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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.

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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)

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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.”

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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

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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 »

Sparkker’s extra K

Posted by Peter on November 2, 2007

Before we get into what Sparkker will actually do and what what we’re doing to get it there, a little more obsessing about the name….

Matt M. said to me, “I actually prefer Sparkker with the extra k.” I agree! (And so does Dan. Adam seems not so sure– he’s still hung up on Ignighter and ElMixer.)

That extra K gives Sparkker an extra pow, an extra kick. (You’ll note that “kick” already has two Ks.) That extra K makes it stand out more than Sparker with one K ever could. Take a good look at one-K Sparker. It looks kinda sad and flavorless; it’s missing something.  Our extra K gives us an edge.

I predicted that Sparkker would start a trend of cheap name knock-offs with extra Ks, as Flickr did by dropping an E. Well, I checked, expecting lots of available domains with extra Ks: parkker.com – taken; bookker.com – taken; markker.com – taken; fuckker.com – taken. Even crackker.com is taken. So maybe *we* are the cheap knock-offs, but I still prefer that extra K.

A couple people have suggested that some day, if we’ve made it, we can buy the one-K sparker.com domain. (It’s currently owned by one S. Parker Hardware of Englewood, NJ.) I’d rather spend the money on a party–to celebrate that second, orange K–or on months of burritos.

Peter

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Inaugural Sparkker/Ignighter/Sparkker Post

Posted by Adam on October 30, 2007

Hey friends,

Welcome to the inaugural Sparkker.com post. As some of you may know, Sparkker has been in development for a few months now and we’re quickly approaching the launch. We actually wanted to start blogging sooner because we know how interested all of you are in reading about the minutiae of our daily working lives (for all of you on the edge of your seats, I brought my own ginger tea to have after lunch, Dan is starting to feel like he’s getting a cold, and Peter is wearing that green v-neck, you know, the one he wears that makes his eyes pop), but we couldn’t start because until recently, we didn’t have a name! We’ve been workking (I swear I just accidentally typed working with an extra “k”, but decided to leave it for subliminal brand marketing purposes. Maybe from now on I should always give my k’s a k companion…) on this application since May and only now do we have a finalized name, Sparkker.

These months of struggle to find a name have been particularly trying for me. I have a personal connection to this struggle, not only can I sympathize (feel compassion for) with how our application must have been feeling, but I can empathize (actually know what it’s like to walk in its website-y shoes). You see, and this is a true story, when I was born, my parents didn’t give me a name right away either. For three days they couldn’t thinkk of anything to call me, but Baby #1. Being the only child at that point, I still to this day don’t understand why they felt the need to clarify me as #1. But I digress. For three long days I survived as Baby #1 until, seemingly on a whim, my parents decided to name me Jared. Jared Sachs. Seems like a reasonable enough name. At that point I imagine Baby #1 would have been happy with just about any name that didn’t include a numeral or punctuation. But Jared wouldn’t last long. It was only another day that passed before they told my Mommom Naomi the name. “Jared? Jared?! He’s not a Jared!” (now that I look at it, Jared with the exclamation point – Jared! – is a pretty cool name on its own, I wonder if my punctuation loving parents ever considered it…) But without Mommom’s approval, no name stood a chance.

Fast forward two months.

After nearly 60 days of baby-vagabond name hopping – I was like a homeless guy going from Starbucks to Starbucks – my parents (read: Naomi) finally landed on Adam and the name stuckk. It’s not a terrible name either. I look like an Adam. I feel like an Adam. And more importantly, the name still references the first one I ever had, Baby #1.

I know what it’s like to walk the streets as a baby with no identity, unable to introduce myself, completely nameless. I was determined to give my baby, Website #1, a better life. Finding a name was of the utmost importance.

Back to Sparkker.

Deciding on a name means a lot. For one, it was getting very frustrating to finish explaining the idea for the app to friends and family and then get hit with the inevitable, “Good idea, what’s it called?”. Also, while we hope to successfully create a new definition for the word within the minds of our users, there is no denying that we will forever be somewhat defined by the name we chose.

The process of choosing a name was an interesting one to say the least. It consisted of about a month of brainstorming, asking friends and family for advice, and reading branding books (thanks for the all homework Peter. NOT!) But we were starting to get desperate. The clockk was tickking and we really needed to finalize something so that we could begin to figure out our logo and complete our brand. Finally we settled on our two favorite names of the moment – Sparkker and Ignighter – and decided to do some polling. We asked a number of our close friends (mostly the slackers who IM and Gchat from work all day) and tallied the results in a spreadsheet document that included the following fields: Name, Age, Gender, Name Preference, Reason.

The results were pretty interesting. Of the 12 guys we polled, 8 of them liked Ignighter and 4 liked Sparkker. The reasons varied slightly, but for the most part, guys liked Ignighter better because it seemed to give a “better description of the purpose of the site”. For the 12 girls, the numbers were actually reversed. 8 of them preferred Sparkker to the 4 who liked Ignighter. The common reason for the preference, “Sparkker looks and sounds better”. As much as we wanted to please everybody, we had to agreed that the ladies were the ones you didn’t want to piss off. I mean that’s common knowledge right? So after months of namelessness, we were very excited to settle on what we think is a great name. And in case you were wondering, here’s Mommom Naomi’s reaction: “Ignighter?! What’s Ignighter?! Sparkker is sooo much better Adly.”

The application is set to launch on Facebook a little before Thankksgiving. Until then, keep checking in for updates on our blog.

Just for fun, below is a list of some of the names we threw around, but didn’t end up going with. We implore you not to email us and say, “oh you should’ve gone with X” because we’re still a little too emotionally fragile for that kind of thing.

smisher, ignighter, groupfuser, mingleden, vivver, mixxem, quidbroho, she_ugly_she_21, cotery, drinktime, cheersall, cheersiepoo, letsmeetthem, rightsocial, elmixer.

That’s 15 of a list of approximately 50 that we had going by the end. Bottom line, if you’re working on a startup and need some naming assistance… we’re probably not the guys you want to askk!

Adam

Sparkker Partner and Chief Friend Maker

Posted in About Sparkker | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »