Small Business Spotlight of the Week: Priority Dish

There is nothing more satisfying than filling out an anonymous feedback survey at the end of a long semester of some terrible college course, with an equally horrible professor. Your worst grievances get to make their way into the hands of the dean… where nothing will come of it.  Because everyone knows the worst professors are always tenured. Always.

Today’s small business spotlight of the week, Priority Dish, brings you the same idea– anonymous feedback– but for every aspect of your life.  Priority Dish is a social media platform where you can connect with friends, co-workers, frenemies, and strangers and speak your mind. It can be personal, it can be professional– but it’s always anonymous.

John talks so more below about building a social media platform:

How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?, is a platform where people can send or receive anonymous messages.  Think professor asking students to provide anonymous feedback about a lecture, or wanting to share something sensitive with a friend or family member…think anonymous flirting with someone you know, or a worker requesting anonymous feedback from colleagues.

We all have things that we’d really like to say to friends, family, co-workers and strangers but are afraid to speak our mind. We wanted to create a fun and safe way for people to communicate anonymously (at least at first) so that we can provide more honest feedback and help to the people we care about or receive help and feedback from them.

So, on PriorityDish you can send anonymous messages (dish it out) as a Fan, Critic, or Secret Admirer. Or you can request feedback from friends, family and co-workers which you will receive anonymously (getting dished). As the recipient of a PriorityDish message you will be able to request that the sender reveal their identity.

What are some industry specific challenges you faced?  

The biggest challenge for a start up of this kind is to build traffic.  My son and I had fun recruiting students at college campuses, but quickly learned the best strategy for us was to experiment with Google Ad Word campaigns–by far the best performing and lowest cost advertising platform we tested.

What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?

While I mentioned that doing demos at college campuses wasn’t very effective way for us to recruit users, I’d loved watching how my nine year old son transformed from hiding behind my back to acting like a carnival barker pulling students over and leading a PriorityDish demo.  He schooled those 20 year olds!

What was your biggest learning curve/experience?

We’re still learning how to best A/B test different parts of the product UI and optimize the user experience.  And per my comments about traffic building, we’re still exploring the best investment in our time to build traffic outside of our keyword campaigns.

What made you use crowdSPRING?

The back story behind PriorityDish is that it began as a project to teach my nine year old autistic son something about starting a business.  I wanted to come up with an idea that we could actually produce (his original idea was a Club Penguin-like social network for kids!).  Once we came up with an idea that we could actually build, I needed visual design help.  I loved how CrowdSPRING let me review multiple proposals and choose one.  I contracted with a designer to build a logo for me, and pretty much incorporated elements of logo throughout the product design.

If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?

I would have launched PriorityDish as a mobile app first, and connected it to Facebook and Twitter.  All on the roadmap, but I should have sequenced things differently.

How do you see your company growing in the future?

We’ve registered several thousand users in our first 6 months with little promotion beyond $5 day spends on Google.  This puts us in start up purgatory–i.e. just enough success to not invalidate the idea, but not enough to make us feel comfortable that we can make this a viable business.  Many, many start ups find themselves in the same situation, and I see the next year as critical–either we demonstrate real growth momentum or re-think or growth and company strategy.

Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.  

Be passionate and always be learning.

Priority Dish’s call for a new logo received 98 entries.