StartUp Podcast: 116 Men and a Baby (Season 2, #10)
July 4, 2015 8:28 PM - Subscribe

Lessons learned in business and love.

Emma and Lauren reflect back on their company, their experience being on Startup, and how the two have affected each other. We learn about Emma's own experiences with online dating, and how Dating Ring plans to proceed as a "lifestyle business."
posted by radioamy (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe it's just the holiday weekend in the US, but I take it from the resounding lack of comments here that everyone was underwhelmed by this conclusion? I thought it was interesting, but it didn't really feel like a conclusion... the climax, if you could call it that, was probably the prior episode with the Big Decision.

I did appreciate the clearer window into how the podcast affected their business, and their willingness to be frank about financials and company health.

I'd be curious to know what Gimlet considers lessons learned from this season. I'm looking forward to the next one, though the winter seems like a long time from now!
posted by Kosh at 8:05 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I was underwhelmed by this episode, but that's the risk when you do a short term documentary project. Sure, you can try to push a narrative on events, but it doesn't seem like a natural conclusion to the story happened while they were recording. Can't blame them for that.

I would have liked to hear more about their internal stats, but I can understand why they didn't. As far as looks and race goes every body knows how that plays out, even if it's uncomfortable to hear about.

We know they have a lot of trouble with people dropping the dates, but I would be interested in knowing whose doing the dropping. In the last episode we find out that Emily used OKcupid to go on hundreds of dates and, herself, dropped them all the time because she was just feeling overwhelmed.

I would love the opportunity to feel that I could turn on a "dating tap" and suddenly have 3 or 4 dates lined up a week. Even if they weren't good dates.

I know there's variation among individuals, a lot of variation, but as a man online dating seems like horrible begging that often goes nowhere. It seems that women, as a group, get a lot more options to actually go on dates, than men do. Sure, there's variation, but if OK cupid's stats are at all correct that's the way this cookie crumbles.

Is that the same in Dating Ring? Are women getting lots more dates than the men on dating ring? Do they fade away before the meeting more often? Are the fades equal? What is the pre-first date fade percentage? 10%? 90%?

How long do their average customers remain with them before finding someone?

To be self serving about this, I don't want to pay for a dating service if I'm going to be getting the same constant fade from women who are just exhausted from being out so much.

Men and women have different problems online dating. But nothing in the podcast makes me think dating ring solves the problem that men have at all. And, if memory serves, they had one interview with a male dater, but several with female daters. Combine that with the founders and matchmakers being women and I get the impression that this was a company, probably unintentionally, designed to solve the problems women have with online dating. And hence not for me.
posted by bswinburn at 10:29 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I caught up on this this morning, and yeah: it was rather a damp squib of an ending.

I'm curious as to where in the story the "10x bump in signups from being on the podcast" falls. My impression is that the chronology is telescoped a lot -- that we started off the season looking a long way back in time towards their YC track and gradually caught up to current day. Did the meta effect of being featured on the podcast happen before the lifestyle-business choice? after it?

The "exit interview" seemed surprisingly guarded to me. They mentioned the leaky-bucket advice against being on the podcast: that there's little point generating lots of signups if you can't keep them happy. But then the interview whiffed on actually addressing that, giving numbers for signups and cash on hand but allowing an evasive "yeah, we've still got a lot of problems" response on attrition. Cue me in the car yelling "ASK HER ABOUT RETENTION RATE, ALEX!"

(Not least because it seems to me from this episode's "matchmaker meetings" bit that a lot of their cost per customer is front-loaded: all the more important then to retain customers for long enough to amortize the cost of that initial one-on-one meeting.)

The entire here's-a-love-story second half felt like a shoehorned-in happy ending and didn't seem to bear much relation to the rest of the series. (Also OMG WHAT NO DON'T DATE THE CUSTOMERS. SO UNPROFESSIONAL.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:22 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was amused at the "oh, we definitely won't keep your money if we go out of business." She almost seemed to believe it!
posted by smackfu at 5:31 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

all the more important then to retain customers for long enough to amortize the cost of that initial one-on-one meeting.

I think that you only get to meet a matchmaker in person if you are on the premium service, which is $800 a month. So that should be profitable, you would think.
posted by smackfu at 5:34 PM on July 6, 2015

Yeah this ending was a little underwhelming, but I agree that you can't always wrap up true stories in a big, neat bow. Also the whole season was just not as compelling as season 1 because the protagonists were pretty self-conscious, and you weren't hearing things in real-time. Retelling of fights months later don't have the same emotional draw as hearing someone talk about their business fears with their spouse.

I also am very curious about the timeline compared to the show.

Do y'all think they should do a 3rd season? And if so, should they follow the same format?
posted by radioamy at 8:46 PM on July 6, 2015

I was intrigued enough to listen to the entire season, so I'd be happy if there was another one. I'd prefer it if it didn't have an 'observer effect' as S2 did; while I like the pseudo-real-time aspect, if it's another consumer-facing business, it might be better to record the entire thing before they announce who the company is. This matters less for some types of company, though.
posted by adrianhon at 1:24 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Did any of the events talked about on the show really occur after the show started airing? Like they were at YC in spring 2014, a long time ago. The new app with their big burst of users was in October 2014. While there was definitely an observer effect, it doesn't seem like it did much other than stop them from going out of business before the season aired.
posted by smackfu at 11:47 AM on July 8, 2015

I wonder if it would make more sense to have each episode be about a different company, focusing on a specific challenge, incident, or aspect of their journey. Finding a single company that's willing to open their doors for weeks and will remain compelling all season is hard. Finding companies that have an interesting story that can be told in 30 minutes seems much easier.
posted by primethyme at 9:13 PM on July 8, 2015

I'd be interested in hearing about a company without a major leg on the internet next time. Like the trials and tribulations of opening a restaurant business.
posted by garlic at 10:10 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

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