Tell us about yourself?
I am the co-founder of nenos, alongside my business partner, Sam Spencer. I manage our business and operations, while he oversees our technology building and development. We’ve been friends for years after meeting at the University of South Florida in Tampa, pursuing interests in creating community, particularly as two LGBT-identifying men. I have my Master of Public Administration and Sam studied cell and molecular biology; today, while working on nenos, I work in program management in a large nonprofit and Sam is a professional app developer.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
Many people think that starting a new business is a complex and massive undertaking that will drown you in paperwork and fees, but the hardest part is actually just visualising and developing an idea. Once you have your idea down, and you can find others who align with your concepts and beliefs, the rest is just getting your ducks in order.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
When we first started nenos, we decided to crowdfund instead of prioritising connecting with investors because we wanted the financial base of the company to be grassroots-funded. Unfortunately, this set us back in the long-run with cultivating stronger relationships with investors and is something we would want to re-visit.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
We’re non-traditional entrepreneurs: neither of us studied business or grew up with a natural passion for creating new businesses, and we’re also from a community (as gay men) that is disproportionately not as involved in entrepreneurism as our peers. It was the simple idea of wanting to make a positive difference in the world, and a new experience, that really transformed our path into creating nenos and starting a business.
We had the entrepreneurial spirit thrust upon us instead of actively seeking it out, and it’s become something that we’re so passionate about now.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
Time management is what makes or breaks you and, by extension, your business. We’ve picked up digital tools for managing all of our different tasks and responsibilities, embraced aggressive calendar scheduling to hold ourselves accountable, and, most importantly, embraced a healthy work-life balance. It is so important to recognise the effects that mental health has on our productivity, and a positive mental health state was a big reason that we even launched nenos.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
We have felt that social media platforms, in general, have strayed from the basic idea of bringing people together. Studies have shown that many platforms cause depression and anxiety; governments across the world are looking at bringing more regulation into these companies, and more people than ever are either taking breaks from or completely leaving social media. We want nenos to be a love story to everything you like about social media: no ads, no aggressive algorithms, and a platform that supports all of our creators instead of selling them out.
Where do you see your business in five years?
We see nenos as an industry leader in positive social experiences. By adopting a nontraditional approach to social media, primarily by prohibiting sponsored ads and allowing creators to monetise their own content, we believe nenos is positioned as a solid alternative to the more traditional platforms on the market today.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
It doesn’t take an industry expert to see that the social media market is dominated by a few big platforms, and these big fish are aggressive in eliminating competition. Breaking through this barrier will be our biggest challenge… but there are signs out there, such as heightened regulations, more fees, and fines, and shifting market preferences… that we can tap into a new zeitgeist and overcome this challenge.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
Because we’ve only just launched on the App Store, our history book is pretty short. With that said, our biggest success story so far is simple: coming up with a solid idea of a new social media platform that can attract disenchanted creators, attract potential investors interested in a new frontier of social networking, and compete with preexisting platforms.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
We can be found on the App Store, and eventually on all Android phones, for anyone to download nenos who is interested in creating on the platform. In the meanwhile, we’re about to embark on an aggressive PR marketing campaign and encourage grassroots creator-to-creator conversations about why more people should download the app. We’re utilising every opportunity we get to talk about nenos and its possibilities.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
We’re living in a time when we have more information at our fingertips than ever before, and this can be a huge asset for potential startup founders. Do as much research as possible on possible investors, look at other similar ideas and how they succeeded or failed, and use this research to build the best idea possible and who to talk with. Research is key.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
Personally, I hope to eventually buy a home, start a family, and travel more often. Professionally, both Sam and I hope that nenos is able to grow and build an incredible community of creators and their friends. We want nenos to break the idea of what it means to be a successful social networking platform: that you don’t need to exploit the data of your creators to make a profit. That would not only be a great future for us, but also for the industry in general.