FIELD 3 Startup Diaries

FIELD 3: Introducing yenta-friend, online matchmaking reinvented

It’s hard to believe that we’re already a month deep into FIELD 3. Then again, my team only just finalized what exactly our product will be, making this an ideal time to start sharing our experiences.

I’m the CFO of The Yenta Group, ticker symbol: YNTA.

My CFO goodies. HBS has made this extraordinarily simple for us. And colorful.

Our inaugural product is yenta-friend, an online matchmaking community. We’ve been through a variety of pivots already, and have many ideas about what we’d like our service to grow into, but our basic elevator pitch is such: we make the time-old tradition of matchmaking easier and more fun by leveraging online tools.

The moment we decided to become YNTA! From left: Mike, me (Jyll), Fernando, Pat, Chris, Maxine

Online dating is a rapidly growing space; 40 million Americans (that’s 42% of single Americans) use online dating sites, and the industry is expected to be worth $1.3 billion by 2013, according to Mashable. While the space is quite crowded, we believe that we’re offering something unique and superior by lowering the barriers to entry. Many people don’t like to use online dating since they have to complete an online profile, meet strangers, fend off creeps, etc. However, everyone LOVES setting up their friends and living vicariously through their single friends. (We’ll soon be testing these assumptions through customer focus groups.) On yenta-friend, “yentas” (matchmakers) can search for matches among their single friends, or find matches among their friends’ single friends, then use the site to simply and humorously suggest a date, vetted by other “yentas.”

Chris loves to draw things. Here's his mock-up of a yenta's "stable of studs" (working name).

Okay, we probably need a bit more work on our elevator pitch, but look how jazzed we were when we finally hammered out the idea!

Happy yentas!

Our stock was clobbered by Section F on trading day, but we feel confident that our investors will be much more impressed by future iterations of yenta-friend – and hopefully, a minimum viable product to demonstrate its stickiness.

Our Valentine's Day promotion in Section F

I love our group. We all come from very different backgrounds, have different interests and get psyched about different aspects of the business. Over the weekend, we decided to more clearly delineate roles and responsibilities for each team member. Accordingly, we split into three “work streams” – MVP (minimum viable product), technology and marketing – each with it’s own leader.

Giving Chris a run for his money, I drew a snazzy diagram to show our new cross-functional structure.

I chose to be the connector between technology and MVP because a) I feel confident in my marketing capabilities but want to develop my operations/execution experiences, and b) I usually take over and try to lead in group situations, so I thought it would be good for me to explicitly be a supporter/follower rather than the leader.

Throughout the rest of the semester, I’ll keep you updated on the trials and tribulations of The Yenta Group and my personal reflections on the process. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, leave a comment below or e-mail us.

February 28, 2012
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