By Kate Jackson (Founder & CEO, TableCrowd)
I qualified as a commercial lawyer in a top London practice, working for clients ranging from startups to multinational corporations – always much more interested in the former, with my firm being way more focused on the more profitable latter! I left in 2007 with an idea and bags of enthusiasm, co-founding and launching ClickTonight.
Moving from the structure of a large law firm into tech was a bold move and a major shock to the system. I rode out the obscenely steep learning curve and we developed ClickTonight into a recognizable London brand with a 6-figure database.
The TableCrowd Story – let’s meet & eat!
ClickTonight hosts large events in top London nightclubs for its community and it’s through my involvement in these events that I saw the increasing demand and success of off line events for an otherwise online community. This was where I saw an opportunity; and an opportunity that extended far wider than the dating market. So armed with this, and my love for dining out, TableCrowd was born!
TableCrowd is a real life social network where you can meet people over food. People join ‘crowds’ that interest them (e.g. startups, new to town or cycling) and then members of the ‘crowd’ organise dinners for the group to meet offline.
“Sourcing a co-founder was easy for me.”
My brother and I worked together on ClickTonight and our skills are complimentary. He’s the wacky creative and I’m the military precision ex-lawyer. We bring our respective strengths to the party and fight like siblings whenever there is cross over, although rarely on the big things. We generally agree on strategy and key decisions. We were seeking another co-founder mainly through introductions and recommendations but were unable to find the right person to join us.
We ran our first tables before we even had a website, via our Facebook page and through hounding our friends and contacts to trek across London to go for dinner in restaurants they weren’t interested in. They supported us and we started running a table per week. We found that they enjoyed the experience and told their friends. This gave us some validation at an early stage.
Luckily, we have progressed since then; now we have genuine users using our platform who are meeting new people over dinner every night!
“It has been an uphill and rocky road to reach minimum viable product (MVP).”
It has been an uphill and rocky road to reach MVP around 3 months ago, with co-founders leaving and expected funding not coming into fruition. Frustratingly, we have found that our time has been spent managing problems, trying to recruit, juggling bills and having to change strategy weekly, sometimes daily, rather than having the more progressive product and marketing focus we wanted to have. Subsequently, this has meant that things have happened slower than planned, but now we are finally out of the woods! We’re running regular tables for our members and seeing some traction – we’re really proud of this.
TableCrowd has shown that there is nothing more interesting to startups than meeting other startups via a startup (did you follow that?). So needless to say, our startup tables have been amongst our most successful and the user feedback we receive from this community especially, is invaluable to us as we develop our product and grow. Our ‘new to town’ tables, for people looking to connect with new people when they get to the UK, are also a big hit.
Our vision for TableCrowd is to become the market leader for real life social networks. First stop, the UK! We have developed a clear strategy and product development plan to take us there, and we have a very exciting partnership on the horizon which will give us a helpful leg up. Very exciting times as we revolutionise the way people dine out!
Women 2.0 readers: Got any tips for reaching a solid MVP? Let us know in the comments!
About the guest blogger: About the guest blogger: Kate Jackson is the Founder of ClickTonight and TableCrowd. She is a former commercial lawyer in London who is now an entrepreneur. She loves triathlons, playing cupid and dining out. Follow her on Twitter at @KateJacksonK.