Robert Victor and Dan Oved are members of FounderDating based in New York City. They met through our website and have started their own company – Tapactive, helping people stay fit with private workout instructors.
Rob: When I was building mobile and emerging products for companies like Google and DoubleClick, I was moved by the devotion and tenacity demonstrated by the startup founders. They worked day and night, with limited resources, and yet were more innovative and faster than we were. I knew I had to be surrounded with people like that, with passion for work, creating something new and changing the world. After helping a few early stage companies through fundraising, pivots and acquisitions, it was time for me to make my own path. Now, I just had to find the right business at the right time, which is easier said than done.
Zipcar and Airbnb were making traditionally expensive services more accessible. Uber was revolutionizing service booking and dispatch. SoulCycle was making fitness instruction social and fun again. We saw an incredible opportunity to combine these trends, making high-quality fitness instruction like Personal Training, Yoga and Pilates, accessible to anyone, alone or with friends, in their home, office, local park, or building’s gym with the freedom to book through their mobile phones.
Dan: Until April of 2012, I led a team that developed technology platforms at Equinox Fitness. Technology helped Equinox transition from a high-quality, personal fitness company into a thriving lifestyle brand. And while I loved working at such a cool company, I wanted to build a new service using technology that helps people live a healthier lifestyle, without the constraints of legacy infrastructure. Then I went to Blueprint Health where I was a Floating Founder helping healthcare startups.
Now that I’m an entrepreneur, I love that there are no limits to the direction of technology that I create and products we launch. I’m involved in every part of our new business, not just technology, from picking a name to defining our social strategy.
Why did you apply to FounderDating?
Rob: Before Dan and I started Tapactive, I briefly tried creating a company on my own. After a few setbacks, I finally understood that many hands don’t just make light work, they increase your morale. That’s when my search for a cofounder began.
A great friend and trusted advisor, Frank Barbieri, introduced me to Jessica [Editor’s note: CEO of FounderDating]. I joined just in time for the first or second NYC new member welcome kickoff. Still, it wasn’t until several months later that I met Dan through the FD website.
Dan: I was looking for a business-minded cofounder when I saw a tweet from Andy Weissman about the upcoming FounderDating application deadline. The 50/50 split of tech and business founders and the vetting process attracted me; I applied immediately.
Tell us about your “dating” process.
Rob: A month after our first online message, we finally met. I immediately felt that Dan was the perfect co-founder for me and Tapactive. Before him, I met countless potential partners. None were as excited, knowledgeable or as dedicated about starting this business.
Through our dating process, I learned that a great match goes beyond talent and skillsets. Dan’s strengths and personality, perfectly balance my own. He focuses on research. I am more impulsive. Together, we’re an odd couple that makes well thought through decisions, quickly.
Dan: I was at Blueprint Health working with a few startups and learning a lot about what makes good founders and how to successfully launch a business. I had been fielding many competitive offers from early stage startups to more established ones but I knew deep down inside I wanted to start something on my own. I messaged Rob through FounderDating; his profile particularly stood out due to his engineering background and experience at Google.
I left our first meeting feeling incredibly charged up and excited about what was possible, but it was an extremely difficult choice between starting something from ground zero or joining something existing and established with more security. After consulting several “personal advisors”, including technology leaders who had been in a similar position, friends, and VCs, I realized this was the right time in my life to take this opportunity and Rob was the perfect match for me.
Rob’s experience working with companies of all different sizes, through various stages, selling, marketing and designing new products helped me feel comfortable with the risk of going it on my own. We’re more than just business partners now, we’ve become good friends.
Rob: Dan and I didn’t start slow, spend time brainstorming ideas or work on a sample project. Some recommend those types of exercises for learning about each other, but for us, there just was not time to spare. We saw an incredible opportunity to disrupt a fast growing, fragmented market and wanted to move quickly.
After meetings, discussions about the opportunity, and several dinners, I was ready to move forward. Dan spoke with friends and colleagues, asked me pointed questions about the business and came up with his own ideas that had never occurred to me. The process took about two months before he was comfortable moving forward.
Tell us about your company.
Rob: Tapactive offers private workout instructors for individuals and groups, anytime, anywhere.
You can schedule personal training, yoga, pilates, and other types of fitness instructors that come directly to your home, office, private gym or park. We make private instruction more accessible by providing the convenience and freedom of booking, payment and rating of each instructor through your mobile phone. We further improve the experience by allowing instructors can to add notes about each session and send you training reminders, helping you achieve your goals. Tapactive allows you to schedule one-on-one classes or make workout more fun and social by inviting your friends, family, clients — anyone — through our application. You can even spread the cost amongst the group, making private training more affordable. We’re making a service traditionally only available on a gym’s schedule more accessible, convenient, social and fun.
Do you have signs that it is working?
Rob: We’re in private beta but service businesses like ours are already proven to work. Everyday, people hire personal trainers, do yoga with their friends or join a cardio bootcamp with their spouse. We’re creating a more convenient way existing customers to access instructors and attracting a new, younger base looking to have fun workouts.
We’ve already seen overwhelming demand from friends and acquaintances. One innovative startup plans to offer weekly yoga classes for their clients at their office.
Dan: We have been reaching out to trainers and yoga instructors in our network who all love the technology we are building as it solves many problems for them. They are all eager to get on board.
What does the future look like?
Rob: Personal fitness is changing and we’re at the forefront of several exciting, new trends.
Workouts are becoming more social, spiritual and fun. Mobile applications are making fitness more effective and efficient. Devices like Nike’s Fuelband are helping track progress toward personal goals.
Tapactive brings people together, helping them have fun while sweating and getting fit. Eventually, our platform will tie into the latest devices, like Nike’s API, while still providing the motivation and expert guidance that only a great in-person instructor can provide. For now, we’re already moving forward by having instructors available on your schedule, anywhere.
What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs regarding cofounders?
Rob: Try to ignore people talking about how hard it is to have a startup, especially those doing it on other people’s dimes. Focus on the positives. You are your own boss, building your own product — what could be better? Go start something today – even a side-project with someone.
Dan and I think about the future, but mainly focus on each individual next step. To stay focused, we celebrate every milestone, no matter how small. So far, we have funded everything ourselves because we believe in our company and ourselves.
Now that we’re getting our first customers, sending out credits to our friends and family and starting to raise some outside funding from angels and venture funds, our philosophy is really paying off.
Dan: Be patient and wait for the right opportunity before picking a co-founder. Find someone who complements your skills, is willing to compromise, and who you can imagine being stuck in a room with for 60+ hours a week.
Tapactive is offering Founderdating readers a free $20 credit to keep your New Year’s Resolution to stay in shape. You can go to their website this week to register for your gift and you’ll be informed as soon as it can be redeemed. You can also tweet them – @tapactive. Alternatively, tweet Robert @robertjvictor and Dan @oveddan.