To say OVRLP (pronounced “overlap”) made a pivot may be an understatement: what started as a dating app (Instimate) with enhanced security features morphed into a smart social scheduling platform.
The change is all thanks to helpful suggestions by people through local market research and founders who listened.
Feedback from their test group of 500 users in the Charlotte area repeatedly indicated people’s interest in using the scheduling feature—which takes into account people’s availability through calendar integration as well as an inventory of their hobbies, interests, and preferred meeting locations—rather than the dating part of the app.
“Focus on the user experience above all else,” co-founder Sterling Scott advised emerging entrepreneurs. “The average consumer doesn’t make a purchase based on the fastest operating speeds or the best functionality, they buy what makes them feel good when they use it. You can always add a feature later on, but you can’t undo your first impression on the customer.”
The team is refining that first impression now, as they anticipate a February launch of the new scheduling platform in the Charlotte area. Their team of two is actively marketing and creating key partnerships that will supercharge OVRLP’s growth.
OVRLP’s technology is based on two key components:
- Calendar functionality: Users can manually enter or use an integration (through Google Calendar, Outlook, etc.) to import their existing meeting times. As Scott explains, “Your calendar doesn’t show your true availability. It shows when you are not available.” Users can then indicate their availability to schedule meeting times through the app, whether they want to be available only on weekends, from 6pm-9pm on certain days, or any other preference.
- Hobbies and interests: The team took their hobby inventory seriously: rather than importing personal data like other social networking sites, they developed an inventory for users to complete that will refine to closely match their interests over time. If two (or four, or six) friends want to meet, the app will compare their interests and suggest nearby activities and locations they can meet that would be preferable for the whole group. This serves the dual function of allowing users to find nearby events, businesses, and promotions aligned with their interests and find a community of like-minded people through the app.
This unique combination creates a true social scheduling platform, which the team anticipates developing to an even larger scale in the coming months and years.
Their first expansion, Scott explains, will be into transactions—allowing people to make reservations, find transportation, and book tickets for concerts, sporting events, movies, and more.
Next, they will develop options for in-home experiences, integrating their technology with caterers, party suppliers, and more to help people plan in-home gatherings with ease. Later-stage development will include functionality for friends to plan travel together and special features for people traveling to conferences and trade shows.
The app is monetized in two ways: first, as local businesses can promote their specials, events, and more to people in the area who have availability in their calendar, and second through transaction fees on bookings made through the platform.
Clearly, their goals are ambitious—and Scott says he has the talented team to tackle their big goals.
“I wanted to build a strong team early on in the first few months,” he said. “Every successful company starts as a startup, and every successful startup has a strong team. D. Alan Smith (co-founder) is a jack of all trades, a go-getter and a doer with a product development mind.”
As their business model has changed to properly reflect their true value proposition, Scott said their investors have been understanding.
“You’re not investing in an idea, you’re investing in a person. The idea can always change,” he explained. “The business has change complete since the first person who put money behind us, and he is still backing us. He’s an investor in the team and who we are.”
That idea is central to Scott’s perception of the Charlotte startup community.
“There is a lot of energy around innovation and creation. There’s not only the talent, but the willingness for people to go out, take the risk, join a team, build something,” he said. “Once you have a concentration of wealth and capital willing to invest in a person rather than a business, that’s when our startup community will grow.”