BONUS: special ‘uncut’ episode.
Jessica Alderson is the founder of app Spsyncd. In interview she shares her story with Nerds of Business host, Darren Moffatt.
Jessica Alderson is the founder of https://www.sosyncd.com/
What to listen out for:
4.33 How the So Syncd app works
7.27 Darren tells us his personality type and it is SPOT ON!
11.30 Does the So syncd app attract a certain personality?
13.54 The beginnings of so syncd
21.09 Jessica talks to us on the topic of market share
23.49 Jessica awakens our NERD bot
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Darren Moffatt 1.41
Well, hello and welcome to another episode of the nerds of business podcast. My name is Darren Moffatt, your host and this show is one of our episodes for the new season on the mindset of the disruptor. And I'm really thrilled to be joined this morning by a very exciting, entrepreneur from a new start up out of the UK, called so syncd, which is a dating app. And so for anyone out there in the world of dating, this will probably grab your attention. Jessica Alderson, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having me. Well, it's great to have you with us. So, I think, dating is such a, it's a huge market, you know, I mean, well, I describe it as a market, but let's face it, it's a human activity before it’s a market. It is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs, and everyone knows the big names, you know, in this market Tinder and, Bumble and all the others. Uh, so, so syncd is a very new company. I think, I think you only really founded, last year during the pandemic, for those listeners hearing about you for the first time. What exactly do you, do you know, how are you different and who do you help?
Jessica Alderson 2.58
Yeah, so we are a dating app, based on personality types and specifically, so syncd is based on the Myers-Briggs personality test, which is yeah, one of the most widely used personality tests in the world. Um, and essentially we are for people who are looking for meaningful connections. So, you know, it's less, less about hook-ups and kind of short-term things and more about, I guess, you know, real deeper connections.
Darren Moffatt 3.29
Yeah. Right. So, um, there's no sort of swiping left or right. Based on some sort of photo that may or may not be real. There's none of that. Yeah, exactly.
Jessica Alderson 3.39
So no swiping on the app, like we wanted to encourage people to spend a little bit of time or like more time, you know, looking at people's profiles fully and reading, um, the answers to the questions that they put and things like that. And to just be a bit more thoughtful about it, really. So yeah, kind of a different setup.
Darren Moffatt 4:00
For those people who aren't familiar, maybe step us through this, the Myers-Briggs test I know about it, of course. And, um, you know, maybe we'll, we'll get to what personality type I am in a minute and maybe yourself as well. But I think our listeners would be very keen to understand that test and what it's about, where it's used and why is actually a really valid short is to have in a dating app like this.
Jessica Alderson 4.27
Essentially, um, on our app, when you sign up, um, you take, it takes on average four minutes to do the personality test. It's 40 questions. So it's based on the Myers-Briggs test. It's not the Myers-Briggs test. Okay. Um, and essentially there are 16 different personality types and each personality type consists of four letters. So the first better you'll be either I or E introvert or extrovert. I think quite a lot of people know what that means. Um, the second letter you'll be either S or N, sensor versus intuitive senses and more, I guess like detail oriented and intuitive’ s are more focused on the bigger picture. Then you are T versus F thinker versus feeler, thinkers make decisions more based on logic and feelers make decisions more based on people and values. And then the last letter is P versus J perceiver versus judger. Perceivers are a bit more kind of adaptable go with the flow, judges are more into kind of like structure, they like routine, They like to plan, that kind of thing. So, when you put all of these letters together, you get a personality type, say like INFJ, which we call so thoughtful on the app or ENTJ, which we call so ambitious. Um, and yeah, so that's the kind of summary of the, the personality, uh, test and the personality types and then yeah, why it works so well in dating I mean, there's just very strong correlations between, I guess, like which, which personality type combinations work better in relationships, and which, uh, I guess a less natural fit. And I mean, what was quite interesting is know when we first started out, we had a podcast as well called personality love lab.
Jessica Alderson 6.18
We, at that point, we didn't have lots of success stories cause we don't, we just launch. So we were interviewing couples who hadn't met on the app just to delve deeper into the dynamics of personality, types and love. Most of them are really good personality matches or perfect personality matches. And, uh, someone messaged us and they were like, oh, why do you always into these really great personality matches? And we weren't being picky with the couples that we chose. We wanting to interview as wide a range as possible. We were like, well actually it's because the matching theory works and the, you know, the relationships that you see more and more frequently are the good personality matches, if that makes sense.
Darren Moffatt 6.57
Yeah, no, it does. And I was actually, uh, on the app last night. I should point out that, uh, I wasn't doing this behind my partner's back. She was sitting right next to me and, and we were having a good look at it and, uh, she has a background in, in HR, so she, and she is well acquainted with the Myers-Briggs test. And, um, and so yes, we had to look at your classifications of those personality types and, and apparently I'm in ENTP what does that mean?
Jessica Alderson 7.26
Ok, so you would be quite focused on ideas, like definitely an idea person. Um, is that, is that true for you?
Darren Moffatt 7.36
Yes. I would say so. Yep.
Jessica Alderson 7.40
Yeah, ENTP’s tend to be focused on lots of ideas. So instead, you know, some people drill really deep into one thing. Um, the ENTP do, do that to some extent, but then they quite often jump to another thing and then another idea and, uh, they love exploring and they're also, uh, very logical. Um, they like to really, I guess, uh, they like to debate as well as that.
Darren Moffatt 8.05
Well this is really incredible because I wouldn't say a champion high school debater but I was a noted, debater and public speaker. Um, and, and, um, I do have a tendency to, uh, go from one idea to the other. I try to reign that in, but look, that's actually uncanny. Out of interest Jess, are we allowed to sort of find out what your personality type is?
Jessica Alderson 8.31
Yeah yea, of course. Yeah. So I'm an INFP personality type, we call it so unique on the app. Again, so I would use, uh, so the second level of, I guess the personality type theory is cognitive functions. Um, and so I would use one of the same cognitive functions as you just in the second position rather than the first position, but essentially what that means is, um, I'm also like focused on lots, lots of ideas. I have lots of different like hobbies and interests. And I guess one, one thing that ENTPs and INFP’s are at risk of doing, uh, is like starting lots of projects and not necessarily finishing them. They definitely can get around that with some self discipline, but that's kind of, it's in their nature to like start things and with lots of enthusiasm and excitement. Um, but then, yeah, I guess one of the main differences is, um, I guess, like I'm a feeler rather than a thinker and I'm very focused on, I guess, like my personal values and doing things that are in line with them. Um, so yeah.
Darren Moffatt 9.33
Wow. Okay. And one more quick thing on the Myers-Briggs test and how the app works as, as I understand it, this came from my partner last night and we were looking at it and she was saying, oh, yes. Well, when it's sort of based on Myers-Brigg, uh, testing, uh, the match is probably where there's a mix of commonalities and a mix of differences would be why the matching would work. Is it, is that right?
Jessica Alderson 9.58
Yes, that is exactly right. We match couples who have just the right amount of similarities to form a strong connection and just the right amount of differences to create that spark because either extreme is not usually ideal, it can work like no personality type combination, you know, won't ever work. We never want to say that, but, um, you know, they might require a bit more work and an effort, but I mean, that, that then provides us good balance because if you date someone so different from yourself, then it can be hard to form a really good connection and have great conversations on a daily basis. But then if you date someone who's like the same personality type, for example, you really don't push each other out of your comfort zone and you don't really grow as people as much. So is that what you would say you and your partner are like a mixture of similarities.
Darren Moffatt 10.50
Oh, she definitely pushes me. Yes. There's no question there.
There's been a, there's been a lot of personal growth, um, uh, in our relationship, often I've resisted it, um, probably like in a lot of couples, but yeah, I think what, you know, what you're saying rings, it rings a lot of bells for me, as no doubt does to many of our listeners. And I guess, one more quick question on that the app is essentially a marketplace, right? So it's a marketplace of, uh, males and females, um, uh, but also different personality types. So another question that is quite interesting with regard to the Myers-Briggs test is do you find that you get more of a certain cohort on the app because of the nature of the personality type?
Jessica Alderson 11.30
No, that's, yeah, it's, it is an interesting question and a hundred percent. Absolutely. So, each letter you have a roughly kind of 50, 50 split in the population. So 50% introverts, 50% extroverts, except the second letter, which you tend to have 70% senses, s’, and 30% intuitive, N’s, but on the app, it's a completely different distribution. We have far, far more N’s. And that is, I guess, like, you know, to some extent due to the definition of N’s are focused on abstract theories, they love exploring kind of, yeah. I guess, uh, like abstract concepts and you know, the Myers-Briggs theory is that in itself. So they do tend to be, intuitive do tend to be quite drawn towards like personality type systems, like Myers-Briggs. Um, but yeah, we do, we have senses as well. So yeah, that's, I guess the main kind of difference that we've seen and then we do tend to have more introverts, um, rather than extroverts.
Darren Moffatt 12.42
You have more introverts, rather than extroverts on the app, is that right?
That's really interesting. It's kind of counter counterintuitive. I would have thought have more extroverts, but why do you think there's more introverts on the app?
Jessica Alderson 12.52
Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of dating apps are set up for extroverts, but ours is a bit different. It encourages like, I guess, slightly slower dating, um, which, you know, as an introvert, you might not necessarily want to talk to someone and meet up straight away. And there are lots of dating apps out there that encourage that it's like, oh, get off the app, like meet someone straight away. But actually we just encourage people to do things at their own pace. They want to meet up quickly. Great. If they want to take their time, then that's great as well. And, I think it's, yeah, that kind of, I guess, acceptance and, uh, like different pace is something that attracts introverts really.
Darren Moffatt 13.36
Wonderful. Tell us about the background. I mean, you're, you've got a really interesting story. Like, how, how did you end up the founder of a dating app and like, did you, did you foresee that in your future? Um, and it's a fairly, um, uh, unique place to be. Yeah. So tell us, tell us the story that led to that.
Jessica Alderson 13.54
Yeah, no, I definitely never ever imagined I would be the founder of a dating app. Yeah. So I used to work at an investment bank and I was working at the investment bank for years in London. And in the last two years, those four years I was dating someone who was Australian. And yeah, and so one day he was like, oh, do you want to move to Australia with me? And I was like, absolutely. That sounds amazing. Always loved Australia. And so we ended up moving to Sydney together. After a year, things didn't work out with the relationship and also I was leaving my job at the same time. So these two, I guess, like fairly big life events happened and I decided to take a year off to like basically backpack around the world. And I’d be interested in personality types for quite a long time by then, but like mostly applying it to, I guess, like, you know, understanding, work colleagues, understanding friends, family, but because of the breakup, I then started applying it to relationships and love and dating and then I had this year off as well, I could really, really delve into it and I imagine like quite a lot of entrepreneurs can be quite obsessive about a topic when I get into it, so really spent, you know, a lot of that year, like just understanding personality type compatibility in various ways. Like sometimes it'd be people that I met when I was traveling or like I'd stay with couples and my Airbnb’s and things like that, kind of observe their relationships and then there's so much online, like so many forums and just kind of read and read and yeah, we understood it in all these different ways.
Darren Moffatt 15.37
So at some point you must have, co-opted your sister Luella into this idea? So when did that happen?
Jessica Alderson 15.43
Yeah, so I got back from the year of traveling, got back to London and I was having drinks with my sister and Lou, and she was saying how her friends and colleagues were just going on these terrible app dates and just wasting so much time essentially. And I was like, you know, just spent the past year, like essentially researching personality type compatibility. And we know there's a much better way to match people. Like instead of just taking a stab in the dark, right. or just like matching based on, you know, a photo or two, it seemed, seemed kind of crazy when you took a step back, and it was just like something it's just like a no-brainer we were just like, right. Let's do this well, to be fair. She was a bit sceptical at first. Like she didn't really know Myers-Briggs and in as much depth as I did. And then, you know, we applied the matching concept to her friends and people she knew and relationships and her own relationship as well. So she'd been in a long-term relationship with her perfect personality match without even knowing. so yeah, she took a bit of a convincing, but on that night we, you know, we just decided right. We're going to do it. and then the next day I literally went to her flat and we started working out how to build the app.
Darren Moffatt 16.58
Wow And, um, know in the research for this show, I saw that you've recently raised, about a million dollars US, you've got, 60,000 users or so, you said the app has processed 3 million messages and you, uh, pretty sure that you've, um, created 500 loving couples already, and this is already in the space of one year. So those stats are very impressive.
Jessica Alderson 17.21
It just seemed very counter-intuitive to us that like the vast majority of dating apps, you know, pretty much all of them are just based on, you know, people match based on one or two photos or, you know, there's sometimes an about me section or whatever, but there's not really any data, or kind of reason behind it other than looks. And I mean, obviously personality, compatibility plays a huge, huge role in if a relationship works out or not, or, or even if you have chemistry, you know, it doesn't even have to be like, you know, a long term relationship, but it, it plays a huge role in attraction and compatibility, I guess that's what it is. We just took a step back. Like this makes no sense, like this should be done differently.
Darren Moffatt 18.09
Yeah. It's like, uh, like all the best news sort of products or innovations, it's, it's an obvious idea in hindsight, you know, when I, I saw this, I was like, oh, um, surely that's been done before, but it actually hasn't been done like this before. And of course, a lot of dating agencies in the past and the analog world, so to speak, you know, before platforms really started dominating this space would take surveys of the respective members and try and match them up based on interests and so on. So it's kind of being done, but it never been done like this and at scale through an app. And so my take on it and feel free to shoot me down on this, but I would almost describe this as, as, um, dating for data nerds, people who, who are more logical, uh, and, and also you're tapping that hidden market of dissatisfied Tinder users.
You know, there's I've got friends who, uh, use this app or that app, um, uh, quite a lot or views it quite a lot over the years. And, and it's just very often a sort of a real sort of nagging dissatisfaction with it. Like sure, you can meet people hook up and have some fun or whatever, but it's like, oh, well that one, another one didn't last very long or whatever the case may be. So is that what you, did you clock that, did you think, oh, they're just big sort of latent market opportunity to hear that. I think we can really get in getting in there and get some of that.
Jessica Alderson 19.30
Yeah. Yes. exactly. It's interesting that the markets that you said are the markets that, you know, we kind of created a bit of a, I guess, a business plan to some extent just before we launched and we have those markets kind of mapped out. So yeah, as mentioned, you know, there's a market for people who are just fed up with the dating apps that existed already. Um, and then, yeah, exactly. Then another market is people who want to be a bit more efficient and logical. They don't want to just take a stab in the dark. They don't want to completely leave, you know, a good date or potentially love to chance they want something a bit more methodical. And then there's this other market as well, which is quite interesting and that's the kind of market where I guess, you know, people have, have struggled to find someone like maybe, you know, they very, very rarely meet someone who they really click with. Um, and, this market tend to feel like a little bit misunderstood and they, you know, they tend to be, I guess, like to some extent, a little bit quirky, like in a good way and yeah, you know, they just have really, haven't had, I guess there's a bit of crossover with the first market there, but they just haven't really had much luck on the dating apps that existed.
Darren Moffatt 20.51
Maybe you'd like to share with us what your plans are for market share market share, like if say fast forward five years, um, the app continues to grow, uh, at an exponential rate. I mean, how much market share do you think you might be able to take off Tinder or some of these big names?
Jessica Alderson 21.09
I mean, it's, the market question is really interesting because I guess there's two aspects. We've actually found that a lot of people that join the app are new to dating apps, which is quite unique in itself. And actually, you know, your average person has, I think it's like four dating apps, depending on which data source you look at on their phones. So, you know, most people aren't on just one dating app, but I guess it's one of the most pressing things that we didn't necessarily foresee happening is that we're kind of opening up a new market. So like we had a couple get in touch the other day and they were like, oh, um, neither of us had ever used a dating app before. Like we really just didn't like the sound of the ones that, that we knew about. And then we found so syncd and we both were really into Myers Briggs, and then we matched. I think it was within a few weeks. It was fairly quickly. Um, and now they're, they're in like, you know, they have an eight hour first date and yeah, it seems, sounds like it's going really well.
Darren Moffatt 22.14
An 8-hour first date, gee some marriages don't last that long. that’s, um, that's a marathon.
Jessica Alderson 22.23
Yeah. We've had, yeah, lots of couples move countries to be together actually, which is also quite interesting. And I think not, not that many dating apps, um, kind of have that in the same way that we do at least. so yeah, I think it's hard to say in terms of market share, because it is that kind of blurred line between taking market share and actually opening a new market. And I think it, I guess it's kind of yet to be seen how exactly that plays out.
Darren Moffatt 22.49
And, um, so yeah, to the idea of disruption, um, just to sort of riff on that a little more. I mean, I think if I can be so bold to put some words in your mouth, I mean, I think what you're saying there is that you're, yes, you're creating this new market. You're getting these new users that have never used an app like this before. So in that sense, you could say that, um, you know, you're also disrupting that sort of, uh, that traditional sort of organic, uh, dating mechanism of just people meeting, you know, sort of normally, or, you know, uh, through non platform interactions. Um, so that's one observation I would make, but further to that, like what, what do you think are the key forces in your app, in the design of your product that, uh, are so disruptive and, and, and, and really so key to your success thus far?
Jessica Alderson 23.40
So I mean, I guess it is that USP ready. And so I guess we've talked about the matching algorithm, right. And how we match, you know?
Darren Moffatt 23.49
Now Jess. That is nerdy. Okay. So you've awakened the nerd bot. We have a nerd bot on the show and whenever there's something super nerdy, you know, she Springs to life, uh, now I know what USP is, but, um, uh, you know, some people won't, so you might just want to sort of unpack that and explain that yet.
Jessica Alderson 24.04
Yes sure. So, I guess essentially the way we match people, we started off with this theory right, which I'd essentially developed from my year traveling. Um, but now we have the stages that, which is, you know, over 650 couples. unlike other apps, we can actually then refine the matching algorithm, and kind of see which what's working and what's not. and it's, it was cool actually, one of my friends, uh, like walked past someone cause it yesterday. And, um, they were talking about our matching algorithm, like just these random people, like at a pub. And I was like, that's crazy. yeah, there's, there's that, And I think, yeah, that, that kind of attracts that, you know, one of those audiences that we talked about, like slightly geeky kind of like logical, logical people. Um, so that's an attraction in itself. And then I guess the other point, I would say there is like having the personality test, is it's interesting in itself because it then just naturally the people in the app, even if you didn't have the matching algorithm would just be more likely to be on the same wavelength. Right. They are looking for something more than a hook-up. you know, they've taken the time to take a personality test, or they're signed up to now that is based on personality. So then just innately, they are more likely to, yeah.
Darren Moffatt 25.27
Yeah, so it’s sort of that, like attracts like thing it's a different cohort, it's arguably less superficial, more, um, more thoughtful, deeper kind of people who are, uh, happy to do sort of, um, more cerebral dare I say it.
Jessica Alderson 25.41
Yeah cerebral, exactly. And introspective as well I’d say.
Darren Moffatt 25.46