“The new way to make friends nearby” says the website and that certainly seems to be the case. Founder Joel Simkhai’s new Blendr application uses your mobile device’s location system and then matches your interests to others in the vicinity. Then, with everyone’s permission of course, you get introduced and meet somewhere close by. It gets people out from behind their computer, making real life (IRL) connections. Available from the iTune store or from FaceBook, Blendr’s clean, friendly website is a pleasure to deal with for signup. Joel started the company with Grindr, an app to help gay men to meet, as he found it difficult to meet new people with common interests, himself. Grindr took off like wildfire and, not missing an opportunity, Joel saw an even bigger market by including everyone who wants to make new friends. “We try to keep it fun and we try to keep it about meeting,” he states.
The company started humbly enough in Los Angeles, California. With three people in the company, they began with their free version and depended solely upon advertising revenues. Joel was “reluctant to charge his customers,” but realized they had to in order to meet the capital requirements of a growing business. However, he wanted to keep balance in the company, so they kept the free version and began offering premium programs. Lo and behold, they found they provided a service that people wanted very much and did not have a problem paying for it. His advice to startups, “Don’t be afraid to charge for it!” This philosophy has had a huge impact on the company: They are self-funded. Yes tech startups, it CAN happen. Four million users and a million daily unique visitors make the company sustainable and independent.
He is inspired by the vistas he has opened for his customers, “I’m quite proud that we’ve enabled people to see the world in a little bit different way; that they now can meet their neighbors, they can meet people around them, they can see things they’ve never seen before…We’re making matches.” But it’s his attitude that comes across so refreshingly and is an example for all aspiring business owners. “In my mind I know that I can solve every single problem that’s presented to me…It enables me to go into any situation.”