As part of a new series, we are taking the opportunity to put a spotlight on successful businesses and interview the entrepreneurs who founded them.
The first business we are highlighting is the personality-type dating app, So Syncd.
So Syncd was founded in 2019 by two sisters from Cornwall, Jessica and Louella Alderson, and launched in January 2020.
They have already grown to more than 60,000 active users and recently raised $1 million in their first funding round.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, business person or just like to learn about different businesses, we hope you enjoy the insights they give into what it is like to start and build a new business.
Name: Jessica and Louella Alderson (sisters)
Company: So Syncd
- Tell us about your company and the inspiration behind it.
Jess: The idea for So Syncd was sparked by a break-up up with a long-term partner. I started using Myers-Briggs personality types as a framework to understand why things didn’t work out in that relationship. The break-up coincided with me leaving my job at an investment bank and I decided to take a year out to travel and learn about personality type compatibility.
Lou: After Jess got back to London, we were having drinks in Soho and I was telling her how my friends and colleagues were going on these boring dates with people they’d met on dating apps. Jess explained what she’d learned about personality type compatibility over the previous year, and I have to say I was sceptical at first. However, we then applied the matching concept to our friends and my own relationship. That’s when I realised how powerful it is. It turned out that I’d been in a long-term relationship with my perfect personality match.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning of your journey?
Jess: I wish I’d known how important it is to build your network as quickly as possible. Whether it’s fundraising, hiring people or looking for advice, having a strong network makes your chances of succeeding at any of those tasks much higher. The support we’ve received from people we’ve met along different stages of our journey has been heart-warming and valuable.
Lou: I wish I’d been more prepared for the challenges that we’ve faced. We are both fairly optimistic but we had no idea what a rollercoaster setting up a company would be. Things rarely go to plan and you have to be constantly adapting to different situations. We absolutely love what we do on a daily basis but we definitely could have been better prepared for the extremities of the highs and the lows.
- What specific challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur and how have you overcome them?
Jess: It was particularly challenging for us launching an app without either of us having a tech background. Looking back, our initial launch was a stressful time for both of us. We were naïve about what exactly running an app involved from a tech-perspective. We quickly realised that it was going to be much harder than we expected. To overcome this, we hired a part-time Chief Technology Officer and we also now have an amazing tech adviser. Having two tech specialists who we trust has made a huge difference.
Lou: For a while we worked on So Syncd alongside full-time jobs. It was incredibly intense to try and fit in two careers and try to maintain some kind of social life. When we gave up our previous jobs to work on So Syncd full-time, it became a little easier. We still work long hours on the app, but we both love it and it’s definitely helpful to be able to fully focus on it.
- How do you view the impact of skill vs luck in your company’s success to date?
Jess: This is a great question that I’ve thought about a lot. In fact, before I set up a business, I used to ask entrepreneurs the same question. I think for us, both have played a significant role. In most cases, you need both skill and luck to succeed.
Lou: There has definitely been an element of luck in terms of us being in the right place at the right time. Equally, I think our (complementary) skill sets are perfectly suited to what we are doing and we’ve worked extremely hard. We are lucky to have each other as co-founders. The trust we share is unbreakable.
- What are your aims for the next 1,5 & 10 years, for the business, and personally?
Jess: For the next year, we are focusing on growing So Syncd in New York. We are also planning on adding a feature for people to meet friends on our app in addition to dates. We’ve had many requests for this. Looking out to five years, we hope to have a global presence. I’m looking forward to building a team and learning the skills that come with that.
Lou: Looking out to 10 years, we would love for So Syncd to be a personal growth brand. The people who use our app tend to be interested in personal development and we would love to be in the position to help them on that journey. We are also passionate about promoting equal opportunities and acceptance of different personalities and in 10 years we’d like that message to have made a difference in the world.
- Which other businesses, leaders or entrepreneurs inspire you and why?
Jess: Sheryl Sandberg (Chief Operating Officer of Facebook) inspires me. She is an advocate for closing the gender pay gap and encouraging more women to become leaders. She sounds like an amazing manager who truly supports the people she works with. I also admire Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb. He leads with real integrity and sticks to his morals.
Lou: Whitney Wolfe Herd (founder and CEO of Bumble) inspires me. She has achieved an incredible amount in a short timeframe. She overcame adversity and bounced back stronger than ever to create Bumble. Bumble’s values are very much aligned with ours at So Syncd, particularly in terms of kindness, respect and equality. I am also inspired by Kamala Harris.
- What is the best piece of advice you have been given throughout your journey so far and where did it come from?
Jess: Our parents have always said to choose your battles carefully and I think that this is particularly relevant to start-ups. When building any business, there will be distractions and challenges that crop up. Having limited time and money means you have to be very careful when choosing which battles to fight and which to let go.
Lou: Again, it’s advice from our parents: the harder you work, the luckier you get. It ties in with the previous question about luck, but we have seen first-hand with building So Syncd that the more effort you put it, the higher your chances of a lucky break. From meeting an amazing investor who is a perfect fit to securing national press coverage, the more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to find these opportunities.
- Do you work with advisers in your company, and if so, where do you feel they add value?
Jess: We have a number of advisers in different areas such as tech, marketing and legal. Having objective advisers who you completely trust is invaluable. As a founder, you’re just not going to be an expert in all areas but equally you want to grow your business fast and effectively. Having that expertise to draw down on can help with this.
Lou: Two of our advisers have set up successful dating apps themselves and it’s not uncommon for them to give us advice that saves weeks, if not months, of work. They’ve spent years testing different things and for them to be able to share their learnings is amazing. Our advisers are a great fit on a personal level too which I think makes a difference.