“Launching Hey! VINA was simultaneously a huge success and enormous failure. I tried to raise money to fund the company before we launched, but was only able to get $10,000 from a friend in the industry.
We were down to our last $2,000, and like 2 weeks of savings before it was time to suck it up, call the start-up effort a failure, and go get a full time job. Since we had no time or resources left, we decided to launch the bare bones of what we thought would work, MVP, as they call it. I hoped to get a couple thousand downloads to show investors that women actually do want to use an app to make friends, but we got major press coverage of our “big launch” – from Cosmo, to Elle, to New York Times, TechCrunch, TV news, and more than 200 major media publications. A ton of people who have never seen a super early stage piece of tech were downloading our app.
You’d say, “this is amazing”, right?
Well, it was amazing, but it was also a full on train wreck. While we were getting crazy traction, our software was SO broken.
People couldn’t open the app, it would just crash.
Olivia Poole : Founder & CEO of VINA
We had a waitlist of over 100,000 people in a matter of 10 days. We didn’t have push notifications, we couldn’t let people create accounts, and we weren’t getting their correct email address. We were getting dozens of 1 star app reviews, and hundreds of upset emails. While we had great interest, we weren’t ready to support all of it! It was just two of us, blood shot eyes, and our laptops for weeks trying to smooth it all out and make it work!
I ended up raising $1.5M funding from the top VC funds in Silicon Valley and was even backed by Tinder Inc.. We rebuilt everything and relaunched. Today, we have an amazing team, vinas in 155 countries swiping for new friends, and so many life changing success stories.”
Olivia Poole : Founder & CEO of VINA, a startup that connects, celebrates, and empowers women through technology and media. The brains behind Hey! VINA, the Tinder-like app that connects women to new friends, and The Vinazine, a publication dedicated to helping you be your best self. Investors include Tinder, NEA, Greylock, and Wildcat Ventures.