Hanna Adeyema, John Vogel and Ron Davis are members of FounderDating who successfully matched and started working together on Tenacity. Hanna and Ron met in class at MIT. They started working together on a class project at the MIT Media Lab and got more and more passionate about the behavior change science. As Tenacity started to get traction, Hanna and Ron needed a technical person. By that time, they didn’t know that John (PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford and member of FounderDating), was coming on their way.
We had the chance to learn more about Tenacity, their experience on FounderDating and entrepreneurship.
Q: “Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?”
RD: “I was part of the law school at that time and I could have made great money right away after college, but I also had a kind of entrepreneurial bent – bring something into business that could change human behavior excited me a lot. The chance to challenge myself and see how big this could be was much more interesting to me than having a big paycheck .”
HA: “I’ve always been passionate about entrepreneurship. Before Tenacity I joined a few other entrepreneurial projects. Being part of a new project always excited me.”
JV: “I started my entrepreneurial life right after Stanford down in the Bay Area. I loved the entrepreneurial lifestyle and I stuck with it. My most recent positions were as CTO at ReliableSDN and VP of Development at Calico Energy.”
Q: “Why did you decide to signup for FD?”
RD: “Hanna and I were looking for a technical person and we joined different networks like FounderDating. We were looking for someone RIDICULOUSLY awesome, whose competency complemented our own and who was a person we could do more than just work with, but someone we could engage with at multiple levels. We found John on FounderDating and he was all of these. We wanted someone smarter than us, with more experience than us, and John was both.”
JV: ”I was looking for a new challenge, started using FD and was pleased when Hanna contacted me.””
Q: “What was your ‘dating’ process?”
HA: “Ron and I both met in class a few years ago at the MIT Media Lab taught by Sandy Pentland, who is founder and director of the Human Dynamics group. He was featuring various research in this class and we came across a research to change health behavior and we found it very interesting. I was looking for the right team and a great project to join: while working in class together I felt Ron was the right person to do business with.”
RD: “Yes, we got excited about that and thought there was some potential as a business idea. We worked together as a class project. Later we joined the MIT competition and we were one of the semi-finalists and then, eventually, decided to start Tenacity!
Q: “What does Tenacity do and what progress have you made?”
RD: “Tenacity reduces turnover in industries where turnover costs are cripplingly high. Our software uses a behavior change method invented at MIT called “peer-rewards” to get employees to make changes in key behaviors that will improve the quality of their workday and will deepen their social relationships with coworkers. These changes are strongly associated with higher retention rates. We’ve built a smartphone app, a redesigned web application, got some world class investors, and now have got some of the world’s leading companies that are willing to to pay us to pilot Tenacity. And we were in Techstars.”
Q: “What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?”
RD: “Creating something out of nothing: if there is anything you have to do, either you or your team has to do it. It’s complicated, but you need to have the diversity to be able to do what other people can’t.”
HA: “It’s a great opportunity for personal growth and transformation. I think no other profession challenges you at every stage of the project.”
JV: “Working with a small but high-performance team makes my job fun. I’d rather wear different hats in the company with great people. I’m very much interested in the upside, and of course, hope that fulfilling our company’s mission will bring us financial success.”
Q: “What would you tell entrepreneurs looking for a network or co-founders and advisors about FounderDating?”
HA: “FounderDating is great, not just to find a cofounder. It helps find people to find other people such as advisors. I found that the response rate was pretty good and the quality of the network is great. In our case, FD helped us in the challenge of finding another cofounder and especially the CTO.”
JV: “I personally joined FD to team up with business and marketing people. I’ve been impressed with the caliber of people I’ve found on FD. Since I joined I also created great connections with other entrepreneurs; In some cases, a first coffee turned into a friendship which is great!”
Q: “How do you recommend your fellow entrepreneurs to get the right person on-board?”
RD: “Meet in person over a cup of coffee for an hour or so. Then ask your technical mentors to check his/her technical skills; asking for recommendations from previous bosses and/or coworkers is very important too: you need to see if the whole story you saw during the interview comes together.”
HA: “I personally try to understand if the personality is reflected in the online profile and if there are any kind of gaps that can look strange. I usually try to understand people and always hire slow!”