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Archive for November, 2007

Our New Blog, Our New (Old) Name

Posted by Adam on November 27, 2007

Readers, we have a big announcement to make. You can find the news on our new and permanent blog.

Posted in About Sparkker | Leave a Comment »

Why Sparkker rules and conventional online dating blows

Posted by Peter on November 26, 2007

Sorry, we’ve been busy debating names again and stuffing our faces, so not much time to write. But, nothing like lifting some (mostly) pre-written copy for a blog post:

Why choose Sparkker over conventional online dating?

  1. It’s more natural and social
    Human beings, in the real, offline world, meet new people with and through their groups of friends.
  2. It’s safer
    Safety in numbers, people!
  3. Avoids the stigma of conventional online dating
    Which sounds desperate? “I’m meeting some new people with my friends” or “I’m going on an internet-arranged blind date with some stranger named Pat. Did I mention I met Pat on the Internet.”
  4. More options among a group
    Not hitting it off with this guy or girl? Move on to the next one, you have a whole group to choose from.
  5. Your friends help you make better decisions
    (When they’re sober.)
  6. The group setting helps weed out the loners and boners
    People without friends can’t do much with a group dating service; liars will get called on their lies by their friends.
  7. If it’s a total bust, at least you’re still out with your friends
    No need to frantically call your friends after a dud date–they’re already there!
  8. It’s something new
    Seriously, Sparkker is a revolution in nightlife!
  9. It’s more fun
    It’s simply more fun!

Who should use it?

  • Single people looking to meet new people
  • Taken people who want to hang out with their friends and help them meet new people
  • Friendly, social people of all sorts and interests

Peter (& Adam & Dan)

Posted in About Sparkker, Online dating | Leave a Comment »

We’re Big in Japan

Posted by Adam on November 21, 2007

Yesterday, Dan came across this entry about Sparkker on a Japanese blog called Nice Meets. You have to take a peek at that.

It’s very likely that they came across Sparkker via the Daily Northwestern Article as it is referenced two-thirds of the way down the page.

I, however, choose to believe that they found Sparkker after seeing us on the Japanese Network News.

My friend and fellow TEFL teacher, Skye Lee, teaches English in Japan. He provided the following translation of the blog:

It says that you made Sparkker, a way to make groups, events, and meet up in real life situations. It (Sparkker) gives one the opportunity to go on a date, meet new friends, or meet a partner in real life. Some jerk named Adam Sachs and a friend made the application that is a combination of social networking and online dating. If one adds the application to their facebook profile, they can use the service. A group leader (ambassador) decides what each group will be like and what type of group they will search for. Also, the ambassador looks for and plans events. It is an idea that came about after graduation and moving to New York. After graduating, there were less opportunities to meet people and because of the millions of facebook users, you thought it would be a good platform for meeting new people. You didn’t have the know-how so you contacted the founder of meetup.com for help. According the the manager of the blog Sparkker.com the owner (of sparkker) moved to New York after graduation and never had the opportunity to meet people. According to the owners experience, it isn’t too hard to make friends in general, but it is difficult to meet people outside of your social circles. As a result, Sparkker is a mix of a dating site and a social networking site. It is only in its beta version, but it is already a success.

Some jerk named Adam Sachs? Already a success? Hmmm… Does Dan write for this blog?

Many thanks to Skye!

Adam Sachs

Chief Friend Maker, Sparkker

Posted in Blogs | 2 Comments »

To D or not to D

Posted by Peter on November 18, 2007

It may not surprise those of you whom we consulted again and again on our name a few weeks back, but, damn, we’re hung up on a single word again. We’re obsessive about (or slow with) the words we choose.

One of the most obsessive/slowest debates we’ve had since the start is whether or not to use the word “dating”, commonly called “the D word” around Sparkker office. (“Office” is also up for debate.) We fear directly using this D word, the word that shall not be named; it’s like our Voldemort or our Yahweh.

It’d suck if the bogey man swooped in and killed us, but it’d really suck if, by using the D word, we started getting associated with match.com or e-harmony. Dating is kinda lame; few people we know really want to do it. Internet dating–i.e. using the internet to set up blind dates for you–is really lame.

Now, before you think we’re judgemental, note that we have lots of friends who met their SOs (or just got play) via conventional dating sites, and are nothing but happy for them. We’re judging the activity, not the people who do it. And before Sparkker, there wasn’t any better way for them to meet new people.

Anyhow, getting back to our bogey word…. So, we think the D word is lame; we think you think the D word is lame; and we don’t really want to be associated with the current category of D services. further, what we’re doing doesn’t really feel like D_____. So, debate over, don’t use the D word.

Except that in trying to describe what Sparkker is, if we simply say “Group D____”, 7 out of 10 people immediately get it. The light bulb goes on. There’s no other 2-word description that gets the point across pretty well. Every other way we try to describe Sparkker ends up a little clunky, the light bulb flickering a bit at best.

So, there’s our conundrum. We should do some proper research on this some day, but for now, we’ll just keep bugging the people we know for their perceptions of the D word. If you leave a comment, we guarantee it will get read, probably about 14 times.

Peter
Principal (A word you won’t see us use again)

PS – Wait a second, what about the other 3 out of 10– what do they think Group D_____ means? 2 out of 10 say “orgy”, thinking they’re being funny. (Many of our friends made this joke. We’re judging the joke, not the people who made the joke.) 1 out of 10 says–we think seriously–“oh, it’s for swingers.”

Posted in About Sparkker | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Daily Northwestern

Posted by Peter on November 17, 2007

Alums hope to see online sparks fly with Facebook application (Nov 16, 2007)

Internet connections could lead to real-life couples

Sam Kirkland

Online dating is about to get easier, more practical and more realistic, thanks to two NU alums.

This week, Adam Sachs, Communication ’05 and Dan Osit, Communication’04, launched Sparkker, an application on the popular social networking Web site Facebook.

The application allows users to form groups with their friends, plan events with other groups and ultimately interact with potential dating partners in real-world settings.

“In a lofty sense, our goal is to change the way people date and meet new people online,” Sachs said.

Sachs described Sparkker – the name refers to the spark created when two people meet – as “a hybrid between social networking and online dating.”

Once Facebook users add the application to their profiles, they can create groups for their friends to join or join other existing groups. Group leaders, called “ambassadors,” set the group’s location, sexual orientation and description. They also specify what qualities group members are looking for in other people.

From there, ambassadors search for other area groups and plan real-life events and meet-ups.

The idea, Sachs said, is to do what other online dating sites such as Match.com and eHarmony.com do not: simulate the group setting where people really meet one another.

“Sparkker is about getting out and getting into the real world,” Sachs said. “It is very location-based.”

A launch party will take place in New York in the next few weeks, and Sachs and Osit said they hope to one day hold bimonthly mixers in locations around the world, including Chicago.

The idea for the application came from what the developers were experiencing after moving to New York following graduation, Sachs said.

The friends – who met during Fall Quarter of Sachs’s freshman year – found themselves socializing with the same people week after week and never meeting anyone new.

Sparkker’s location on Facebook essentially means free advertising to millions of users, Sachs said.

“We want to start as a Facebook application because it’s an easy and quick way to reach 50 million people instantly,” Osit said.

Osit said Sparkker could one day expand into a Web site of its own, but for now it’s relying on word of mouth to spread interest.

“Facebook in general is very viral,” Sachs said. “You tell somebody and they tell somebody. Information travels very quickly.”

Because Sachs and Osit have little experience in designing and maintaining Web content, they brought Peter Kamali, a co-founder of Meetup.com, on board as Sparkker’s chief technical officer.

“Through a friend of a friend, we had him as an adviser,” Sachs said. “He kind of fell in love with our idea.”

Sparkker is different from typical online dating Web sites because most of the interaction will take place away from the computer screen, Sachs said.

“We want to emphasize people meeting in real life,” he said.

But some NU students said they are wary of online dating in any form.

Communication sophomore Eric Choi said he used Facebook to meet eventual friends before coming to NU based on their listed interests, but he wasn’t a fan of the recent flood of applications on the Web site.

“There’s a lot of random stuff,” Choi said. “I really don’t bother with them because they’re pointless. (Sparkker) would be useful for a particular demographic, but not for me.”

Kristen Sun said she has never entered the online dating scene but said that might change if Sparkker is successful.

“It sounds interesting,” the SESP freshman said. “I might try it out.”

Reach Sam Kirkland at samkirkland@u.northwestern.edu.

Posted in Press | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

SPARKKER IS LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by danthemann on November 14, 2007

Yes folks, you heard right. The day you’ve all been waiting for has arrived… The Sparkker Beta Version is now available as a facebook application! Everyone has to check it out, it really looks amazing. (and it’s only a beta, mind you) Everyone should commend Peter for a job well done. Take a look, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed…(and while you’re there, don’t just browse… CREATE A GROUP!!)

SPARKKER FACEBOOK APP

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Appsolutely Shame-ulous

Posted by Adam on November 13, 2007

So last night the team went out for a couple beers to mentally unwind after a big meeting. Peter suggested we go to The Ginger Man, a pretty old school bar with lots of dark wood, flattering lighting, and some 80 international beers on tap. It was a quiet Happy Hour crowd so the Asian camera crew walking around filming patrons was especially intriguing.Before I go any further, I should note that we had just come from a meeting with potential investors so we were all dressed in suits. I was also sporting a white Sparkker baseball cap (available in one-size-fits-all for a low low bargain bin price at Sparkker Store).

Hoping to get the hat – and more importantly the Sparkker name and logo – caught on any sort of videotape, we flagged down the Producer, Sue. The pretty woman explained in a thick accent that they were from Japanese network news (akin to something as popular as NBC Nightly News) and were shooting a story on Americans enjoying Kiuchi Beer, Japan’s Gold Medal winning White Ale. After some charming persuasion, she brought over a pint of Kiuchi and the camera crew. She told me not to hold back when it came to describing the gustatory superiority of the award winner.

Seeing it as a great opportunity for self-promotion, the camera light went on, I took one sip and immediately launched into a Debbie Does Dallas-esque display of euphoria. I moaned with satisfaction, pounded the table with my fist, and passed the beer to Peter and Dan so they could sample the golden nectar. They too joined me in the revolting sycophancy. Dan demanded the waitress bring him a Kiuchi too, but in an even bigger glass, while Peter remarked with a smile and wink, “This is the best beer I’ve ever had”. We weren’t taking any chances, we had to get the hat on Japanese TV.

And that brings us back to the hat. I’m a tall guy, so sometimes it’s hard for shorter people, or lower angled cameras for that matter, to see the logo on whatever baseball hat I’m wearing. From his vantage point, Dan could see that the camera might’ve been missing the logo on the hat so he nudged me and told me tilt my head down. From then on, after every sip I took, I bowed my head slowly. I probably looked pretty odd to the few Americans watching from their bar stools, but I hoped Sue would just think I was a dumb American trying to replicate what movies and television have taught me is a Japanese gesture of deference.

She didn’t seem to mind the incessant head dipping and proceeded with some questions about the beer. This is when things got even uglier.

Sue: What does the beer taste like?
Me: It’s light and delicious!
Sue: Would you say it’s refreshing?
Me. Refreshing? You bet it is, I feel like I could run a marathon right now.
Sue: What would you compare it to?
Me (pretending to mull over the question by bowing my head and scratching/pointing at the Sparkker logo): It’s very Sparkkery.
Quick Note: The moment that word came out of my mouth I got really nervous that she was going to get offended and think I was making fun of her, saying Sparkle-y in an Asian accent, but really I wasn’t, I was just trying to plug the Website, I swear! She didn’t seem to mind though, so neither did I. She pressed on:
Sue: Sparkkery?
Me: Oh yeah, VERY sparkkery. It’s like champagne. In fact, I’d say that Kiuchi is the champagne of Japanese White Ales.
Sue: Ohhh champagne.
Me: Sparkkery champagne.

With that the interview was over. Sue seemed really happy with how it went. Peter and Dan are pretty confident that we’re going to get on the air. Dan is also convinced that they’re going to dub over my voice and simply invent whatever they want me to say anyway. I imagine I’ll end up telling the nice people of Japan something like:
“This is super #1 beer of loves. It fill me up. Let’s drinking Kiuchi!”

If you’re reading this and you live in Japan, look for Sparkker on the Network News! Also if you’re reading this and you live in Japan, I sincerely apologize for any incidental offensiveness.

And by the way, the beer was actually really delicious. Long after the cameras were off and the crew had disappeared, Dan ordered one for himself. Here’s the website: Kiuchi Brewery

Adam

Sparkker Chief Friend Maker

Posted in About Sparkker | 1 Comment »

What is Sparkker??

Posted by danthemann on November 9, 2007

Since we have yet to really spell it out, many of you are probably wondering what, exactly, is the concept behind Sparkker. You’ve joined the Sparkker Fan Club (facebook group), you’ve checked out our homepage, and you’ve been reading our blog on a daily basis – you deserve at this point a full, clear explanation of this brilliant concept known as Sparkker, right? Well, sorta. Although we are launching in the coming days (check back here for an official announcement) and we should probably inform you, our potential Sparkker user, exactly what Sparkker is, we will instead choose to be shrouded in mystery and let the legend of Sparkker continue to grow. In previous posts, we have explained to you why you should use Sparkker, and now we will explain to you how Sparkker originated – with some slight allusion to the mysterious Sparkker concept. (fyi* sneak peak of the About Us page on our site)

Like most great ideas, the concept behind Sparkker was rooted in a need we felt in our actual personal lives. Having recently graduated from college (go ‘cats!), moved to NYC, and entered the professional world, we found it difficult to meet people outside of our immediate social networks (and it had nothing to do with Adam’s borderline IBS, and my excessive brow sweat). Sure, it was easy to meet friends and friends of friends, but to really expand our social networks and meet new, interesting, and fun groups of people (preferably opposite sex) to hang out with; now that was no easy task. One way to meet people outside of our social networks was to message random peeps on Facebook, but that is just plain sketchy (even for us). Another was to join an online dating site, but we are so accustomed to the social nature of Facebook that dating sites seemed awkward and antisocial. This got us to thinking… How about a site where you can meet new groups of people but with your friends; the way we socialize in the real world! And thus, Sparkker was born!

Our mission, at Sparkker, is to help you meet new people in a fun, social setting. We aim to use the Internet to not only graph your existing social network, but to expand it; both online and off. Sparkker, as a service, can be used for any number of purposes, and it’s really up to you to get out of it what you want. All we ask is that you treat other members with respect and always have fun!

Soon, we will have a large and robust user community at Sparkker. We are hoping that you early members will prove to be influential in setting a friendly, casual, and fun tone. As some of the first to join Sparkker, you and your group have great power to mold the Sparkker community. We hope you will take full advantage of this opportunity by actively using the site/application, and emphatically telling other like-minded friends to come join.

By using some context clues, you should probably be able to figure out the concept behind Sparkker by now. If you haven’t, then you will simply have to wait for the launch (so soon!)

Dan “Chief Americana Officer” Osit

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Thou Shalt Not Dilly Dally

Posted by Peter on November 7, 2007

We were impressed by this list of “15 Startup Commandments” from the Web 2.0 Entrepreneurs Group:

1. Your idea isn’t new. Pick an idea; at least 50 other people have thought of it. Get over your stunning brilliance and realize that execution matters more.

2. Stealth startups suck. You’re not working on the Manhattan Project, Einstein. Get something out as quickly as possible and promote the hell out of it.

3. If you don’t have scaling problems, you’re not growing fast enough.

4. If you’re successful, people will try to take advantage of you. Hope that you’re in that position, and hope that you’re smart enough to not fall for it.

5. People will tell you they know more than you do. If that’s really the case, you shouldn’t be doing your startup.

6. Your competition will inflate their numbers. Take any startup traffic number and slash it in half. At least.

7. Perfection is the enemy of good enough. Leonardo could paint the Mona Lisa only once. You, Bob Ross, can push a bug release every 5 minutes because you were at least smart enough to do a web app.

8. The size of your startup is not a reflection of your manhood. More employees does not make you more of a man (or woman as the case may be).

9. You don’t need business development people. If you’re successful, companies will come to you. The deals will still be distractions and not worth doing, but at least you’re not spending any effort trying to get them.

10. You have to be wrong in the head to start a company. But we have all the fun.

11. Starting a company will teach you what it’s like to be a manic depressive. They, at least, can take medication.

12. Your startup isn’t succeeding? You have two options: go home with your tail between your legs or do something about it. What’s it going to be?

13. If you don’t pay attention to your competition, they will turn out to be geniuses and will crush you. If you do pay attention to them, they will turn out to be idiots and you will have wasted your time. Which would you prefer?

14. Startups are not a democracy. Want a democracy? Go run for class president, Bueller.

15. You’re doing a web app, right? This isn’t the 1980s. Your crummy, half-assed web app will still be more successful than your competitor’s most polished software application.

Ok, so maybe a couple of the points are a little goofy, but in general it fits our M.O., especially 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9. We’re just 3 people (2 of whom are n00bz!) without any funding (yet!), trying to realize this fine idea that probably countless other people have had.

In the spirit of #2 and #7, we’re trying hard to get Sparkker out there about a week from now. It may not be the most polished web app ever written; every pixel may not line up perfectly; and you may get an occasional error message (hope not.) But, it should work and should help people meet people better. And, we hope to keep learning from whoever’s using it to keep improving it.

We could have taken the time to raise the big bucks, to hire a big team, to polish all the rough edges. But, then you wouldn’t have Sparkker for a few more months. (Though you probably would have some other similar service before then.) And then we wouldn’t be able to learn and improve on it for a couple more months, etc.

We hope you’ll appreciate our trying to get it out sooner rather than later, and we hope you’ll let us know if something doesn’t feel quite right!

Peter
Chief Nephologist & Code Monkey

Posted in About Sparkker, Startups | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Why Use Sparkker?

Posted by Adam on November 5, 2007

We at Sparkker see a vast disconnect in the way that people meet others in real life and the way they do it on the internet. And this is a problem.

A traditional online dating site has you create an individual profile and then go browsing for other individuals that seem appealing for one reason or another. Maybe they have a hot photo, maybe they also love to play kanasta, whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that you see one or more traits that you like and so you plan a date. This is not the way that meeting people works in real life.

Consider the following scenario:

You enter a crowded bar alone. Like yourself, this place is filled with hundreds of singles walking around scoping everyone else out. You find someone who looks alright, start talking to him/her and decide to plan a date.

How many times has this happened to you?

Twice? I hope not.

Once? Come on.

Zero times?! Yeah same here. It just doesn’t happen. That’s not the way people behave. And if you do behave that way, I’m assuming you live on some strange island colony? Nudists? Swingers? Swudies?

Ok now try out this scenario:

You and your three best friends are out at a bar. You’re having a great time because, well duh, you’re with your three best friends! You spot a group of four members of the opposite sex (or same sex as the case may be) who also seem to be having a good time. The two groups strike up a little conversation, realize that they have a lot in common and decide to hang out in groups again the following weekend.

And how many times has this one happened to you?

A bunch? I’d venture to say the answer is yes.

This is the natural way. We enjoy hanging out in packs. We meet other people in packs. We’re like wolves, only with less hair and ferocity. Usually.

If you’ve read this far you’re probably thinking, “man I’ve been reading for so long that I could really go for a pita pocket right about now”. But more importantly you’re probably wondering, “OK I get it, Sparkker is a more natural way to meet people. So what?”

So what? So what you ask, my shwarma-loving friend? Here’s what:

Let’s look back at those two scenarios above.

Which one seems more awkward? The single soul wandering aimlessly into other singles, you say.

I agree.

Which one seems safer? The groups of friends meeting more groups of friends, you say.

I totally agree!

Which one looks like an altogether awesome time? The groups of course silly goose, you say.

Wow, we’re like totally on the same wavelength today!

So there you have it ladies and germs. Our mission at Sparkker is to bring the process of meeting new people back to the way it’s done in the real world and away from the contrived mechanism fabricated by the big online dating conglomerates. Wow that sentence tired me out! The bottom line is that Sparkker is better because it’s more natural. And more natural is better because it’s less awkward, safer, and so much more fun!

So finish your sandwich and get out into the real world with your friends and meet some new people!

Adam

Posted in About Sparkker | 2 Comments »