Jay Singh and Dan Levin came up with the idea for ViralGains when they were still in college (it was called Viral Media Solutions at the time). In 2012, after managing to grow six figures a year in revenue, Kate Willett came on as a cofounder and ViralGains was born out of the original project. They then met Doron Gan through FounderDating, an engineer with a couple startups already under his belt (BZByte LLC, Shafir Inc.). With the addition of Doron’s technical expertise, ViralGains has become even more wildly successful. In just two years, they’ve raised $715,000 in funding, won MassChallenge 2013, and made over 1.2 million in sales working with 12 different Fortune 500 brands. In less than two years, they’ve grown quickly, becoming the forefront of online video viral marketing.
We talked with the founding team about how they met their fourth cofounder, Doron, through FounderDating:
What was the process like?
Jay: I had actually met 4-5 people on the site before Doron. We didn’t work together at first because he was working on something else at
the time. The first meeting was in early 2013, and he came on in August 2013. For over six months, we both tried our own separate things, and then we realized if we joined forces, we would have a much bigger opportunity.
Kate: Jay and I were working on ViralGains full time, while Dan was finishing up school. We had to make big decisions at the time about getting serious. Our main focus had been validating the market up to that point but the real question for us was: how do we find the technical genius to make this idea a reality?
How did you know this was a good fit?
Doron: I’ve seen big successes before with companies like Vlingo and I saw the team and what they brought. I saw all the right signs. From previous experience, I know that it takes at least 5-6 years to see something big through and I’m ready to do that. Kate, Jay, and Dan are amazing. With no technology at all, they did ridiculously well. And I thought that together, with me bringing the technology, we could do something amazing.
Jay: The idea was that if we could take the sales numbers we were having with the tech that Doron brings, we could make what we had even bigger and he was ready to make that long-term commitment. He said “I’m ready to commit to building something that’s big” and that’s how we knew
Dan: I knew we were looking for someone with a great technology background, and when I met Doron I pretty much fell in love. His personality completely fit with the rest of the team.
What’s your advice to people looking for cofounders?
Jay: I’ve seen a lot of founder conflict. We’ve been doing this for years total but in the last year and a half, I’ve seen a lot of small startups. I’ve seen 3-4 startups implode due to founder conflict. So what I would say is “know thyself and know thy cofounder.” Both people should really know what they want in the next five years and what they can agree on can happen in those 5 years.
Doron: This is kind of what Jay was hinting at, but you’ve got to go into it with the mindset that it’s a five year thing. You’ve got to have the skills to get through those conflicts in a positive way. Cofounder relationships are like being married. I’ve been married for about 10 years and I’ve learned the hard way how to resolve conflict and commit to a long-term relationship and it’s very similar.
Dan: Trust is essential. I can trust that each of my cofounders will kill it with what their focus is. I don’t have to worry about sales or the tech, my cofounders take care of that and I can focus on what I’m contributing to the company.
Kate: It’s also our devotion to the overall mission. There’s always a feedback loop so we know what’s happening, how we’re working to the end goal. And it’s also about we as cofounders empowering the rest of the team to out-innovate and be their best.
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