Today’s Q&A Wednesday is with Steve Odom, Founder and CEO of Gelato.
Q: Give us the elevator pitch for your company?
Gelato is a new online dating service that imports what you’re doing at Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Pandora and other services to build your dating profile. It’s about finding the right dates based on what they are actually doing, instead of some carefully crafted, static profile that sounds like all the rest.
For example, on Gelato, you can write about your favorite movies, but you can also show the last three movies you’ve rented at Netflix. By showing the kinds of movies you actually rent, it gives potential dates a much richer, authentic view of what kinds of movies you like.
It’s realtime too. Realtime is interesting because let’s say you are at an Alamo Drafthouse Singalong. You can do a search like “show me women, 30-40, non-smoker, politically liberal, who have recently mentioned ‘Alamo Drafthouse Singalong’ in their lifestream”. Which means if they have recently Tweeted about the singalong or posted a flickr photo from one, then they will show up in your search results. Or it could be UT Football. Or Bob Schneider. Whatever your interests may be. Now that lots of us are sharing much of what we do in realtime, Gelato can help you match you up with others doing the same thing.
Q: How did the company get started? Who had the idea? Was there an “A Ha!” moment?
I got divorced a couple of years ago and found myself trying online dating. I was surprised that dating sites hadn’t changed much over the years. It took a long time to create a profile. There were lots of fake profiles. A lot of the profiles all sounded the same. As a result, it felt like I went out on too many dates where we didn’t have much of a connection.
At about the same time, I also started using Twitter. I found with Twitter, that if I followed someone for a couple of weeks that I really got to know them. I wanted that in a dating site.
Q: How has the company been financed so far? Are you looking for additional capital?
Gelato has been self-funded so far. We have gotten a lot of attention since we launched in September at the DEMO Conference. We’ve had stories in ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, New York Times, Austin Business Journal, and lots of others. People have responded very positively to it. Now that we have launched and have some traffic, our mission is to understand how people are using the site. Basically, we’re developing metrics on conversions, doing lots of A/B testing, and small iterations. All of this to know what it takes to get a new visitor, make them happy enough to convert to a paid account, and what is the lifetime value of that paid account. Once we have those metrics, we can demonstrate what we can do with additional capital behind us and go out and raise some money.
Q: What can we expect to see in the future from your company?
There are so many cool things we want to do. 40%, roughly 40 million, of the single people in the US use online dating sites. It’s a billion dollar market. But I don’t know anyone that is really happy with the big dating sites. It’s a big opportunity. People seem to like what we’re doing. One dating blog called it the easiest dating site ever. We want to make it even easier. We have had suggestions for a recommendation engine so you don’t even have to search for dates. They are recommended to you. We have lots of interesting data on which to make recommendations. What movies a person has watched. What kind of music they like. What they have been talking about. So recommendations are going to be our next big feature. Mobile is also an obvious addition to really leverage our real-time, location-aware data.