Danielle Dietzek and Julie Griggs are the Cofounders of Fourplay Social, a dating app that lets you team up with a single friend and match with other single pairs. Their aim is to create a more fun, less awkward, and safer way to date for everyone, especially women.
Image courtesy of Fourplay SocialTell us about your career path leading up to starting your own business.
Julie: Well, we’re very unique in that our careers have nothing to do with technology or business or anything like that. We’re both primary healthcare providers - I’m a Physician Assistant (PA) and Danielle’s a Nurse Practitioner.
Danielle: But, pursuing careers in healthcare is responsible for our starting Fourplay. Essentially, Julie’s clinical rotation for PA school required her to move into Manhattan for two months, and since we’ve been best friends since college she came to stay in my apartment. That’s when Fourplay was born!What made you want to start your own business?
Danielle: Okay, I am going to be totally honest. We did not really want to start our own business at first...
Julie: It’s true. When you hear our story, it’s clear that we didn’t create Fourplay as a way to escape our current professions. We, like many other people, had an idea, tried it out, and had an overwhelmingly positive response. When I shared the feedback Danielle and I were getting from potential suitors, my brother called me and said, “You need to make this an app. I’ll help you.”
Danielle: I was nervous because we are best friends and I really did not want to do anything that would jeopardize that. Plus, Julie and I were already so busy as a Nurse Practitioner and a full-time Physician Assistant student scheduled to take the board exam in four months, so how could we ALSO start a business? It seemed impossible, but our families were so supportive that we decided to go for it - but only after we made a pact that our friendship would always come before our business.How did you go from idea to execution?
Julie: It all started when Danielle picked me up to move me into her apartment. We were sitting in a traffic jam on the FDR in New York City venting about how we both had pretty much reached our breaking points with all the different dating apps. I was excited to be in New York with my friends and to also be in a large pool of singles. But, the dating apps were draining and I didn’t want to sacrifice time with my friends, so I asked Danielle if she’d be interested in making a joint dating profile. We sat on the FDR talking about how much more fun it would be to date together. We got home, changed our dating profile to pictures of the two of us and encouraged guys to “swipe right” if they had an awesome friend who wanted to double date with us.
Danielle: The response was INCREDIBLE. We had about 16 different guys reach out in the first week. We were getting messages like, “This is such a great idea! I have the perfect guy,” or “You girls are changing the dating game.” Had we gone out with all the guys (which we didn’t) that would have been 32 singles for us to meet. We did test our idea and went on a double date with one of our matches. The two guys were absolutely not our soulmates, but it was one of the best dates we have ever been on. It wasn’t a great date because of the guys though...there was something about being there with a friend that just made it that much more enjoyable. We had so much fun that it didn’t feel like the date was a bust.What were some unexpected hurdles you faced when starting your business?
Julie: Well, trying to figure out what a reasonable price was to develop an app and finding an app developer took a lot of work, especially since we were both naive to the tech world. We found developers we were comfortable using who are located overseas. The developers are great, but the time zone difference presented a communication challenge - meaning we constantly needed to be awake and accessible at odd hours to give feedback while our developers were still at the office. Working full-time jobs in healthcare, we already feel like we are both fighting the clock, so it was challenging to balance everything.
Danielle: On a more personal note, learning how to navigate a relationship that held space for both business partners and best friends was something that could be tricky at times. It took some time to establish ways to separate Fourplay from our friendship, but I think we’ve successfully proven that it can be done.
Best advice you’ve received?
Danielle: To be genuine, to be ourselves. We were taught early on that it’s important for a good horse to have a good jockey, because a bad jockey could run an incredible horse into the ground. That has really stuck with us when establishing professional relationships and network connections. Sometimes it’s important to drop the formality in favor of being authentic like the fearless founders we are.
Julie: I also think that knowing that you don’t know is essential, so never be afraid to ask for help. This was something I was taught while studying to be a PA and it absolutely applies to Fourplay, too.
What does Support Your Local Girl Gang mean to you?
Danielle: It means making women feel like they don’t have to fit into a box (or dress). It means supporting them when they do something for themselves because it is intrinsically motivating, and not because they will get external validation from society.
Julie: It means fostering an environment where failing is celebrated because it means that there was an attempt in the first place - because we women know about the paradox of that first step and how moving toward what actually makes you happy can be both exhilarating and paralyzing at the same time.
Favorite books, podcasts, tools, and or apps:
Danielle: The Entreprenista Podcast, and Superwomen with Rebecca Minkoff. Obviously, How I Built This. Does anyone NOT say that?
Julie: Anything by Betches Media. I have a real appreciation for what they’ve built. And Shark Tank actually taught us a great lesson about user acquisition and the importance of density over quantity when it comes to a dating app. Thank you, Mr. Wonderful!
Danielle: We’ve gotten really into Instagram and love using that platform to get the word out about Fourplay, connecting with people, having fun with memes, stuff like that, so as far as tools go we’re big fans of Canva and Bazaart. Photopea is also a great open source alternative to Photoshop if you’re on a budget and looking to bootstrap it like us.
Julie: Some of my favorite books are #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and anything by Malcolm Gladwell.
Danielle: A business book I would recommend is The Glitter Plan by the Cofounders of Juicy Couture, and for pleasure I would say She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb, and Educated by Tara Westover.