Among the things that you are passionate about, is food one of them? Me too. Whether you spend most of your time on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest; it’s hard not to run into posts, pictures and opinions about food. When I first heard of new app DinnDinn, I was immediately intrigued. DinnDinn allows users to customize their food preferences, connect with friends through TasteBuds, post pictures of food and share opinions, and much more.
Another interesting aspect of the DinnDinn story is the background of the founders. The company wasn’t founded by a couple of 30-something Silicon Valley veterans, but two 19 year-old friends. I reached out to one of the co-founders, Jeremy A. Markham, for an interview.
Launched: August 28th , 2012
Founders: Jeremy A. Markham, Kyler W. Juckins
Funding raised: Less than 100k
Fun Fact: Founders Jeremy Markham and Kyler Juckins were born on the exact same day!
DinnDinn Description: DinnDinn is a virtual fridge for all the drinks, dishes, and desserts you love or hate! It allows you to follow your friends, celebrities, and food connoisseurs to see what food they love or hate, take their recommendations and express your opinion too!
Michael Luchies: How was the idea for DinnDinn born?
Jeremy A. Markham: Thankfully both of our fathers have been very successful and intelligent businessmen so we’ve had entrepreneurial influences since a very early age. Throughout our high school years Kyler and I came up with a few good ideas that we never thought would be feasible. After sharing some of our early ideas with our automotive teacher Mark Williams, who was a mentor to both of us, he gave us that extra drive to do something like this – to think outside the box, and do some great things. One day we were in Kyler’s kitchen reflecting on those ideas and it finally came to us, why not figure out a way for people to share food on social media and meet people while doing it? As boring as it sounds we were just sitting there eating, we weren’t doing anything overly exciting, we didn’t have hackers and programmers there with us. While it was a very exciting moment for us because we had finally come up with an idea we really loved the thought of, it isn’t as exciting of a story as a lot of people expect it to be.
Michael Luchies: What steps had to be taken to make it this far? (Hiring’s, development, competitions/awards, funding, etc.)
Jeremy A. Markham: For us to make it to where we are today has taken a considerable amount of work. Being an entrepreneur is by no means easy or something that you can put half of your heart into, it’s an experience that will test your determination and resolve as well as the ability to hear the word ‘no’ much more often than you hear the word ‘yes’.
We were in the idea stage back during our senior year of high school and contacted every major venture capital firm on the west coast with a completely different idea. Sometimes it’s kind of embarrassing to look back and think that we went right to the big shots with what we have since realized was not the best idea – but we learned a lot from them. After we had pivoted and re-evaluated our time spent over the previous few months, we came up with DinnDinn, which, at the time, was called something completely different. Luckily we met our angel investors and got them on board when we were still eighteen years old. From there it was a long process trying to decide who would do the development but we eventually found our now rock star team of developers at a marketing and development firm in Chicago called Clique Studios. They went way beyond our expectations in both quality of product and time of build, helping us to launch on August 28th, 2012.
From there we’ve been marketing DinnDinn and we even attended a startup event in Chicago called Built in Chicago where we presented DinnDinn in front of about 250 entrepreneurs, investors and programmers. Although it seems like all of this happened in just a few short months, these events happened over the course of two years, and a long two years at that. We often hear entrepreneurs talking about having to wear many different hats and we can definitely attest to that. We had to come up with and develop the idea, present the idea to different people, pivot, network, learn about programming before we met with the Clique Studios, learn about an entire industry, etc. all while going to school!
Michael Luchies: How was the team created/recruited?
Jeremy A. Markham: Kyler and I knew each other in high school and coincidentally have the exact same birthday – September 18, 1992. Although we weren’t extremely close early on, we found a common bond our junior year of high school when we both enrolled in automotive classes. The friendship only grew from there and we both realized we had a desire to be entrepreneurs and create something of our own.
During our freshman year in college I stuck close to home and attended North Central College in Naperville, IL while Kyler ventured about six hours south to Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. While many people would assume this slowed us down, it actually gave us an opportunity to strengthen our friendship and the business while continuing to grow. When sophomore year rolled around Kyler relocated back to Naperville and began attending North Central College as well.
In November of 2012 Kyler and I attended the CEO National Conference in Chicago and met Megan Barfield, who is now our CMO, as she was part of the small group of students from North Central College attending the conference. Megan has already proven to be an invaluable resource to the company and is very similar to Kyler and I. She is intelligent, innovative, professional and definitely has a bright future.
Michael Luchies: What are the goals for DinnDinn?
Jeremy A. Markham: First and foremost we want to create a great product that we really love. This all started out of a love for food and that’s something we don’t want to forget.
It seems as though sometimes companies have really great potential because they have a cool and innovative product, whether it be a mobile food app or a toaster, yet they don’t succeed in making it all it can be because they focus too much on trying to get rich quick. We’ve already achieved multiple personal goals such as finding investors and having the app go live. Finding investors was a huge achievement for us and we managed to get them on board just a few days before we turned nineteen. When we were able to use the app in real time on our phones for the first time it was an amazing, albeit kind of odd, experience.
Hopefully we can continue to make the app better and exceed our own expectations. In regards to business goals we’d like to get to the point where our brand is recognizable for a wide range and number of people. Our ‘mascot’ is a person with a burger for a head, something people really enjoy thus far, and hopefully it will become somewhat of an icon.
As far as numbers of users go, the sky is the limit, and I don’t think setting a number that we’d like to reach would do justice to our personal goals simply because we want this to be something everyone the world over can enjoy. Obviously we wouldn’t have started this company and created an app if we didn’t want to prosper financially so we’d like to expand the numerous different ways DinnDinn will go about becoming financially prosperous while being innovators in the multiple different industries we’re in (food, mobile, etc.).
It’s exciting having a company as well as a passion of ours being merged together into something we get to work on everyday. We look enviably upon certain companies in numerous different industries that get to say that their job is their passion, especially when they’re able to share their day-to-day enjoyment of what they do with other people through social media.
The DinnDinn story is just beginning, but it is clear that Jeremy A. Markham and co-founder Kyler W. Juckins have what it takes to be successful as entrepreneurs. They would not be where they are today living out their dreams if not for taking action on the idea. Congratulations to the team on their recent success and best of luck in the future.
Is their an idea you are sitting on? Take action now before someone else does!