Amanda McGrew – Founder of Playoff Dating App – Small Business Show Episode 282

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We love learning about things we know nothing about. With both of your hosts having been with their spouses for decades, the world of online dating is a mystery to us. And while that’s a good thing for us, it seems like online dating apps have taken over the world of starting new relationships. Do you agree? Join us today as we meet Amanda McGrew, Founder of the Playoff Dating App that specializes in connecting athletes together for a lifetime of bliss – at least that’s the plan. We are looking forward to learning about the online dating scene, the App development process, and all about running a Small Business in this space.

If you enjoyed this episode, please take a few moments to leave us a review – it helps us bring you more great content like this!

 

Shannon Jean  0:00

Greetings, everybody. Today we get to talk about dating something we know nothing about, at least not in today’s or not anymore. Yeah, that’s a good I think that’s a good thing or you know, a great thing. Very happy to not have to know about it. And I, the only thing I know about it is very different than when we were young men in the dating scene. That is true. Yeah, yeah. And we have an awesome guest that has created a dating app with a specific market niche that is

 

Dave Hamilton  1:00

There, you can tell that that, you know, she’s got a good path for success. There’s no guarantee for success. Right? Sure better, but that that is a necessary or at least a very, very helpful component of success. And she’s got several others that we kind of go through and identify in there. Throughout. But yeah, she is wise beyond her years. I mean, I don’t know how old she is. So maybe maybe that comment doesn’t mean anything. But, but she really has the wisdom. She is wise beyond a first time business owner. I will say that, that that’s really what I mean here. Well, and if Yeah, and it’s really worth listening to because that enthusiasm, the authenticity, the passion, it’s, it’s, you need that in your business, whether you’re pitching to investors, like, like Amanda was talking was talking about today in the show, or you’re pitching to your clients, you know, when I can no different Yeah, I can remember when I was doing landscape construction as a college kid, having to go into the living room, you know, and, you know, talk to talk and pitch the thing on a big plan and you

 

Another example of that, at least, hopefully, is how enthusiastic I am about PDF pen and I’m very happy that they are sponsored this week. pdf pen is an app that I don’t know how I would get my business done without it. You know, PDFs are something we use all the time. And I’m constantly having to send different things to people even taking existing PDFs recently, I had to send some tax documents for a loan and this that and the other thing, and I didn’t want to be sending people

 

PDFs of our tax returns that had my social security number in it like the the bank, the lender already has that like they, whatever they need that’s there, they just want to see the financials. And but I needed to share my tax return which I have as a PDF Well, good news, PDF pen, and PDF pen pro 12 are right there to go through, find all those instances of my social security number and redact them in one fell swoop. So I didn’t have to like go through and figure out how to block it out or anything. It just does it. It’s built in. It’s not the only thing that’s built in. There’s lots of things built in. But this is the kind of thing that you can do with PDF pen. You get to really manipulate PDFs and make them work for you. pdf pen 12 includes stationery with new paper colors, along with line and grid options for custom page designs. They’ve got a cool magnifier window that will zoom in on wherever your mouse pointer is in a dock.

 

And even moves across open documents without any mouse clicks. That’s pretty magical If you ask me, and you can customize compression settings for more control over the file size of the PDFs that you’re sending out. We’ve talked about it before. It’s got DocuSign support built in for digitally signing PDFs PDF pen for Mac supports Mac OS, Catalina and PDF pen for iPad and iPhone. Yeah, it’s available for your iPad and your iPhone supports iOS 13 and Apple Pencil. You’ve got to go check it out. Go to smile software comm slash podcast. That’s where you’re going to learn more about all of this. And of course, our thanks to smile and PDF pen for sponsoring this episode. He is Shannon gene. I am Dave Hamilton and this is the Small Business show.

 

Amanda McGrew  4:50

Yeah, I think there’s been a lot of adjustments since the beginning and it’s kind of it’s kind of just moving and changing on the fly a little bit. I think originally I thought okay, I’m just going to get

 

As many athlete influencers as I can, and you know, I’m going to use my personal network to find as many, you know, professional athletes, anybody with thousands and thousands of followers and I want to see who I can get to post about it and how much it will cost. And I was pretty much ready to kind of spend my savings doing that. And in the first probably like three or four months, I realized that that wasn’t going to be as as you know, profitable or as exciting as I thought it was going to be. It wasn’t going to give have the same effect that I think some businesses can have, because a lot of the target audience is not like if you take LeBron James, for example, and he posts about playoff today. Well, that would be amazing. There’s also millions of people following him who are not athletes.

 

Shannon Jean  5:58

Hey Dave, I’m really excited.

 

Because today we’re going to talk about two things that I know absolutely nothing about. The first one is dating. And the second one is having a business, an app based business. So I think it’s gonna be great. I don’t know what I know. I don’t help help with a former, but maybe the latter. Thank goodness. We don’t need help with the former. But But yes, yeah, yeah, the ladder the ladder would be good for both of us. I have I have apps with some of my businesses but but not an app based business. So yeah, this is good. This is the only thing I really know about dating now, at least I think I know is that it’s, it seems like online dating apps have really taken over, you know that that seems to be the way of starting new relationships. We’re going to find that if that’s true shortly. So joining us today, we get to meet Amanda McGrew, founder of the playoff dating app, and that this app specializes in connecting athletes together for a lifetime of bliss. That’s the plan anyway, so I’m looking forward to learning about both these things, the online dating scene and also Amanda’s journey as a small business owner and

 

This space. So Amanda, we’re so glad you’re joining us today.

 

Amanda McGrew  7:02

Thank you very much. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

 

Shannon Jean  7:06

Yeah, it’s cool. I’m excited to learn too. So let’s talk about some background. Before we talk about the playoff dating app. So reading about you and everything, I get the sense that, you know, being an athlete is a really huge part a core part of who you are. And one of the things that that I’ve read that I really that stuck me stuck with me was, you said on your website, you know, my athletic career has been a major influence in the way I handled problems and make decisions. And I thought that was really cool and unique, and especially as small business owners because we constantly solve problems and we have to make decisions all the time. Tell us more about that philosophy, how it’s impacted you as a small business owner.

 

Amanda McGrew  7:49

Yeah, I think honestly, most athletes who competed at a high level would probably agree that their authentic experience has kind of shaped everything about them. You know, it shapes the way I form relationships. So

 

I interact with people, the way I handle adversity, kind of like top to bottom throughout my life. And I know I know what you’re we’re always taught, you know, don’t let your athletic career completely define you, but it also but I also do want to, you know, accept and acknowledge that it is such an important piece that it may not be everything but it’s really really valuable to me. Also, because most athletes were not able to get the same type of potentially like business business experience or, you know, internship experience while they were playing college. But I felt like I was kind of thrust into the workforce without really knowing what I was doing or what I wanted to do. You know, playing college was amazing but in my from my aspect, it was I was always like, that was what I wanted my career to be I wanted and you know, no one’s really wanting to shoot anybody down and say listen to my BA, either a you’re not going to be a professional basketball player or be if you are you’re not going to get rich doing it. So kind of like this reality check of like, you’re gonna need to figure something else out and and all of the intangible

 

qualities that I learned playing sports, lent lends itself directly to being an entrepreneur, you know, it was kind of, like the ability to be on a team, the ability to lead people the ability to, you know, handle adversity and like, like you said, make those difficult decisions. It’s stuff that I’ve always done, but never really knew I was learning how to do, you know, I didn’t really realize that those were the qualities I would need throughout the rest of my life. And it’s, you know, just come in so handy, especially because in my mind, there’s really nothing like sports to kind of put you in a pressure situation and kind of experience these highs and lows. And in such, like, an immediate timeframe. You can, you know, in one minute, you could feel like you’re on top of the world and, you know, two plays later, you could be like losing the game for your team. And it’s like, you know, the devastating thing ever. So it’s kind of, you know, a microcosm of life really. So I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be able to have had that athletic experience because I truly feel like it’s shaped everything about me. Well, that that you know, immediate shift that you get going from a super high

 

Dave Hamilton  9:59

Do a super load. That’s the, to me, that’s a hugely valuable part there. Because, you know, it puts it all in perspective, like, you know, life isn’t highs and lows. Life is what happens, you know, the rest of the time. And, and, and the highs and lows just sort of happen. And that’s true in business too. Right? Right. You have your highs, you have your lows, but but really, you grind it out every day. And you will be able to prepare for that, you know, it’s like, you’re kind of set on the straight, narrow path. You’re like, all right, things are good things are good, things are good. And all of a sudden, they’re not, you know, and you don’t even know. Okay, now what do I do, but you got to kind of grit your teeth and figure out how to get through it. That’s it.

 

Shannon Jean  10:37

Yeah. That’s so cool. That that ability to persevere through that adversity over and over again, you know, will certainly serve you well. That’s for sure.

 

Yeah, yeah. Well, so we’d like to, you know, we always like talking about the transition from you know, employee to employer because we have a lot of aspirational business owners that listen to this to the show. So what what really inspired you to take action and to start the playoff dating app?

 

Amanda McGrew  11:07

Well, I will say I’m actually still an employee and an employer, which I find to be kind of exciting. I work full time I teach PE and I coach basketball. I’ve been doing that for the past nine years now. And I was coaching high school basketball, which kind of in and of itself was its own full time job. I was coaching a very competitive team and we were really good and winning state championships and sending girls off to playing college. And then once I took a break from that, I realized, okay, I’ve got some more free time, which I think everybody else would find is like their normal free time, like a night in a weekend. And I realized, oh my god, I gotta do something like what else am I can’t just sit at home and like workout all day, like I I feel like I needed to kind of do something. And that was really when online dating and really kind of taken over like you guys mentioned earlier, it’s kind of become the way of the world and I wasn’t really good at it. I didn’t really enjoy you know,

 

Getting on there and having these seemingly superficial conversations with people and not really being able to navigate that world in a in a seamless way. And so I spent my nights and weekends, you know, researching if there was an app for athletes, eventually I realized there was, all these niche apps started popping up. There was a there was a dating app for everybody, you know, vegans, farmers, black people, Jewish people, Christians, whoever. And I was like, Well, I don’t really identify with any of these groups. And I just thought if I had to identify with one group of people, who would it be? And that answer came immediately for me as athletes, you know, it was just something that’s always been a part of who I am. So once I really dug down, I was like, wow, I can spend this free time that I have, you know, creating this, this thing and it was really just wanting to create what I wish existed in the world, you know, and I think that’s what made it seem like not so much like work and much more like it was a passion because I knew if this gets successful, selfishly, I get to benefit from this, you know, like, yeah, this is potentially going to help me and everyone kind of laughs and

 

No, it’s like, Oh, are you on the app? And I’m like, I’m using number one like I am.

 

I this is definitely for me. No, that’s, that’s a good way. It’s not the only way to start a business for sure. But it is a great way to do it, especially if it’s one in your scenario where you’ve got other things going on in your life that you have to attend to. Right. It’s not like you can just dive in and do this. Although if you have to dive in having building something that you want, scratching your own itch is is a good way to do it. Because you know, what, what you would want out of your product and so at least at least there’s that right, I know how to drive the ship. Yeah. And it made me kind of get home from practice at five or 6pm and want to do it, you know, it made me want to send the emails and you know, work on the you know, work on finding a developer or finding a marketing person or just like any help I needed, it made me want to send those emails and start reaching out because it was so exciting to me. The end result was so exciting for me to get to that. I was like, I couldn’t wait to

 

Shannon Jean  0:32

just really unique. And she has a really powerful message and I’m really excited to share with you

 

Dave Hamilton  0:38

yeah, and and just listen, you’ll hear this if I’m sure we’ll talk about this at the end. But But as you’re listening, pay attention to how driven she is and how enthusiastic she is about her business. The need for her product, how the products works like that is the key right here.

 

Shannon Jean  2:00

You know, you’re creating this vision for these people that are going to spend, you know, 10s of thousands of dollars with you. And I can remember doing it as a kid and thinking, Man, I can’t believe that these people are writing me this check, but it is about sharing that enthusiasm getting other people to pick up on it. And I think Amanda does a great job. Yeah,

 

Dave Hamilton  2:18

enthusiasm is infectious. And, and, and she is a great example of that.

 

Amanda McGrew  14:00

Keep pushing towards it.

 

Dave Hamilton  14:01

So you had to learn how to delegate right out of the gate. You can correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you’re not a marketing person, nor are you a developer just based on what you just said.

 

Amanda McGrew  14:12

No, absolutely. It was. Yeah, go ahead.

 

Dave Hamilton  14:15

No, that no, that I want to hear more about that. Because that learning to delegate is something that’s very difficult for most entrepreneurs. we wind up just being the people that feel like we can do it all ourselves. Yeah. And sometimes you have to, but long term, it doesn’t usually work. So you you had this sort of leg up in the beginning.

 

Amanda McGrew  14:35

Yeah. And I think honestly, I think I tell people all the time, I think one of my biggest assets is knowing what I don’t know you know, being fully aware that there are certain parts of this that I’m going to have no idea about and I would love to learn out and I would love to develop in those areas but I am not have this you know, mindset that like I got it. Don’t worry, don’t worry about me. I’ll do this myself. I know that there are so many more, you know, people out there that are smarter than me and more powerful than me and more successful than me and have all this experience that like, I can’t wait to dive into that and to get, you know, to get those responses from people and you know, reach out send messages, send emails and, you know, really tap into people’s brains and, and figure out why they are so as successful as they are, and what’s made them kind of get to that top of that mountain. And, you know, love it up there. You know, I feel like that is so important. So yeah, I think delegating the work out that the tech side was a no brainer, because I just don’t have that background. And it’s and it’s so specific that like, there was no way I was going to be able to do that on my own. So immediately once I knew the idea that I wanted to kind of create it was really just about finding somebody who I trusted and whose quote matched even remotely in the ballpark of what I was able to spend to be able to have someone developed the app but you know, even that was tricky because I had to tap into my resources of, you know, I had it was like a dad of a former basketball player of mine. Who’s a software engineer. And he kind of acted as a mentor at that point. Because I mean, I could have looked at 100 resumes of, you know, web developers or app developers, and I would have had no idea how to separate one from the next. You know, I don’t know, I didn’t know the verbiage. I didn’t know any of the certifications that they had. So it was really going in blind for sure. So having this mentor there with me to kind of say, all right, I will vet all these people’s resumes. And I’ll give you back the resumes of the people who technically can do what you need them to do. And then you can start interviewing, based on you know, a behavioral interview and just decide who you think you’d work with best, whose quote is best for you. And you know, you can go from there, but being able to have that, that person with me to say, like, Alright, this person on paper can do what you need, and like it, you know, his examples and his portfolio looks great. And all those things that was like invaluable for me, you know, I don’t even know if I would have been able to move past that without him. That’s Yeah,

 

Dave Hamilton  16:56

yeah. What’s there so

 

Shannon Jean  16:57

along, I want Because I don’t think you can put too fine a point on this kind of the action that you took to convert this, oh, wouldn’t it be cool or maybe I could create this thing as an opportunity. But, you know, it is a ton of work to get things going. And then we talk on the show about, at some point in the process, it starts motivating you, instead of you having to pound forward to make it happen. It sounds like that might have happened with you based on the comment you said, you know, hey, it got me get home quick so I can get things going. Did you find that happened during the process?

 

Amanda McGrew  17:31

Definitely. And I think it was really like getting positive feedback from people, especially because you know, as an athlete, so much of my personal network when I was in college and even beyond has been made up of other athletes. So I’m as I’m reaching out to friends, letting them know what I want to do, whether they’re single or not hearing their feedback of like, Oh my god, duh, why doesn’t that exist? Of course, like that’s, that’s a no brainer. And hearing that kind of positive feedback is like, oh, man, do you really got to do this. Now, you know, Also you know putting it out into the world or sending it to as in a text message to a friend is one thing, but like once I kind of I think one day it was like in July I think 2017 I put it on my Facebook and maybe even Instagram and I said like, here’s what I’m going to do coming in a few months and it was like that was all I needed to like kick me in the ass a little bit I was like well now you’ve told the world you’re gonna do it. You don’t do it now you’re screwed you know like and to me like that was my reputation on the line and it was like you said you were gonna do it now you have to do it. And that was really all I needed to like really kick it into high gear and like take it to the next level.

 

Shannon Jean  18:37

Yeah, that’s that’s a great system because you you put it out there you could have just hunkered down and not said anything. I’ve been there before where you know you get nervous about telling people about what really are going I always say, you know, it’s better to tell people what you did then what you’re going to do. Yeah. Which is great when it when you can do it, but when having that your reputation at stake and your credibility, because you can only say that once or twice. And if you don’t do it, people can be like, Oh, yeah, you’ve talked about this thing before and that and so, yeah, that’s a great, great way to to get things going. I love it.

 

Amanda McGrew  19:13

Yeah.

 

Shannon Jean  19:14

So this is your first business. What surprised you the most about after you jumped in? You know, you looked like you found a mentor, you got things going, what what did you learn as a brand new business owner that you just had no idea about?

 

Amanda McGrew  19:31

I think most importantly, that like the marketing of something and kind of reaching out to your target audience would not be as easy as I thought it would be. Either. That probably sounds totally silly, but

 

Shannon Jean  19:42

no, no, it doesn’t. Yeah,

 

Amanda McGrew  19:43

you know, I think I just thought, Okay, you’ve grown up around athletes your whole life, you know, hundreds if not thousands of them. Like how hard could that be like you just put it on you’re like, you reach out to them. They reach out to their people and it’s like it’s done and you know, not to dumb it down so much, but I thought it You know, in my mind, and with the feedback I’ve been getting from fellow athletes, I thought, okay, it’s only a matter of time before this just goes viral, you know what I mean? Like, it’s just, it’s gonna be great. And I’m glad I had that mentality because had I not, I probably would have, like you said, it’s a little more, you’re a little more fearful to, you know, jump in, and I probably would have pulled the reins back a little more. And, you know, not been so gung ho about it. But I think I, and even to this day, I am so convinced that it’s like, oh, it’s just a matter of getting to that tipping point. Like, once it hits a tipping point, it’s like, it’s gonna bust wide open. You know what I mean? And I think it’s taken a little bit longer in my mind to get there. But I’m reminded every day that it’s like, there’s never been a day since I launched the app. It was December 10 to 2017. There’s never been a day since then, that nobody has signed up. There’s always somebody signing up. And I’m like, and I kind of look at that. And I’m like, Oh, yeah, that’s cool. And friends remind me like, no, that’s amazing. Amanda. Like, there’s people out there who have apps that like has never had a download, you know, like, and I’m like, yeah, you You know what, you’re right. That is that is pretty cool. So I think, you know, I was really just surprised that like, having it reached the masses was not as easy as it’s made to seem sometimes, you know, sometimes you you see apps or you know, even a tweet goes viral and you’re like, What the hell was so special about that tweet that made it, you know, thousands of views or whatever. So I think that kind of shocked me a little bit.

 

Shannon Jean  21:22

Yeah, I could, I could see that. And I think, having owned a bunch of businesses, that’s one of the things that we think about when someone comes to me says, Hey, I want to do this, don’t do that. It’s okay. It is a good idea. It’s a good product, and it you know, there’s some opportunity here, but how are you going to get that message out there? You know, cuz, right, you know, just coming out there and having the great widget or whatever it is, you got to get the word out, you know, yeah, critically, critically important. Now, so, go ahead. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. And so how do you market the app? I mean, what what’s been your strategy if you’ve ever had to adjust and And things how does it work?

 

Amanda McGrew  22:01

Yeah, I think there’s been a lot of adjustments since the beginning. And it’s kind of it’s kind of just moving and changing on the fly a little bit. I think Originally, I thought, okay, I’m just going to get as many athlete influencers as I can. And you know, I’m going to use my personal network to find as many, you know, professional athletes, anybody with thousands and thousands of followers, and I’m going to see who I can get to post about it, and how much it will cost and I was pretty much ready to kind of spend my savings doing that. And in the first probably like three or four months, I realized that that wasn’t going to be as as you know, profitable or as, you know, exciting as I thought it was going to be, it wasn’t going to give have the same effect that I think some businesses can have, because a lot of the target audience is not like if you take LeBron James, for example, and he posts about playoff today. Well, that would be amazing. There’s also millions of people following him who are not athletes. So it wasn’t like a direct like it wasn’t directly getting me you know that same amount of customers or optim app downloads. As I say something else, it’s available to everybody. So the way playoff works is every athlete has to erver user has to have competed at the college level or beyond junior college level or beyond. And they have to prove it on the internet. So they’re submitting a link to their athletic bio. So it the influencer route was difficult for me because I swore that was going to be the way it was gonna work. And, you know, it took trial and error and you know, some wasted money figuring out that, you know, okay, a lot of men who are influencers or who are athlete influencers, a lot of their followers are not fellow athletes, you know, a lot of their followers are fan. Yeah. And, you know, for female athlete influencers, a lot of their followers are female athletes, you know, peers, and a lot of male athletes follow them too. So the female athletes were definitely much more valuable than the men in terms of them posting about it. But even though that was like a that was not a foolproof system, you know, it was like there were definitely some people out there. There was like, they had, you know, whether it’s like bots, following them or whatever, it just didn’t translate into the same number of downloads that I thought it would. But, but honestly, most of the marketing has been on social media. I’ve since then since those first few months, I’ve spent so little on marketing. It’s been, you know, grassroots like ground and pound. I’ve been on LinkedIn. I’ve been on Instagram. I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve been on Facebook, and just Yeah, exactly, you know, like messaging people who I think would think it’s a good idea. You know, trying to find athletes who would like to who want to invest fine athletes who want to post about it, who want to get involved, maybe other athletes who have their own podcast and want to kind of share about it. And just kind of getting the word spread that way. So but definitely looking to get to the next level in terms of getting funding and then the, the number I know this wasn’t part of the question, but the number one goal is to get it to the Olympic Village next summer in Tokyo. So there will definitely be a massive marketing campaign around that. So yeah, that’s Yeah, that’s really smart. Yeah.

 

Shannon Jean  25:02

Do you check those downloads every day?

 

Amanda McGrew  25:04

Every day? I totally do that. friends make fun of me. Like, I’ll go to the beach. And I’m like, I’ve got like, I’ve got like my laptop in my bag. And I’m like, I just need to see, I just need to check. And they’re like, we’re only here for like, a couple hours. I’m like, but you never know. You never know. I’m like, What if it goes viral five minutes ago, I need to know that.

 

Shannon Jean  25:22

You know, it’s a it’s a motivator to

 

Amanda McGrew  25:24

Yeah, drive. It’s like a healthy obsession, I think.

 

Shannon Jean  25:28

Yeah, I do too. Because even, you know, like Dave and I, we just we recently published a book all about mistakes in small businesses, and it’s the same thing I always check. And even if there’s only a few sales, at least I look, okay, hey, we’re, you know, we’re making some progress, right, you know, gonna get this thing going. And as business owners, it’s up to us to figure out what motivates us what drives us because rarely are people going to come up and pat you on the back. Right,

 

Amanda McGrew  25:55

right, right. Absolutely. Yeah.

 

Dave Hamilton  25:58

And which kind of leads You know, there’s no boss to pat you on the back, you get yourself. Yeah.

 

Shannon Jean  26:04

So I mean, Has everybody around you people been, you know, pretty supportive when you started the business and, you know, go for it. Yeah, it’s gonna work, you know, you know, that kind of thing, or did you kind of have to win over their support?

 

Amanda McGrew  26:18

I think everybody was incredibly supportive of the idea. Because it all it’s like I said, it seemed like a no brainer to them. They’re like, I’m surprised that doesn’t exist. But I think there was some hesitation in like, Okay, are you sure you want to spend that much money doing that? Like, I know, you’ve saved a lot of your own money, but like, okay, like, almost in the sense of like, wanting us leave that to somebody else. big risk. Yeah. And not in a way, like we don’t believe in you. But like, make sure you’ve thought this through, you know what I mean? Make sure you and you know, when I remember when I told my parents, they were super supportive of it. And I think as we got closer to like, Okay, so now I’m like literally writing a check to this developer. I’m like, okay, whoa, I was So let’s talk about this one more time. And just kind of extra, like, there’s no competitors, right? There’s literally nothing else out there like this. You’re sure like you’re 1,000% Sure. And I’m like, No, there’s nothing. You know, there’s, there’s app and everybody always, you know, I was making my pitch deck, you know, a year or two ago, and everyone’s great, you gotta have a page about the competitors. And I’m like, but there aren’t any. And they’re like, well, you gotta show that and I’m like, well, there’s just like, there’s dating apps for people who like fitness and like working out but those are two different people like though like competitive athletes who have played the colors over beyond are not those type of people like it’s a different thing. And so I just kind of like you know, in that in that screen on my pitch deck, I just make it very clear that they don’t verify anyone’s athletic level of athletic competition or what they’ve done and that it’s like playoff really is out right now stands alone, you know, which to me I think is super exciting. But also it makes it very clear that like playoff has to lead the way in that sense. playoff is going to be the pioneer, which I couldn’t be more excited about. But I’m also I also take it very seriously in the sense that like, it needs to do what it’s supposed to do for the people it’s meant to work for. How have

 

Dave Hamilton  28:11

you pitched this to any like VCs yet? And if so, how do they respond to a page that says, We have no competition? Yeah, I’ve done that. And it, you often get people laugh at you like, oh, you’re wrong. That might not be wrong, though.

 

Amanda McGrew  28:27

Right, right. I think so. I haven’t pitched directly to VCs yet. That is I’m trying to raise funding now. So that is super exciting to me to be able to do. I think the one thing that would make that conversation a little less stressful, for me, at least, is that I am the target demographic, you know, like I can say directly to the point about like, why this would be successful. And why these are the three you know, online dating apps that I’ve listed here. Have no are in no way competitive with playoff, you know, yes, they’re out there. And yes, I’m sure they have users and I’m yesterday. I’m sure they’re very successful. And I’m sure that people on there love it and have found people that they are going to be with forever. But those are not the same types of people that I am, you know, selling playoff to. So knowing that knowing that they’re kind of in the same world and in the same industry, but definitely not reaching out to we’re definitely not trying to steal users from the other because they’re not the same people.

 

Shannon Jean  29:21

Sure. You can never get married. Wait till you get your exit.

 

Amanda McGrew  29:33

Or I’m like success story number one.

 

Shannon Jean  29:36

I like I like the word. Oracle, you know, then you’re dialed in. Yeah, that’s really good. Okay, good. Okay, so even though it’s your first business, you’re just getting started. I love it. I really love your enthusiasm. You know, we talked about mistakes on this show. Because Dave and I went up I’m sure I’ve made more than Dave had. So

 

Dave Hamilton  29:58

I don’t know about that.

 

Shannon Jean  29:59

Yeah, cuz he Teach us they teach us so much. And you know, especially when you look back on them, you’re like, oh, man, you know, and now it changes your habits, you know, right. Is there something that you did or something that happened, would you that you would say is your best mistake that stuck with you and taught you a valuable lesson as you built this business?

 

Amanda McGrew  30:15

I would say, the social media, the social media has been my nemesis since the beginning. I am one of those people who like doesn’t even use my own personal Instagram. Like I’m just not a fan of like, posting pictures of my meals and like posting pictures of what I’m doing every day. I’m just not good at it. I don’t think to myself, Oh, I gotta get my phone out and start taking pictures. So so the social media for playoff was really really really difficult for me, it was like, Oh my god, I got to post something today. I got to make sure people like it. I got to find what are the right hashtags? What do I do? So eventually, I said, You know what, forget it. I’m just gonna pay a company you know, a few hundred bucks a month to just kind of like come up with content to post and and post you know, a few times a week and Have it kind of sustained that way. So I hired this company and I don’t remember the name of the company, this was like two years ago. And they were I think it was like three or 400 bucks a month. And I was like, Alright, this is manageable for a little while. So I can kind of take a break from this. And they were going to post like, they were going to make the the Instagram look a little bit more aesthetically pleasing. You know, it was like, Alright, we’re gonna have kind of like a vibe to it, you’ve got your logos and your colors everywhere, and it’s gonna look good and whatever. And I saw their first month’s worth of posts sent to me like in an email, like, here’s what we’re going to do. And I was like, Oh my god, it was like all stock photos of like models who are like not real athletes. And like, women like playing basketball with their hair down in the sports bra and like, you know, against the guy but this woman is clearly never played basketball in her life before. And I’m like, Oh my god, this is horrible. And I and I, my biggest mistake was letting them go for too much letting them do it for two months because I signed a contract and I was like, well, let’s just do it and see how it goes. It was so so bad I was and I think I just realized that like, playoff is is cool and playoff is important and valuable because of like the story playoff is important because like I’m an athlete playoff is important because not every athlete looks like a supermodel. Not every athlete has a six pack or is like super buff or a six, five and 250 you know like that’s not? Yeah, that’s great. And yeah, that’s how a lot of NFL and NBA and Major League Baseball players look but like that’s not how every athlete looks. And, you know, the while I would love to have you know, NFL and NBA and MLB players, you know, join playoff that’d be awesome. Those are not traditionally the people have a hard time dating, you know, like those like those are not the people who need to use online dating to find somebody who they want to be with. Now, obviously, I’m not turning those people away and I would love to market to those people. But when I think about like the real people who are going to benefit from this, it’s like the people like me, who played through high school played, you know, played a little bit beyond that and then got a job and was not surrounded by athletes anymore like we were on our college campus. You know, when I was in college, there’s four or 500 athletes on our campus. And those are the only people I hang out with, you know, you’re not and not because I want to exclude everybody else. But because I see down the natural part of your life. Yeah, I see them walking to and from study hall and the dining hall and the weight room and the training room and, you know, our academic advisors office in the gym, like, it’s all located in one space, you know, so it’s like, those are the only people I interact with, because that’s all the time I have in the day. And so I think, you know, being able to tell that story through social media and show real people and real athlete couples and, you know, an interview with somebody who’s a real athlete on a real college campus saying, Here’s why I think playoff is cool. And here’s why I can’t wait to meet other athletes near me or whatever, that has become so much more valuable. So knowing that, like, you know, the marketing, and the social media piece is so powerful because it was real, you know, so the moment I took that like authenticity away, it was like, Oh, this is so stupid. You know, people were Like, who are these people that you’re posting? And I’m like, I don’t know, I’m, I’m done with them. You know, it was like, very quickly, I was like, I have to erase all these and pretend it never happened.

 

Shannon Jean  34:09

That’s a great lesson that Yeah, and you can just hear in the way you describe it authenticity of what the, you know, what playoff is supposed to be. And what it represents is not these flashy pictures of this or that. So right.

 

Amanda McGrew  34:21

But that’s a great lesson.

 

Shannon Jean  34:23

So I want to talk about the app for a minute to about finding success in the App Store. I mean, what what have you learned about creating it? And then also, you know, getting it approved? Did you have any problems getting it approved, and then getting it noticed on that? Or that just, you know, gazillions of apps? How did that how does that work for you?

 

Amanda McGrew  34:45

So first of all, the approval process, I thought was like, okay, so we, I think it was July of 2017 that I signed the contract this developer, we were ready to go. We were going to launch it by November, November. December, it was a great, great this is like super quick. I know a lot of people who have like tried to create apps and it’s taken way longer. So I was really excited about it. I think we were ready to go by like August or I’m sorry, October 1. And we put our beta out there Apple approved the App Store approves the betas, like immediately they’re like, Oh, we don’t care cuz this isn’t live, you know, this isn’t like, yeah, you can test your baby all you want. And I thought, Okay, this is great. They approved it in like six hours. And then we started testing it, you know, we fixed all the bugs we need to fix. And then my developers like, All right, ready, we’re ready to go. We’re going to submit to the App Store. It took like two and a half months before it was approved to be live. And I I think that was like such a shocking moment to me that I was like, Oh, you have no control over this time frame. You know, like this is Apple is is so enormous and they care so little about you right now because you’re brand new, you’re nobody you know, and and so I was like, did

 

Dave Hamilton  35:55

they did they reject pieces of it? Is that what took so long or did they Just not get to it for Jo,

 

Amanda McGrew  36:01

they were rejecting like,

 

Dave Hamilton  36:05

they were engaged, just not

 

Amanda McGrew  36:06

happy. Yes, they were engaged. But they were also engaged like on their timeline, you know, it was kind of like worse. They respond to you in three to five business days. So like on the fifth business day, they’d respond to you. And then I respond like 30 minutes later with a new version. And then five more days later, they’d respond again, you know, so it was like,

 

Dave Hamilton  36:23

they were telling us similar story. Yeah, yeah.

 

Amanda McGrew  36:28

Yeah, so it’s like, and it was it was difficult for me, but I made my developer was like, Listen, I’ve done this before, you just got to kind of take a step back and and realize that everything like they were eager to get your beta out, but they didn’t, because they didn’t care because nobody was, you know, purchasing or downloading that app. Now that you want an app live in the App Store. They’re going to really focus on this and look at it with a fine tooth comb and like, be sure that this is something they want to put their name behind. So honestly, I don’t think two and a half months in the big scheme of things is you know, the longest anyone’s have had to wait But because the beta was approved so quickly, I think I was convinced that’s how it was gonna go. So the approval process was definitely difficult. I am not sure I have figured out how to, you know, get it to the top of people searches or, you know, figure out how for it to, like really be successful, especially because, you know, like I said, My demographic is so specific that I don’t even know, you know, I know, reviews mean, a lot. I know, I know, five stars mean a lot. And I know feedback means a lot. But I’m not sure. You know, if you put it at the top of somebody’s list, who types you know, types in playoff. I know, it’s like it’s at the top of top of that list. It’s right near like the college football playoff app or something, you know, so yeah, that’s a good thing. But I think, you know, in app downloads, it’s definitely I think I was reading something when I first launched playoff that was like 95% of apps have less than 1000 downloads total like and it’s like in their lifetime and so on. I think once I passed that, I was like, Oh my god, you’re really doing it. Like it’s really happening. People really want to be on this. And, you know, I started reaching out to almost everybody who downloaded, I would I would reach out to them and say, thanks so much for downloading, you know, unfortunately, we probably don’t have a ton of people for you to swipe through who are near you, depending on where you are in the world. But you know, I’m working on it. I promise I am. And I’m sure you have a huge network of athletes, yourself. So if you wouldn’t mind sharing this link, like I was able, and the feedback from that is like, amazing. People are like, Oh, I totally know that this is brand new. And I think this is amazing. I’ll send this to everybody. So it’s just kind of like, and then I get a lot of feedback that’s like, oh, you’re a fellow athlete. Like I’m down to support you, like I’m ready to, you know, whatever you need to do. We need to support each other. And I love the idea. And even somebody who was, you know, convinced themselves they were able to be an entrepreneur after playing a sport for 20 years or whatever. It’s like, yeah, I’m willing to do whatever they need to do, you know, for me to help them. So that has been incredibly encouraging. That’s really cool.

 

Shannon Jean  39:01

That’s great. So, you know, you’ve been able to really take action to make this stuff happen, which really kind of separates a lot of people that that just talk about it. Right. And we love that, you know, we always would encourage action over, you know, taking too long to plan and talking and talking, you know, so given your success getting the app, the app launched starting this business, is there one action item, you could tell our small business owner listeners, you know, that they could go do today to help their small business?

 

Amanda McGrew  39:33

Um, I think one of the first things I was super excited about was just like buying an LLC, like, getting the like the name having somebody create the logo, and like when I tell people like friends of mine who want to start kind of like I had a friend the other day who was talking about, you know, like creating Thai clothes and like, you know, making these clothes and selling them to people and maybe putting them on like a site like Etsy or things like that. And I was like, you got to buy that you You got to go find the Instagram name, pick it pick a name and make sure it’s available on Instagram because like, that’s where the marketing happens, you know, especially in like the, you know, like the fashion, the fashion world it’s like that that’s where all that happens. So I think when I was coming up with a name with a name for playoff that was probably like a one month long thing. It was like, and it was so funny because I was like showing up to my parents house like every few days and I was like, What about game on? What about? What about home run? What about touchdown or like, I was like, I was shouting out the most ridiculous names. And it was like, and I think I know I settled on the name it was like now I got to make sure it’s available on every on every platform I got to make sure like the domain is there. And I think once I committed to you know, a logo and the Instagram and like the domain name it was like alright, like now you got to work you know now you got to this is that was the easy part, you know, but it made it feel very real. It was like, Oh, I really have a website you have an Instagram you have a logo like this is really gonna happen. And this was all before the app was ever had even started to be developed, like I had hired the guy, but like, none of the app was created yet. I was like, posting pictures of like, my friends who were athlete couples, like coming soon you’re gonna be able to meet your, your person, you know, so it was like, I really had to put my money where my mouth was at that point, like, right, it’s gonna come, but you got to really prove it, you know?

 

Shannon Jean  41:23

Yeah, and having all these different names and ideas is the way to go. Because there’s nothing worse than getting locked into something. And then finding out it’s art, you know, it’s being used for something else or similar. And we’ve, I’ve had that happen a number of times, so So yeah, I think you’re, you’re definitely doing it the right way.

 

Amanda McGrew  41:40

And even to, like, look around and start having these ideas. I think to myself, everything I come up with is gonna be taken. Like you convince yourself that there’s no way there’s, you know, in 2020, that anything hasn’t come up with the it hasn’t been come out yet. You know?

 

Shannon Jean  41:54

Yeah. It’s great. It’s a great story. And I’m really, you know, I’m really thankful That you share it with us today because I just love the progression of where you took it because you know a lot of people like Hey, are you really going to be professional athlete? Is that realistic? No I have and and but you picked out the pieces of it that help are going to help you and help you now succeed beyond that, that, you know sphere, which which I love it. It’s awesome. And just listening to the enthusiasm and authenticity in your voice is great. It inspires me and it inspires everybody else. And I really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing with us today. What’s the best way for our listeners to connect with you and to learn more about playoff?

 

Amanda McGrew  42:36

Yeah, so you can find playoff on Instagram. It’s at playoff dating app. And you can also find me personally, you can reach out to me via email. It’s Amanda at playoff dating app calm. That’s awesome.

 

Shannon Jean  42:48

That’s great. We wish you all the best. definitely keep in touch so you can check in and we can see how you’re doing and let us know when the wedding happens.

 

Amanda McGrew  42:55

Yeah, really.

 

Shannon Jean  42:58

Again, we really appreciate

 

Amanda McGrew  43:01

It was a blast. I appreciate it. You bet.

 

Dave Hamilton  43:04

Man, when she goes to pitch her to her series A or Angel round or whatever, when she goes to pitch to investors, they’re like that enthusiasm that we just heard for whatever 35 minutes like straight like a fire hose is what’s gonna get that company and really her funded that this is

 

Shannon Jean  43:24

Yeah, she’s rockin yeah the product right now right? yes the biz and she tells us a well yep and you know that you could just hear her kind of ramping up especially when she started talking about the demographic about you know, not everybody is you know, whatever professional this or that but they had this experience through college and and then when also when she talked about her experience leaving and then not having that big circle of people surrounding you that you had the big dating pool and that’s that key right there.

 

Dave Hamilton  43:57

It that’s why like, she knows Why this app is necessary? Of course, she built it for herself first, right? But right that, like, for anybody out there creating a business, you need to know the answer to that question, why? Why does someone else need what I’m building here? And if you know that in your core, well, then you can sort of build around that, which is exactly what she did. So

 

Shannon Jean  44:25

yeah, that’s great. And I love you know, if you have an idea concept or you built, you’ve taken action already done it, getting out there and talking to people like Dave and I is a great way to refine your pitch and to get it and to get some feedback. You know, we talked to Amanda a little bit after we disconnected and said, Hey, this was great. And this really resonated and hit home and, and, you know, we’re all about building each other up here on the small business show. If you want to come on and tell your story, let us know feedback at Business Show Koh. We would love to hear from you. We’d also love to hear from you with a five star review on that. The podcast directory of your choice wherever you’re listening to this. Just go to you can also just go to Business Show co slash reviews. And that’ll redirect you over to the Apple podcast directory and let us know what you think. Yeah,

 

Dave Hamilton  45:14

yeah. That’s, that’s all we got for today, folks. Thank you so much for listening. Like Shannon said, please thank you for your review, and keep living that charmed life. We’ll see you next time.

 

Read Transcript

 

 

 

  • 00:00:00 Small Business Show #282 for Wednesday, June 23, 2020
  • 00:02:25 SPONSOR: PDFpen and PDFpenPro is your ultimate PDF viewing and editing app for the Mac.
  • Amanda McGrew from Playoff Dating App
  • Sports gave me stuff that I’ve always done, but never realized I was learning how to do
  • Perseverance!
  • Big asset: know what you don’t know
  • Inspiration: Put your credibility on the line
  • Social Media has been my nemesis
  • The App Store Approval Process
  • Form an LLC, Create your name (social media, too!), create your logo
  • SBS 282 Outtro
  • @PlayoffDatingApp on Instagram
  • Amanda@PlayoffDatingApp.com
  • SBS 282 Outtro
  • Review The Small Business Show

The post Amanda McGrew – Founder of Playoff Dating App – Small Business Show Episode 282 appeared first on The Small Business Show.

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