Almost 6 months into the life of a startup, we're not any richer, but we're certainly closer to the reality of a world with Mixolo all over it. We are helping solos go out, without hesitation or stigma, do what they love and share those experiences with other like-minded people.
You told us you want to go out. Our event host partners are ready to wow you with their solo-friendly events and experiences. Mixolo. Go solo.
A brief history...
In retrospect, "pre-launch" day...
On Valentine's Day this year, we entered what tech-lectuals call the ideation phase. Our founder put up a splash page for Mixolo with a brief intro to the Mixolo social experiment. Test city: Baltimore. The hook: Join us for our Valentine's day "virtual" launch party of this NEW social network on Facebook (THE social network) and Twitter. The idea: Let's form a real life social network where we leverage technology to bring us face-to-face. We asked you to opt in solo and find your community.
About that survey...
We began with a survey for solos to tell us what they wanted to do. Without any product or event to speak of, 20+ people in the founder's social circle immediately "signed up" for Mixolo through the survey. It was exciting! They loved it!
If we build it, will others come?
With a virtually non-existent ad budget, we sponsored a post in the hyper-local digital mag, Baltimore Fishbowl. Another 50+ people signed up over the next few weeks!
Simultaneously, we set out to convince a few event hosts to hold some "pre-launch" Mixolo events. It wasn't easy. It takes time to put together an event, let alone one that would accommodate a group of solos meeting for the first time, with the hopes that they would not regret going out and attempting to have fun with other strangers.
We also had to get event hosts on board with the idea that "special" events for our often unintentionally sidelined solo guests could work for Mixolo members AND for them. We were clear that what differentiates Mixolo is that we are not ticket re-sellers, but "sellers" of experiences. Solos want to go out, without stigma, and we want to fill our hosts' "seats."
We found that venues already investing in customer service are constantly looking for ways to make their interactions with their customers special. Mixolo wants to partner with those venues. We also observed that accommodations for unaccompanied guests are routinely ignored in favor of coupled or grouped individuals, due to outdated societal norms and marketing assumptions.
We were careful not to imply that navigating solo is a negative experience. We were confident, however, that almost everyone has experienced moments where they felt uncomfortable going out unaccompanied or simply might have preferred sharing an experience with others.
If they really like it, how will we scale Mixolo?
Like any great idea in the 21st century, we knew we needed a multi-platform app. We issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) on March 1 to collaborate with a full-service development agency. In order to create a vibrant social network with a marketplace of solo-friendly events, we had to make it easy for people to join Mixolo and for event hosts to bring them events and experiences they desire. With an ambitious 6 month development timeline, we began developing the Mixolo app.
No need to wait for the app, let's get some face-to-face time...
By the middle of March we had secured two willing vanguard event hosts of the original four we targeted; Baltimore's Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and Brewhouse No. 16 hosted our adventurous early adopters and became models for the Mixolo experience. People who came were glad they did. It was easy to connect and engage with other guests, not to mention our hosts. Everyone felt welcomed. Great idea, right? While we enjoyed hosting these fun "free" events and meeting the coolest people (no kidding!), how do we do that without going broke, we asked ourselves.
If we build it, will they come - and actually pay for it?
We hit the streets again, looking for more open-minded event hosts. Other than limited hyper-local digital mag ads and Facebook posts, we still had no advertising budget. We decided to focus on cultivating our loyal group of early adopter members who came on board so enthusiastically and bring them more of the Mixolo experience.
We built a more robust Beta website that launched on May 2nd and posted 5 events for June and July 2017.
Shortly after our Beta launch, our founder, Carolyn Walton Lynch, was interviewed by two notable Baltimore business and tech publications. Never underestimate the power of good press (Baltimore Business Journal and Technical.ly articles). More Mixolo early adopters signed up!
Every startup has to start somewhere...
Keep in mind we have not done any formal advertising for members, so we were challenged with filling a few of the Beta "pay" events. On the other hand, we were thrilled that at least half the number of attendees we enjoyed for our free promotional events came out for our Beta events. We were quickly approaching 200 members, and 10% of them took a chance, deciding that good times are worth paying for, especially when someone else is arranging them for you.
Our two charter, Mixolo-ready hosts, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, along with two new event host contributors, Ellicott City's Wine Bin and Georgia Grace Cafe, and Brewhouse No. 16, brought the Mixolo experience to more enthusiastic and dynamic groups of our early adopters.
Mixolo, the real, coming soon...
The app is progressing nicely. We hope to have a prototype for our vanguard early adopter members and event hosts by the end of August to test.
But, we're not waiting. Here we are, claiming to be taking a "workcation," but we realize our primary job is to work for fun. We have a lot of work to do to make Mixolo a reality and a viable business model that promotes positive social engagement and in-person human interaction.
"I don't like fun," said no one ever. We believe in what we are doing, so we'll keep going. We are grateful for the warm embrace from our early adopter members and hosts. Thank you!
Stay tuned for more pre-app events in September and October. We are forming partnerships with our hosts to bring you the things you want to do to our marketplace of solo-friendly Mixolo events.
MONTH 6 (the preview)
In search of "angel"s and other little miracles...
We've had another rush of more early adopter sign ups after more recent good and timely news in the digital mag where we started, Baltimore Fishbowl, but we were appropriately schooled by potential investors that several numbers matter. Subscribers, members, hosts, successful events... We just re-entered into a seed fund competition. Woohoo! Maybe we should wait for the results? Second time's a charm? The hustle continues!
This is the beginning of a beautiful journey. We're so glad you came! We promise to blog more, 'gram more and keep you in the fun.