Posted on January 21 2015
This week’s amazing Wednesday Woman is Robyn Exton, founder and CEO of Dattch, a dating app created exclusively for lesbian, bisexual and bi-curious women.
Newnham: Robyn, What's your background?
Exton: I spent most of my career working in branding and marketing before I setup Dattch. I kind of fell into that industry and really enjoyed the process of creating one unifying idea for a whole company to stand behind. When I was there, one of my clients was a dating business and it got me really interested in the whole dating and social industry and, in turn, led me to making the decision to quit and set up Dattch.
Newnham: How did Dattch go from idea to business?
Exton: I started working on the idea in my spare time, thinking about the brand, about the product and how I would market it. As I spent more time looking at it, I learnt so much more and realised how little I knew about the tech industry and how to setup a business. So I started reading a lot and went on a few coding courses to learn some front end programming basics.
At that stage I was getting up at 5am, working on the app before heading into the office, then going to classes in the evening and then working on the app after class. It was all pretty intense. I worked with some freelancers to bring the first version of the app to a prototype stage and the day I submitted it to Apple was the day I handed in my notice. I knew I cared about it too much to not take the risk and see what could come from it.
Newnham: What's been your biggest business challenge and how did you overcome it?
Exton: Raising money has been really challenging at times. You have so many frustrating conversations, awkward meetings, brutal rejections and never ending string alongs. It takes time and patience and perfection to get to a place where you really know what you’re doing and what people are looking for and therefore who is really going to be the right investor for you.
Overcoming it was a case of learning after each pitch what worked and what didn’t, who was right or not and what you should change next time. But, above all, it’s about relentless persistence. It sounds exhausting but at the end of it, it's hugely rewarding because the investors that do come on board are incredible people, that believe in you and the vision of your team and, ultimately, are going to be the people that help you get to the next level.
Newnham: What advice do you have for other women thinking about starting their own venture?
Exton: Don’t listen to the fear. There will always be a seed of doubt in your mind as to whether this is the right idea and time. But there will never be a perfect idea and time. If you can lose the fear of what the worst thing is that could happen, you’re free to take risks and see what you can make happen. We’re so restricted but the what ifs and not sures that actually, when you’re totally fearless, you make much bigger and bolder decisions that can really pay off.
Newnham: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give a younger Robyn?
Exton: Challenge yourself more. I spent a bit too long doing things I knew I could do. With the amount of information that is accessible today, you can figure out a way to tackle just about anything. You just have to start with the first step.