David Hegarty and Traun Leyden met through FounderDating, and are the co-founders of Signature Labs, a company that wants to help retailers encourage casual customers to return. They are based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO STARTUPS?
David: It is something I always wanted to do. I always tinkered on things on the side and have tried to get a few things off the ground. This time round, I actually quit my job in Seattle and moved down to the Bay Area and started focusing full time on getting something going.
Traun: I’m creative and have lots of ideas. I love building things, so I often try to turn those ideas into working products.
WHY DID YOU APPLY TO FOUNDERDATING?
David: I knew Jessica [founder of FounderDating] and I heard good things about it. I was looking for a co-founder and so it happened.
Traun: I was building an indie iPhone greeting card app and started to get heavy into Twitter. Through Twitter I learned about a startup called “Chomp”, and from them, ended up learning about FounderDating. It sounded cool, and I knew I needed to find someone who was more into the business side of the picture.
WHAT WAS THE MOST BENEFICIAL ASPECT OF FOUNDERDATING FOR YOU?
David: I really liked the caliber of people I met, they were terrific. It worked out for me and I found my co-founder, but I still stay in touch with a lot of people I met at FounderDating. I probably connected with about twenty people, and still see about six of them regularly.
Trying to find people who are in the right space in their life and interested in what you are interested in is the hardest part. FounderDating is good because it screens and sets a certain bar – people are ready to start and jump in on something.
Traun: Meeting a great co-founder.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR “DATING” PROCESS.
David: Coming out of our FounderDating session, I took contact details of about 10 people that I was interested in grabbing coffee with. I followed up with them afterwards. Traun and I did that a couple of times, brainstormed ideas and started working together on the weekends. It went from weekends, part-time to all the time, and then finally full-time.
Traun: You know, we came together as “randoms” so there was an initial trust-building process to get over. But it was cool – I got a whole new perspective on entrepreneurship. I wanted to work with David when I got a strong sense of his complementary skillset on the business side. I love technology and building products, but I don’t have a strong skillset on the non-technical aspects of building a business / entrepreneurship.
WHAT DO YOU DO AT SIGNATURE LABS?
David: We build a CRM system for high-end retailers, who call what we do clienteling. Essentially it is a system to turn a new customer into a regular customer. Typically retailers do this with pen and paper; we give them a technology system on the iPhone, iPad and on the web.
Traun: We are building the next-gen mobile CRM solution. My primary role is to head up the mobile development, and I also get involved in our overall architecture and API/webapp development as well.
We’ve built a really awesome product and are in the process of onboarding retailers. It’s one of the few mobile products that works in “offline” mode and can perform offline or on slow connections. Everything is seamlessly sync’d to all other devices and the web. It’s really slick.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO FUTURE ENTREPRENEURS LOOKING TO MEET PEOPLE AND POTENTIAL CO-FOUNDERS?
David: I found introductions to be the most effective. I frequently blast my network, and still do this now when I am hiring. Keep meeting people for coffee and try to leave with a name of two to three other people you might want to talk to.
Traun: Figure out what you really love, and focus on that. Get yourself out there and meet people who can bring complementary skills to the table.