Beta Byte: FOAF



Beta Byte is a series underwritten by Bust Out Solutions for that early stage tech found somewhere between idea and reality. Equally exciting as it is raw.

Are you in this phase?

What is the name of the company and/or product? Where is it found online?

Friend of a Friend: ; ;

What problem does this solve?

Online dating is difficult for many of us.  According to a large study published this year by Northwestern University, the typical online dating site’s programming algorithms don’t work.  The questionnaires are exhaustive – even annoying, and don’t represent who you are.  Some people either knowingly or mistakenly misrepresent themselves because the profiles aren’t vetted.  And, many people – especially women, are understandably anxious at the prospect of a lone, meet-up with a perfect stranger.

We’ve come to refer to online-dating as stranger-dating because the biggest problem with online dating sites is that a miniscule number of successful relationships actually begin between two complete strangers.  68% of lasting couples report meeting through a common trusted connection.

We will provide an easy way to meet and/or introduce your friends and foafs.  Want to introduce two of your friends without the pressure or awkward blind date?  Invite them to FOAF and then break the ice for them – they can take it from there.  If you are single, your trusted network of friends does the vetting for you so you know something about the person before you meet.

What is the full launch/release date planned?

We’re testing the application on October 19.  The site is invite-only and will launch in St. Paul/Minneapolis and Chicago in November.

Who is on the team?

Ann Flood, Founder, CEO

Jason Baine, Co-Founder

Joshua Smallwood, CTO

Paula Libbey, Director of Marketing

Jennifer Nebbia, Business Consultant

Andy McGrath, Software Development Consultant

Bust Out Solutions

Is there a revenue model? How big is the market?

Our revenue model is first to offer discounts for dating venues, activities and products through a popular daily deal website as well as partnerships with local bars and restaurants to advertise upcoming events or specials. Upon launch of the full site we’ll offer premium features to which non-single users may subscribe for per-use and/or monthly subscription fees.

The market is vast. Anyone, single or not, who uses social sites such as Facebook or networking sites such as LinkedIn are in our market, beginning with a target market of 22-42 year-old women in St. Paul/Minneapolis and Chicago – the site is invitation-only so we can control growth and costs prior to opening in new markets.

What is your greatest strength?

Finding a match or making one through mutual, trusted friends is how human beings naturally interact – and, unlike algorithms it actually works.  68% of lasting couples report meeting this way as opposed to 4% online.  We are simply providing a technologically modern space in which that natural connectivity can take place.

What is your biggest weakness?

“So, you’re trying to be Facebook?!”

No way. Facebook has [obviously] done a phenomenal job creating a social network.  FOAF is not about setting one’s status, check-ins, photos or extensive profiles.

FOAF is about new connections being leveraged from existing ones.

On, “Fixers” [non-single users] are given the chance to easily break the ice between two people (friends or FOAFs) who they think could hit it off and then letting the two take it from there.

I want Mixers [single users] to meet matches with whom they have connections in common rather than enduring the isolation and anxiety that can occur from stranger-online-dating.  I’m old-fashioned; I believe that your friends know you better than a computer program ever could.

What is one resource you could use that would take this to the next level?

Of course money is the easy answer.  It’d be great to have a huge advertising and marketing budget and be able to open in 200 cities instead of 2 but if users increase in the two cities, then our projections of the revenue stream should allow us to grow.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Ann Flood, FOAF Founder: If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be building a website right now, I would’ve told you that you were nuts.  I’ve been a business owner for 16 years but I’m not a tech-person at all.  The idea for FOAF came to me out of nowhere but I do believe, that the more love in the world, the better for everyone so, in that way, I think FOAF can and will make the world a little bit better.


  • Judy

    Sounds like a great idea! Sign me up!