a great way to privately share photos with those people when they were doing those things. So, a big component of the app (photo sharing) wasn't even part of the initial beta version.
How did you decide which platforms to release your app on and do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms?
A majority of our target audience are iOS users, so we wanted to start first with that platform, figure out what was causing the most engagement and then try and replicate that on Android.
How is your app different than the rest of the market? Which unique need does it fill?
DieHappy is the only app that combines the ability to easily make plans with your closest friends and family and privately group photo share, while serving as a one stop shop for everything you need to keep up with your favorite people, such as their important dates and wishlists. Think of it as a "CRM" tool for your most important people.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
We'll be rolling out the following features over the next few months:
-The ability to create photo products within the app from the Moments you're creating
-The ability to create "Groups" that you tend to share with frequently, so that you can more easily plan, share and message with that Group
-The ability to tee up relevant recommendations of things for people to do as we learn more about the plans they're creating
-Android platform (not really a feature but much needed!)
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the creation of this app?
The most rewarding aspect is watching users do things with the people they love the most because the app made it easier for them to do so. The app is all about bringing friends and family together and helping them to share and relive those awesome memories they're making.
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
One of the coolest features is a "date polling" feature that easily allows you to suggest multiple dates to the people you're trying to make plans with, they can vote on which dates work best for them while viewing their own calendar availability within the app (and if they don't have the app, they can still do so through the website), and you can then see what date works best for everyone, select that date and then have it synch to everyone's calendars automatically. No more of those 10 group texts and emails back and forth trying to find a date to get everyone together!
Which other mobile apps or technology have inspired you?
There are a lot, but some of our favorites are Airbnb (beautiful design in its lightness and simplicity), Amazon (simplicity and utility), Spotify (ease of use and recommendations/AI), and Pinterest (UI and recommendations/AI).
Do you have any recommendations or advice for others wanting to create a mobile app?
Have a very specific initial target audience and have the discipline to focus in on one specific pain point that audience has and try and address that really well before expanding out to other pain points and feature sets. Focus and simplicity is key (not that we've done that as well as we need to!).
You can view DieHappy here
For more information, visit: http://www.diehappy.com