This Week’s Guest: Mandy Menaker
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Today we have the pleasure of talking with Mandy Menaker. Mandy is the head of brand development and PR at Shapr, a fairly new and upcoming networking app that’s something like a professional Tinder. The app helps you connect with inspiring individuals and promotes in-person meetings.
Mandy offers some brilliant insight in this conversation into how you can work inside a startup and still have the entrepreneurial experience (with fewer of the responsibilities). She’ll also discuss the importance of focusing on user experience as well as that of staying connected with investors. Another fascinating topic she covers is running a business and maintaining communication when members live and work all over the world.
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Part 1 of 2: Mandy explains what Shapr is and the basics of how it functions. She explains some of the decisions (such as why you can only swipe on a limited number of profiles per day, and how they decide where to market). She also covers topics including Shapr’s relaunch, monetization, and investors.
6:00 – Mandy tells us more about how Shapr works. The whole idea, she explains, is getting you to meet people face-to-face.
8:13 – What spurred the idea of Shapr?
10:05 – Mandy discusses whether the conceptual similarity between Shapr and Tinder was intentional.
11:17 – We learn the reason why Shapr has a limit for how many people you can swipe left or right per day. Mandy talks about the similarities and differences between dating and professional connections.
14:17 – Greg gives an example of someone who he connected with on Shapr.
15:54 – Shapr is currently two years old, but the app was re-launched in the last year. Mandy talks us through the reason for the relaunch.
17:30 – Mandy talks us through the funding process, which has all been done through private investors.
18:19 – Mandy was the first person brought on in the US, she explains, discussing why it’s so important to have local insight.
20:35 – We learn what Shapr looks for in deciding where to market.
22:20 – The first role that was hired for this project was the head of product, Mandy tells us, and explains why. She then explains the order of the rest of the hires, and reveals the size of the (surprisingly small) team.
24:04 – How does the Shapr team stay in contact with each other given that they’re international? She answers, then talks about the communication strategies and meetings that keep everyone on the same page.
26:34 – Mandy talks about the importance of culture.
28:38 – Given that Shapr is free, how does the app actually make money? It’s currently not monetized, she explains, and then discusses plans for the future.
31:55 – At some point you need to monetize your service instead of keeping your app completely free in most cases, Mandy explains, discussing a couple of exceptions. She then touches on how games tend to monetize, and how this is different from Shapr.
34:48 – How does Shapr encourage users to keep coming back to the app?
38:30 – Mandy talks more about how setting monetization targets works in terms of having investors.
40:20 – In any business, you should be keeping your investors informed, Mandy explains.
Rocket Round Q&A
- What has been one of Mandy’s favourite books that have helped her in her entrepreneurial career? She just started reading Give and Take by Adam Grant.
- Is there any entrepreneur you look up to? Ellen Degeneres, because she can find the humour in almost any situation.
- Is there one piece of advice you’ve received that has really stuck with you? “Go out and make a lot of mistakes, but measure them.”
- What do you do in your downtime, when you’re just chilling out? Mandy does a lot of cycling and hiking, especially with her dog. She also loves musicals.
- What is your definition of success? “Success, to me, means having something that you can share that’s positive with your team.”
Part 2 of 2: Mandy digs into some more details. She discusses “intrepreneurship,” how best to use social media, Shapr’s decisions on advertising, and the importance of understanding your local market.
47:58 – Mandy talks about being an “intrepreneur” versus an entrepreneur and discusses the variety of roles within an organization. She then shares more about her own role at Shapr.
50:43 – At the end of the day, the CEO needs to be the key decision maker who makes the final call on which direction to go, Mandy explains.
52:57 – We hear a bit about Mandy’s background and how this has allowed her to bring a unique skillset and network to the company.
54:43 – On the marketing side of things, what did Shapr do in the relaunch that made it so much more successful than the first time around? As she answers, Mandy provides some advice for startups.
58:12 – Mandy discusses the impact of the subway campaign they’ve run in New York.
59:36 – We hear more about what exactly the subway campaign was.
61:34 – Why is it so important to be in contact with your users? Mandy says that in any service, the most important people you need to stay in contact with are your users, and offers several reasons why this is the case.
65:04 – Mandy talks about social media, suggesting you find one or two key channels instead of trying to be everywhere.
67:05 – Where does Mandy see Shapr going in the next five years?
68:25 – Mandy lists some places people can find her and Shapr.
70:20 – If you’re downloading the app, just be open to the conversations that may come your way, Mandy suggests.
Here’s where you can find Shapr and Mandy:
Shapr on Twitter
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