Featured Startup Pitch: Mirror.co connects people with things in common through social discovery and personal endorsement
Founders: Daniel Mattio, Froilan Mendoza
Headquarters: New York City
Year Founded: 2011
Investors: Bootstrapped, Angels
Brief Company Description: Mirror is a social discovery platform that allows users to build their reputation and connect with others for dating, social or professional purposes.
Mirror is a new form of web interaction that allows people to curate a mosaic of who they are, as told by those who know them best, and then use that mosaic to connect with others in a more meaningful way. It’s like building your own tag cloud and then actually being able to use it.
A Mirror profile is comprised of two parts: a frame and a take. A frame is a short, fun and verified profile which a user completes—a snapshot of who that person is and why he or she is using Mirror. It’s one part LinkedIn and one part Craigslist. It includes the user’s real name, location, photos, as well as some of his or her interests, personality traits and wants. All Mirror users are verified by email and SMS. The Internet has enough fake/inactive profiles on it, we don’t want to add more. After completing a frame, a user then invites their friends to give their take—a take is a short snapshot of their relationship with the user. It is designed to promote that user’s unique personality and interests through endorsements and fun adlibs.
Mirror users build up their mosaic and reputation through their friends’ takes and endorsements, then use that mosaic to connect with others. Imagine being able to search for and connect with all of the attractive, intelligent and loyal men, talented DJs, or hard-working and creative recent grads in your area, not as told by them in an anonymous profile, but by the people in their life who know them best. That is the power of Mirror.
My background is pretty atypical for a startup technology company founder; I spent the last 10 years on Wall Street. For the past decade, I worked at Goldman Sachs and Citadel Investment Group analyzing, meeting with, and investing in, numerous Internet and consumer businesses. My time on Wall Street provided me with a very useful skill set, but it was not the impetus for founding Mirror.
I met my wife on JDate in 2003. In the few years prior, I was single and an active user of Match, JDate and even Craigslist. Believe it or not, there was a time when Craigslist was considered a viable, non-creepy online dating alternative! That was a decade ago. Over the years, I have always maintained an interest, both as an investor and consumer, in the online dating industry. I realized that the industry has not structurally changed in over a decade. It was ripe for disruption. I founded Mirror to create a new form of web interaction that allows people to search for and connect with others in a more meaningful way online; beyond the closed networks, anonymity and self-constructed profiles of traditional online dating.
We have found that there are three effective ways to market and promote Mirror: 1) product, 2) product, 3) product. In all seriousness, given the high cost of customer acquisition on the web today, the product must not only be on a platform which enables scale, but it must market itself. Given the communal nature of a Mirror user’s mosaic creation, the information being contributed to your mosaic is shared amongst your Facebook friends. You are encouraged to seek out endorsements and endorse your friends’ qualities. You are encouraged to give and receive takes. This gives Mirror an inherently viral quality. We have several other methods we are working on to help promote Mirror, using the product itself. A Facebook app and a mobile app will be launched in the next month or so.
Lastly, we have a very successful brand ambassador campaign. If managed properly, brand ambassador campaigns are a great way to acquire high-quality, engaged customers at a reasonable price. I would encourage any B2C start-up to use brand ambassador campaigns to build an initial user base, instead of spending money on advertising, PR, etc.
How We Differentiate from the Competition
Mirror is a new form of web interaction, so we aren’t experiencing much direct competition per se. There are some early-stage online dating sites that, like us, realize that anonymous, closed networks are things of antiquity. There are a few traditional online dating sites that are pivoting to the world of social discovery. Overall, social discovery, or as I like to call it, the social marketplace, is a very nascent space that no business, until Mirror that is, has explored in earnest or even begun to get right. LinkedIn is the closest business in form or function to Mirror, but exists solely in the white-collar, professional realm. Mirror is LinkedIn for the next generation.
I want Mirror to be free for all users, so we have chosen an advertising business model with the potential for premium features down the road.
Like any true startup, we are doing a lot with a little! We are blessed to be in New York City, where companies, especially technology companies, have so much capital at their fingertips, human and financial.
If we could create a wish list of specific current needs, UX/UI designers with experience in social networking, SEO/Microdata masters, and Search/Back-End LAMP/PHP experts would be at the top of our list.
Mirror – www.mirror.co