When moving to a new country, it is sometimes difficult to meet new people to socialise with, let along find someone that shares similar hobbies.
That is why Jacques-Félix Wirtz and Loïc Ambroise founded Dappin, an app that connects people around similar interests and common activities. But recently Wirtz and Ambroise themselves needed to connect with some folks… financial backers to get the project off the ground.
Wirtz said he started to think about the app during an internship in New York in 2015. “Completely on my own, I struggled in the first months to find people with whom I could easily hang out on the weekends and evenings, for certain activities, such as going to the Moma or discovering Manhattan, without having to use dating apps.”
Later he met Ambroise, originally from France, during their business studies in London, and they built a demo version of Dappin. (The Urban Dictionary defines “dappin” as “the most fun you can have without being intoxicated”.)
The way the networking app works is simple. Users create an activity based on what they are looking for. There are 15 main categories to choose from: movies, museums, sports, bars, exploring, restaurants, concerts, parties, amusement parks, libraries, cooking, travelling, games and ‘other’. Once those steps are done, users are matched with someone that has the same interest. One woman, a beekeeper, was able to find a partner to make honey.
In 2017, Wirtz and Ambroise presented their prototype on the RTL TV reality show “Success Story” (which is similar to “Dragons’ Den” in the UK or “Shark Tank” in the US). “On ‘Success Story’, we had to present our concept in ten minutes in front of a jury--an elevator pitch--followed by a more in depth presentation of a few elements of our business plan. This already gave investors some valuable insight about the app and the idea behind it,” says Wirtz. Following the broadcast, “we were contacted by many people from Luxembourg” who wanted to learn more about the app and possibly invest in their firm.
Those prospective investors were definitely interested in testing out the prototype, however, they really wanted to know “how we are going to monetise the app in the future. It is great to have an impeccable prototype, but it is as important to have a product that will attract users and make money.”
Wirtz and Ambroise ended up taking placements from two local investors, who, “through their jobs and position in Luxembourg, have the right business mindset to be part of the company and help us make relevant connections,” Wirtz said in August.
He would not disclose the amount they raised, but “the money invested in the company will help us to cover our app development, storage and marketing costs for the next couple of months”.
They hope to generate revenue soon. “The app will become next year a freemium app: the app remains free, but we will insert certain paid functionalities, e.g., boosting of activities in the future to monetise the app,” states Wirtz. “We also plan partnerships with companies which would like to be featured on the app.”
What advice does Wirtz have for budding entrepreneurs?
“Dedication and passion are key. Building a startup takes a lot of time and is not always easy. As an entrepreneur you have to be able to deal with everything and be competent in each possible field--or at least interested in each possible field. It is also important to participate as much as possible in incubator contests, as it is a good way to show your project, gain visibility and get useful advice. For example, we discussed [our project] with the other entrepreneurs during ‘Success Story’ and so got introduced to our developers.”