Connecting People Through Hobbies & Interests – Sam Ethell

Meet Sam Ethell. Co-founder of Hobspot. Hobspot was created to connect like-minded people through a convenient app, centered around sport. With university students as the central users, Hobspot has grown rapidly, generating meaningful friendships through tailored preferences and advanced functionalities. Hobspot succeeds where Facebook can’t – finding you new friends that can become real ones, genuinely. This is his entrepreneurial story.

Where did the idea for the Hobspot app come from?

The idea of Hobspot came from the many common interests share between myself and Alfonso (my business partner). It’s a complete reflection of the app and how powerful like-minded connections can be not only for genuine friendships but also through the business opportunities these new connections can create.

How did you get the business started?

Through the early stages, Alfonso and I were having daily meetings which provided the inspiration and motivation to drive the idea to that next stage, but we also needed to find a coder. The business was ready to go once we found our third co-founder, Gustavo. Alfonso and I both had jobs at the time so it was a lot of late nights spent discussing the concept with Gustavo at a membership club that we had paid for to house our meetings. The final stage to solidify that we were a real business was pitching to investors and securing a seed investment to help make the dream a reality. Once this was secured the business and team started to really take shape.

What has surprised you most in developing the Hobspot app?

I think the most surprising thing for me was the process and time that securing the investment took. To all budding entrepreneurs out there be sure to have a sufficient backup plan whilst you wait for the funds to be injected into your business because it does involve a lot of back and forth between the parties.

Have there been any mistakes or regrets that you’ve made in the startup phase of your business?

A key mistake we made early on was trying to get the perfect product released to our potential users. We were trying to be perfectionists and realised that we needed to get our MVP (minimum viable product) out there into the market to gather key feedback and recommendations from the early adopters. Once we realised this, we beta-launched the app immediately following the lean start-up methodology which focuses on a Build-Measure-Learn loop, which allowed us to build the product while we were gathering information from our users surrounding validation for the concept, current features and their activity. This was a great strategy and uncovered a few key new developments that were added to the platform for the official launch.

What are three pieces of advice that you can offer anyone interested in developing an app?

  1. The team is the most crucial element and no matter how good the idea is you will need the right people around who compliment your way of thinking, but more importantly who you can trust.
  2. Persevere! there are going to be tough times where you may lose faith in the idea, you start second-guessing the path you chose and if it’s just a waste of time. Persevere and remember the feeling you felt when you had the idea and the problem you were solving. Look to potential users for validation that reinstates your belief in the concept. This is something that will be heavily supported by the first piece of advice, there were times Alfonso and I had doubts but we continued to find the positive in what we were working towards and managed to persevere and get to the investment stage.
  3. Follow the lean startup methodology and then heavily measure your user bases activity to improve the platform to match their needs and demands. Don’t waste time trying to perfect your idea, the users will decide the directions the application needs to take so release your MVP and then measure everything a user does on the platform. This will either provide you with validation of the concept through minimal expenses, allowing key data to be gathered for any improvements that need to be made or it could provide potential pivot points that steer the original idea in a completely different direction to match what users are looking for.

Sam Ethell is a graduate of the RMIT Associate Degree in Business, 2015.

Sam Ethell is also in our 2018 LaunchHUB Program. Watch this space for more exciting businesses to come from him.

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