This is the second post in CBIC’s series, “Grounds for Innovation: Student Entrepreneurship at UVa”
Pear, an app that inspires matchmaking between friends, just made its debut on the App stores for both Android and iOS. Joshua Choi, the frontman and the originator of the idea, explains the unmet need that Pear addresses. “Other matchmaking apps, like Tinder, may work for a lot of people, but I knew that there was an audience for something like Pear, an audience whose needs weren't currently being met by existing products.”
Choi is an ideas guy, so “it was pretty straightforward to start a startup.” Having a great idea, he delved deeper into it. Seeing a viable opportunity, he pursued it. “There's a certain kind of pleasure in building something from the ground up, in watching others use what you've made.”
He thinks that of all his experiences so far to have prepared him for entrepreneurship, the best was writing fiction. “It trains you to come up with dozens of ideas, throw out the chaff, and see what sticks. It teaches you to treasure those ideas you can't get out of your head, the ideas your friends can't get out of their heads, the ideas that people invariably want to tell others. It's true that execution trumps ideas, but having that killer idea makes it so much easier to want to execute well, and to recruit people to help you do so,” he says.
The idea for Pear came from late night brainstorming. On the origin of the name, he says, “I came up with the name ‘Pear’ in a Red Bull fueled haze while we were rushing to code an MVP [Minimum Viable Product]…'We'll call it Pear, but spelled like the fruit,' and the name stuck."
The Pear team is comprised of three undergraduates from the University of Virginia: Choi, Alex Ramey and Will Schneider. “We brainstormed different UI and mechanics versions for Pear separately—no one was allowed to see what anyone else had come up with until they had some ideas of their own in order to avoid echo chambers. Then, we worked in pairs (haha) to cross breed ideas. Eventually, we ended up with the primary interface and mechanics that we have now.”
Since its inception, the core idea of Pear has largely remained the same. “People rate potential couples from among their friends, all votes are stored, and high-ranking couples are notified.” They experimented with ancillary features as time went on, always listening to what their users preferred. “We thought about the moments in the app that made the user's experience enjoyable, and focused on those."
Success So Far
Looking back on their journey thus far, Choi believes that the awesome people on his team have been the main factor for their success. “Finding good people is probably the single hardest challenge in any entrepreneurial endeavor. Most other problems can be overcome if you have the right people by your side.”
Secondly, he believes that the quality of the idea has been significant. “The idea itself is intuitively human. We've all seen matchmaking before, so Pear, the app, is instantly relatable. Pear, regardless of its technological platform, appeals to distinctly human elements: the altruistic desire to help friends, our fascination with how we are perceived, and a curiosity of plausible possibles.”
On entrepreneurship, Choi argues, “take any entrepreneurial advice that claims to be universal with a grain of salt—including this. Don't wear sweatpants because Zuckerberg wore sweatpants, don't yell at people because Jobs yelled at people. Find your own reasons to do your own things—maybe those things will make you end up acting like someone successful, but don't copy for copy's sake. You keep your eyes to the ground when you walk in others' footsteps. You can quote other entrepreneurs all you want, but in the foxhole, all you're going to have is your own mind and anyone you've convinced to come along for the ride. So be smart and have smarter partners.”
Toward the Future
Looking forward from the launch, Choi knows that what is going to determine their ultimate success is getting users. “Social startups live and die by how many users they can initially attract. We're going to focus on user acquisition in the form of Facebook ads and unorthodox marketing.”
The Pear team wants feedback on the look, the feel, and the functionality of their app. Since the launch on the iOS and Android stores, “we want to see what turns people off, what keeps them coming back, and what gets them talking to their friends about this app. We love exposure for that very reason!”
This article originally appeared on CollegeStartup.org, and has been cross-posted with permission here.