INSTNT: Chris Seddon & James Gee
After bad experiences using one-on-one dating apps, the entrepreneurial duo decided to create a group dating app to make things more fun
Name: Chris Seddon & James Gee
Company Name: INSTNT
Location: Greater London
Date Launched: 01/03/16
No. of employees: 2
Tell us what your business does:
INSTNT is the first real time group dating app that enables you to meet other nearby groups in a fun, safe and friendly environment.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
INSTNT was founded by myself and Chris Seddon.
We created the app after years of bad experiences using one-on-one dating apps e.g. Tinder / Happn, finding them to be too time consuming, unsuccessful and even daunting at times.
We have developed an app that is essentially a hybrid of Snapchat and Tinder, cutting out the pressure of one on one dating and providing a platform for relaxed sociable dating amongst friends.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Like us, many of our friends who tried other dating apps became bored quickly through lack of success or had bad experiences leading them to delete the app altogether. We also realised there’s many who would rather spend a night with their friends than go on a first date. INSTNT allows you to do both.
What were you doing before starting up?
Both Chris and I have full time jobs at the moment so INSTNT is something we have created in our spare time. We hope to make this full time in the not too distant future!
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Have you always wanted to run your own business?
We’ve both always had the ambition to start something together. We nearly started a business a few years ago which was a platform for all your personal social media accounts, whereby you could filter only things you actually wanted to view.
We would discuss different business ideas over Skype for hours but it was hard to commit. We then moved in as housemates and the INSTNT idea was born. The app was created and developed with both of us in full time employment. This has been difficult but it was worth the effort, given how far we have come.
How did you raise the money?
We raised our capital through some close friends who have been very supportive along the way.
It’s great having the belief of your investors in an attempt to realise your dream of launching a business that you believe in. Our seed round investment was done through the government’s SEIS scheme which is fantastic for start-ups trying to raise initial funding to get going and offers the investors tax relief.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
INSTNT is free to download from the App Store. We currently don’t charge users for any features but may add some premium features in time.
We are working with a few bar chains with the view to adding popular bars / restaurants to a ‘suggested venue’ section of the group chat.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
This is our first business that we have successfully taken to market and we have learned so many new things along the way. Many creative people have ideas but it takes a lot of dedication, commitment, teamwork and effort to see an idea through to fruition.
We had to write a business plan, pitch to investors, raise capital, select a development agency, host events for press and organise student launch parties across multiple cities, all whilst juggling time outside of our full time job.
If we were to start again there are definitely some things we might do differently, but learning the hard way makes you stronger and more equipped for what might happen in the future.
What was your first big breakthrough?
We came up with the idea for Instnt after being disappointed by the other dating apps on the market. The tricky bit was converting a concept into a business.
To get us through this transition, we started by spending hours and hours writing a formal business plan and functional specifications. These were the wireframes of how each page of the app would work. This was the basis of the user journey and was vital in bringing the app to life.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
- Follow your dreams and go with your gut.
- You’ll have doubts along the way and people might suggest things that aren’t possible but say ‘Yes’ and go for it. Nobody ever said it would be easy but the rewards are so worth it.
- Live in the moment. Enjoy the ride. And when success comes, appreciate what you have done.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Our ambition is to take INSTNT all over the world. We want to be a success in the UK to begin with as there has never been a British dating app that has succeeded worldwide. Tinder grew very quickly in a very short space of time and we would love to emulate their growth and success.
We met Sean Rad, the Tinder founder at Web Summit in Dublin last November and he inspired us to follow our dream of launching and running a global business. The US will be our next stop.