In this first episode we wind the clocks back four years to the ideation stage at ThisThat and reminisce about our journey thereafter. It’s in doing projects like this one really thinks about how much has goes into to establishing a business. The episode explores how two founders met (in a pub), their excitement in not only discussing a new business venture but also exploring what’s wrong with existing solutions, the hard grind of securing investment, building an initial team developing a product (slowly) and eventually finding a market to launch it to. Dom and Max got stuck into this project because of their distaste for surveys, exaggerated by their inundation of requests to fill out surveys for friend’s dissertations while studying at the University of Edinburgh. Let’s be real, surveys are/were particularly boring so what better, and more difficult challenge it was to set about making surveys fun.
The two started off in a tiny office (Dom’s storage room in his Edinburgh student flat) sharing a desk and graffitiing the walls with drawings of their platform. Lines connected page to page indicating how a user might navigate the platform - an app. Taking inspiration from the popular dating app Tinder, they decided to make surveys fast and easy to complete by limiting answer options to two choices. Swipe left for this and swipe right for that. The name ThisThat was born.
How did the two become founders?
Dom had always been entrepreneurial. At school he was the guy that sold sweets to his class mates knowing all the money they had was spent on sweets. At university he set up IVI - an events company knowing students spend all their money on nights out. Dom is a people person, has big ideas and tries to get his team behind them wherever possible. As a first time founder with limited experience and even more limited cash, the prospect of growing ThisThat was all the more difficult. But Dom has never shied away from a challenge. He had a good idea and knew it would take a killer Co-Founder to make things happen. He found that in Max Osborne.
Max is a leader, a self-taught programmer, data scientist and mathematician. He’s also very good at business and works well with people, making him a rare breed. Unlike Dom, Max has an insane attention to detail, lives and breathes strategy and isn’t afraid to call people out. Together they are a bit of a Yin and Yang, or, a bit of This and a bit of That.
With some money saved up from a prior events company Dom ran he was able to support himself and Max on salaries of £10k a year to begin with. The two lived modestly earning extra cash on the side. Max worked in an after school teaching club and as a tutor earning up to £30/hour taking advantage of flexible work hours. Dom worked part-time at Amazon Flex working in an Edinburgh warehouse packaging and delivering parcels from his VW Polo. The two had enough to get by and still had enough hours in the day to focus on ThisThat.
In the early days Max saw ThisThat’s potential as a data company and quickly gravitated towards the product side of the business. Dom focused on raising, ThisThat’s marketing, and user growth. Together the two set off on a mission to make surveys fun.
Check out Episode 1 of A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That to learn more about ThisThat.