WHY DID YOU APPLY TO FOUNDERDATING?
Darren: I’ve had the opportunity to be an early engineer at several startups in my career (Zendesk being one of them). I felt it was time to be the founder of a company but needed someone complementary to me, someone who was actually serious about starting a company. FounderDating was a promising place to find that person.
Kevin: My background is in tech but my strength is in business development. After getting my MBA from Berkeley and realizing how essential a tech cofounder is, I knew I needed that person to move forward. For a while, I thought the best place to find someone would be through my own network, but it took longer that way and I wasn’t getting the commitment I was looking for. With FounderDating, I was impressed that the network is quality and the people on it are vetted.
WHAT WAS THE “DATING” PROCESS LIKE?
Kevin: Darren and I connected shortly after the kickoff and set up a meeting over coffee. Since I had been talking with other potential cofounders outside of FD, I was already comfortable with the process.
Darren: We started off with a small commitment to do some work together. The conversations were kept high-level so we could focus on how we interacted. As we got to know each other, the product discussions happened naturally.
Kevin: We really wanted to figure out each other’s work styles before going for it. We established trust between us right away and communicated well with each other. People sometimes try to keep things in stealth mode until they really know the other person, but that wasn’t an issue for us. We talked a lot about philosophy; did we have the same vision for building a company? What were our expectations?
Darren: We found out that we had other shared interests, so we talked about a lot of non-software things. Getting to know each other on that level was important.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR COMPANY.
Kevin: Blujack makes traveling together easier through a mobile, shared itinerary for the trip. Our focus is simplifying the coordination of who arrives when, what everyone is doing, and where people are. Whether it’s just two couples or 25 people traveling, everyone has the information they need. For example, we create a timeline showing all of the flights that have been booked. We send arrival and delay alerts to everyone so if someone is late, it’s easier to plan accordingly.
The concept came from hearing how annoyed my friend was with having to gather and track the information for everyone on a bachelor party he was planning. Normally, everyone just creates a spreadsheet that isn’t dynamic or shareable. With Blujack, the user experience is streamlined and intuitive. It solves the problem.
For the name Blujack, we wanted something that was not a generic travel term. A bluejack is a type of fish that travels in a school. When you see a school of fish, it looks random and dynamic, but somehow very coordinated. There doesn’t seem to be a leader yet they all know what to do. The triangles in our logo represent data and how people use it to travel together.
WHAT’S YOUR HOPE FOR THE COMPANY?
Our overall goal is to foster relationships. Traveling is a great way to do this. We want to make the experience of coordinating everyone so simple that you wouldn’t even think of traveling without using Blujack. Our short and long-term visions are evolving as we work more on the product.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO FUTURE ENTREPRENEURS REGARDING COFOUNDERS?
Darren: FounderDating’s tagline that “Ideas change, people don’t” was in the forefront throughout the process of starting this company. The idea was secondary for me, but I knew Kevin would make a great partner.
Kevin: There are many similarities between business and life. You can’t find the first person that fits what you want and feel like they’re the only person you can work with. Good on paper doesn’t always mean they will make the best long-term relationship. Rejection is inevitable in this game, but keep persevering. If you can’t get through being rejected by someone you want to be your cofounder, you probably don’t want to mess with a startup. Spend the time it takes to get to know the person. If you aren’t getting commitment after a natural amount of time, then know when to fold it. Letting go gets you to the right person faster.
Darren: If it makes you nervous and scares you, you’re probably doing it correctly. If it doesn’t scare you, you’re not out of your comfort zone. I came in from a full-time position and could quantify what I was leaving behind when I decided to take the plunge. Having a partner that shares the belief that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, is essential.