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Letter to the Editor – Response to Kwame Spearman’s Article

We write to respond to Kwame Spearman’s recent critique of DateHarvardSQ (www.dateharvardsq.com), which admonished us for not launching our website with functionality for Harvard women and the LGBT community. Unfortunately, Kwame’s analysis was regrettably uninformed. The success of DateHarvardSQ has always been and will always be about one thing – connecting all people in search of meaningful and enduring relationships based on the qualities inherent in a Harvard lifestyle, such as a love of learning, intellectual curiosity, drive and determination. Our success hinges on our ability to help everyone who values these qualities find love. This requires us to leverage many of the lessons we learned at HBS to take measured steps to maximize our commercial as well as our social impact.

During the four short weeks since we conducted a targeted pre-launch of DateHarvardSQ, we have welcomed more than 50,000 unique visitors to our website, and have registered hundreds of Harvard men and interested women as members. The activity, comments and excitement of our early adopters enabled us to secure additional data and funding. This has given us the confidence and resources to expand DateHarvardSQ to all potential users even quicker than we originally envisioned, most likely within the next six to eight weeks.

Had Kwame contacted us before publishing his column, we could have informed him that Harvard Women and the LGBT community have always been a core part of our business, and that we undertook our sequenced approach in full consideration of every issue at stake, commercial and social. To clarify any misperceptions caused by Kwame’s article, we would like to provide additional detail about our go-to-market strategy.

There are eight market segments that we hope will benefit from DateHarvardSQ, including Harvard men and Harvard women, and the women and men who want to date them of all sexual orientations. We conducted almost a year of market research, and spoke directly to hundreds of members of these groups. We also shared our research and business plan with a wide variety of professors from different HBS departments to secure advice on the sequencing of our approach. Based on this feedback, we concluded that the best go-to-market plan for DateHarvardSQ was to test market to a limited subsection of our potential user base, gather feedback, and perfect the system before introducing the product to the six remaining groups. By employing this focused approach, we were able to expand our market data while refining our messaging, marketing materials, website development, and promotions. As a result, we are now substantially better positioned to serve all communities both at Harvard and beyond.

Courses such as “The Entrepreneurial Manager,” “Entrepreneurial Finance” and “Founders’ Dilemmas” taught us that the success of a startup hinges on the critical decisions of its founders about how to sequence a new product launch. We learned that correct sequencing enables a startup to continually experiment with the concept, generate new market research and refine it based on feedback from our first group of members.

We are thoroughly excited to provide great matches for many individuals across Harvard University in the coming weeks. We encourage everyone to try our service, and thank the many members of the Harvard Business School community who recognize the good intentions behind our targeted launch approach, and have supported DateHarvardSQ since its founding.

Best wishes,

Beri Meric & Philipp Triebel, Co-Founders of DateHarvardSQ

October 12, 2010
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