Episode 054: Adam Evers of believr
In Episode 54 of the TEN7 Podcast, Ivan Stegic sits down for a chat with Adam Evers, founder of the dating app believr and all-in-one start up maven. Subscribe to the podcast. Here's what we're discussing in this episode:
- Adam Evers, All-In-One Digital Tool
- Either you like bacon or you're wrong
- MN? CA? Where is he from?
- Bethel Entrepreneurship Club
- Impersonating Bill Gates
- Intersection of technology, marketing and creativity
- The side hustle
- Crypto currency
- Zapier & Zendesk
- Improving the dating app
- Value-based matching
- 5 basic values
- Community building and support
- "Creative Curve"
- Open Demographics Initiative
IVAN STEGIC: Hey everyone you're listening to the TEN7 Podcast, where we get together every fortnight and sometimes more often, to talk about technology, business and the humans in it. I'm your host Ivan Stegic. My guest today is Adam Evers, someone I’ve known professionally since we worked together on a site for Famous Dave’s, he as the client, me as the vendor. Since then, he's started at least two companies that I know of, and has worked for numerous startups and mature businesses in the Silicon Valley. He loves bacon, and I believe he has a website dedicated to it, which I’ll ask him about. He’s the founder of believr, which I hope to spend quite some time talking about today. Hey, Adam. Welcome to the Podcast.
ADAM EVERS: Thank you. I appreciate it.
IVAN: So, this whole bacon thing. Either you like bacon or you’re wrong? I don’t know why I can remember that, but you have a website about that?
ADAM: I do, I do, I do. It’s eitheryoulikebaconoryourewrong.com.
IVAN: Ok, what’s the story behind that?
ADAM: Honestly, it just was an idea at one point in time I was like why does this website not exist? It actually came from Famous Dave’s where there was a bunch of people that just really, really, liked bacon [laughing], and we actually created a whole campaign around it. And then one of the things I asked for when I was leaving was, “Hey, can I buy the domain from you, and all the copyright, trademark stuff?” And, so I did.
IVAN: It was a good move. Are you selling T-shirts with bacon on them yet?
ADAM: I am not. So, actually what it does, is there’s some tracking pixels, so I actually retarget people based on that information, with some social ads.
IVAN: Great. I just went to the site, so, I’m looking forward to seeing those ads. [laughing]
ADAM: Expect the ads.
IVAN: Ok, let’s go back to the beginning. I know you’re from Minnesota, but I’m not exactly sure where and when. So, where were you born? Where did you grow up?
ADAM: I was born in Southern California. I grew up in Newport Beach, Irvine, that whole area, and then we moved on. I moved to Colorado Springs when I believe I was 11 or 12, with my father and my mom, and my Dad got a job with a company called Atmel. They were a big semi-conductor factory out there for a long time. And, then from there, we moved to Minnesota. And then I moved back to Northern California in the San Francisco area, where I am now.
IVAN: You know, for all this time, I thought you were born and bred in Minnesota.
ADAM: [laughing] I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment?
IVAN: [laughing] I think so. Take that as a compliment.
ADAM: Ok, I will.
IVAN: I know you went to Bethel University, right?
ADAM: Yes, I did. I went to Bethel University, graduated in 2010.
IVAN: With a degree in marketing and entrepreneurship. Was that a new degree back then? How did you end up doing that?
ADAM: Yeah, that was actually the first year that they offered the degree. I was the first cohort of people that went to the entrepreneurship program there, which was a ton of fun. I actually started the Bethel Entrepreneurship Club way back in the day, too.
IVAN: And that’s still going strong today, I would assume.
ADAM: It is. It actually got incorporated into a bigger club. The goal was to make the club broad, not just a business club, but for anybody to be able to join. So, we had people from graphic design that wanted to be freelancers. We had people from, even the ceramics department, that wanted to sell their ceramics, kind of ad hoc. So, yeah, it was really, really cool. We had a big diverse group of people.
IVAN: I don’t think you want to be an entrepreneur when you grow up, right? That’s kind of just something that’s in your blood, so, I’m going to ask you. What did you actually want to be when you grow up?
ADAM: My Mom has a great story about this, but when I was in fifth grade, we had a Halloween contest at school, and I went as Bill Gates. [laughing] So, I’ve kind of always wanted to own my own company, and I always wanted to own my own tech company for as far back as I could remember, to be honest, which I know is fairly rare.
IVAN: Yeah. So, do you think of yourself as a tech guy with marketing chops and creative chops, or, do you think of yourself as a marketing guy with tech chops or some other combination? How does that work in your head?
ADAM: I am a starter and a problem solver, and I use marketing and technology to do that. So, that’s kind of how I frame myself. What I’m really good at is I’m really good at starting things, and I’m really good at solving problems. So, that has always kind of been at the forefront of my mind on how I approach, just about everything. I would definitely say I’m more of a marketing guy with a tech background. I’m not as technical as I would hope to be, or as I would want to be. But I dabble. I dabble here and there. [laughing]
IVAN: [laughing] I think you dabble quite successfully, don’t kid yourself.
ADAM: Well, thank you.
IVAN: So, you’ve been at major Silicon Valley players, but you’ve always got a side hustle. Am I right?
ADAM: [laughing] Yeah, that’s caused some drama in my life with most companies, but thankfully I’ve been able to work through that. But, yeah, I’ve always kind of had a side hustle, for sure.
IVAN: Let’s talk about one of them that you started while you were here in Minneapolis. Coindera, it’s now five years old. To me it feels like it’s still six months old, but it’s been around for five whole years, and it’s a platform for cryptocurrency alerting. That’s kind of the way I’m summarizing it. Tell me about the itch you had to scratch that made you start Coindera, and then kind of correct me, tell me exactly what Coindera is, as well please.
ADAM: Yeah, for sure. So, Coindera, you actually got it perfectly, the marketing message clearly worked really, really well, so that’s fantastic. [laughing] So, Coindera ultimately, we monitor about 32 different cryptocurrency markets, and then do pricing analysis based on a bunch of different triggers for our customers, and then some of them either push notifications, text messages, emails, that type of thing. So, really it was a need for myself. Most of my side projects and side hustles are normally things that I have seen, or I have felt pain in, and I’m like, “I need to build this, so I’m just going to build it for me.” And, that’s how Coindera started. So, Coindera actually started as coinauthority.io, and then it transformed into Coindera. So I was a day trader for Bitcoin and crypto currency back in, that was like 5 years ago. So I would stay up for hours watching charts on multiple screens and watch price movements and that type of thing and just buy and sell. So, finally I was like, this is dumb, I don’t want to stay up until 2:00 in the morning doing this, I should just build something that calls me or texts me. And so, I set up a quick and easy kind of thing, then told some friends about it, and they were like, “oh, I want to use that.” So, it kind of became a thing, and then it became Coindera, and now it’s been running for five years, we’re profitable. It’s a good little side business. We have 50,000 people who have signed up, registered users have signed up. Actually, I think it’s 60,000 now. It’s been a blast. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed it.
IVAN: You basically bootstrapped this thing yourself, and effectively you’re everything to everyone. You’re customer service, you’re business development, you’re development, you’re QA, you’re DevOps. Did I get that right?
ADAM: Yup, I’m an all-in-one start up.
IVAN: That’s awesome. With the tools we have these days, it’s certainly a whole lot easier to do, isn’t it?
ADAM: Yeah, 100%. With automation, you have Zapier, you have Zendesk, there’s a bunch of just different ways in which you could automate a lot of this process that makes it fairly easy. So, I try to automate as much as I possibly can. When I start a company and do something, at least from a technology perspective, it just makes it fairly easy to kind of iterate and move forward quickly.
IVAN: So, the other company you started is believr, your newest company. So, starting a company is really nothing new to you by this stage, right? What is believr?
ADAM: That’s a great question. So, believr is an LGBTQ+ Christian dating app. It’s going to be a community in a platform, really. The biggest reason why we’re creating this and kind of the vision around it is, to create a safe space for LGBT people as Christians, and I think, the initial reaction that I normally get is why? Why do you need this? I think it’s a good question. At least you’re thinking about it, right? So, for believr, one of the main reasons why I created believr was really because meeting my own need, for sure. So, I’m a gay Christian myself, and I’ve been looking for a connection and trying to find my future mate or spouse, and just really haven’t been satisfied with the current options out there. The current options out there are just not really focused or tailored for the demographic, my specific demographic that we’re kind of looking for. And so, I decided that I think I can do online dating better than match.com and Grindr and Scruff and all these other apps, even Tinder. So, I think the biggest thing for me was, matching people and connecting with people based on values, versus just based on swiping left and right on humans, And I think one of the things that’s hard for me is, I think, these apps have dehumanized us in a way, where there’s been this almost commercialization of humanity, to some extent, where you are a product, you are a tile on a screen, and you are either swiped left on or swiped right on, and that just feels very, as a human, I just don’t like that, because I don’t think that really provides a good experience for either party. You would never, in a bar, if someone came up to you and was like, “Hey, nice to meet you, I’m Adam.” You’d probably have the common human decency to respond to me like, “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m blah, blah, blah”. And, if you’re not interested you might be like, “Hey, you know, cool, I’m not interested”. But, that’s just not how interactions work online. And I think products can be built to actually help with that and those interactions. So, that’s just a big passion for me, for sure.
IVAN: You talked about value-based matching. What do you mean by that?
ADAM: Yeah, so, there are a couple other solutions that you provide something more value based. Most of them include a very long list of questions that you have to answer, and they try to create this compatibility score and match you, and all that stuff. I’m more of a believer of, there are values that people hold, and you can actually find out what those values are fairly easily. There’s a Stanford kind of study that came out that helped show, it’s a quiz really, it’s about 50 different categories of values, and you select which values both align with you, and then you go through an exercise of removing the values until you get to your top 5 and then ultimately your 1. And then through that process, you’re really able to see, “ok, like these are my top 5 values, and this is my number one value,” and then where to use those values, so then match you with other people that share those same values. There’s been a bunch of studies in a bunch of different psychological journals around how matching based on values or matching with another person based on values in a relationship, provides a better stability for that relationship. They last longer, they’re more healthy, all the good things that we want, ultimately, in a relationship.
IVAN: Have you thought about how the interface to select your potential date, match, friend will look? You talk about value-based matching and I would imagine that you plan to filter users based on your values, find the highest matches. But ultimately you still have to provide a UI to the user. Have you thought about how you might be different than swipe left/swipe right?
ADAM: So, one of the big things is what you first get to see. We want to allow you to choose what that is. So, specifically, if a user, for example, doesn’t want to show a picture first, but maybe wants to show a video, or maybe wants to show some text or some words, or maybe it’s just an emoji, however they want to presents themselves to this person, to then either select or not select, that will allow that. So, that can even be like, “hey, I just want to show my 5 values and then people can drill down and start to interact with their profile, if you will, a little bit more. Then, also within just their profile, they will have the ability to select what they do want to share and what they don’t want to share. So, like, from a public perspective, there are things that people might not want to share, whether that’s sexual orientation, because maybe they’re not out of the closet yet, or maybe it’s something else. There’s a bunch of just kind of factors that we have to consider, and we want to make sure that we provide all the users with a good experience, an experience where they feel safe, and then open to connection, because really you can’t form connection and deep connection unless you feel safe in an environment. That’s probably the most important thing.
IVAN: So, it’s not just another dating app, it’s a community and a platform that you’re building?
ADAM: You got it. So, one of the things that, the dating app is definitely phase one, if you will, but phase 2 and one of the differentiators that we’re going to have in there, is this kind of, thought process around chat rooms. So, way back in the day, you had, AIM and you had gay.com and gaychatroom.com, and that type of thing, and that’s how, ultimately, people connected online, was through these chatrooms. For some reason, they have gone by the wayside and have turned actually more into either Facebook message groups or text message threads.
ADAM: Yeah, What’sUp, or Telegram, all those types of things. So, now it’s more bringing that audience, since we are targeting a very specific audience, bringing in that audience and having more of an in platform, if you will, chat, so you can see, “oh, this persons online, and whatever else, like let’s start chatting with them. The thing that we’ve noticed our data from a bunch of different companies like Tinder, and Grindr and everybody else, is that, there’s actually pretty standard times that people use these apps [laughing] and they’re normally all on the apps at very similar times. If you look at a lot of their data, it shows that people use the applications most often on the weekends or in the evenings. During the day you don’t see a lot of activity, or marginal activity, but the majority of the activity on most of these apps is actually during the evenings and on weekends.
IVAN: So, you’re building something that’s hopefully less transactional, less product based and more community driven and more communications driven, which makes me think of the social networks that exist, right now. So, you’re really almost building a, I don’t want to say you’re building a social network, because you’re not really, but you have this community that you’re trying to put together, that will organically grow from it, because you feel as though that’s got more value than the transactional nature of photos that you swipe left and swipe right, And I would agree with that.
ADAM: Yeah, 100%, and I think the value, and it’s very apparent to me too, like just from a business model perspective, dating apps normally don’t make a lot of money. There are a few exceptions, you have those exceptions and that’s because they’ve attained mass market adoption and that type of thing.
IVAN: First to market, maybe.
ADAM: Exactly, first mover definitely has an advantage there. But, one of the things that I think differentiates how I think about believr is, really it’s a platform for a community of people and so, when I think about it, I think about, in terms of even having kind of a news section, articles and blog posts, kind of like a Huffington Post, if you will, but specifically for believr. And I could see us having kind of blog content associated with it. I could see us kind of even almost building out like a media arm if you will within the app too. There’s a good number of podcasters that have podcasts related to this topic. There’s a good number of other things, but there’s really no central website or central place even, for like I said, other LGBT Christians to go to. That doesn’t exist right now.
IVAN: So, you will, as a user, be encouraged to provide your real identity and not some anonymous profile that you’ve decided to create just to game the system, or to use it transactionally?
ADAM: 100%. And one of the things that we’re going to build in is the verification process. So, you’ll have to show a government issued ID, or some sort of identification that we can use to then verify your identification. It’s not going to be required, but it will be optional for people, so if you want to verify who you are as a human, you can do that. We will, though, require an actual photo of you within the application, so you’re not going to be able to just post an abs picture or something like that. [laughing]
IVAN: [laughing] Right. And, I think Airbnb does that right? You’re more trusted if you verify your identity and your qualified host, so to speak.
ADAM: Yup. I think people are very used to the blue checkmark. [laughing]
IVAN: Yeah, Verified.
ADAM: Yeah, there’d be something similar to that within the UI, so people could see that this person’s been verified and gone through that extra step. What’s definitely a concern with the community that we’ve heard to is, people are like, “listen, how do I have confidence that the person I’m actually talking to is actually the person?” And I get that. That has happened to me too, so I totally understand that.
IVAN: Let’s talk about why there’s a missing “e” in believr. I feel like we have to bring that up. [laughing] So, believr is b-e-l-i-e-v-r.
ADAM: Yup, you got it. To be frank, there’s a couple of reasons. One, I don’t know if you’ve read the book Creative Curve, but one of his thoughts behind it is, that people can get on board with something if they could relate it to something else, and so believr has a couple different relations to it. Most of these apps, these dating apps, end in an “er”. So, Tinder, those types of things, have that “er” at the very end, so it’s kind of familiar for people to have that at the very end of a dating app. So, you have that, and then also just the idea about believe. Believe is normally attached and even the word believer can be, at times, attached to Christianity and to Christians, And so, there’s familiarity with both of those, kind of, connotations within that word, to be able to help people frame what believr is. And sometimes it’s actually kind of cool, like if I talk to a gay Christian, it’s actually, they get the connection fairly easily, once I say, “hey, we’re starting a gay Christian dating app, it’s believr,” and they’re like, “oh, that makes sense.” I don’t have to fight to explain it. It makes sense to them, fairly easily.
IVAN: Where do you think believr will be, what’s your hope where believr will be a year from now?
ADAM: A year from now, my ultimate dream and goal, and I have this kind of written out and what’s posted on my wall right now, is to have an Android and IOS app launch the United States. By this time next year I would like to be in five English speaking countries too. We’re targeting Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and a couple others. So, I’m hoping to have that international by then.
IVAN: And what about five years from now?
ADAM: Five years from now I would love for us to have a presence worldwide. I’d love there to be an office, I’d love for us to have kind of a more global media platform. And then potentially even doing local meet ups, a conference. I could see us really going deep and really building community, And I think, there’s even potential to do kind of this scale, or this model of how to build a community within other related fields. I could see us branching out to other types of fields to be able to kind of build the same type of community, but just not like an LGBT+ Christian, but I can see it for other religions or other kind of different areas as well.
IVAN: That’s awesome. I think you’re onto something. I think you are filling a need on the planet. I can’t believe this hasn’t been done before.
ADAM: I know, it’s surprising to me as well. [laughing]
IVAN: [laughing] So, I read the blog post that your creative director released, the first blog post. He’s great. I love him. [laughing] He’s awesome.
ADAM: [laughing] I’m glad. He’s my best friend. I’m glad that you like him. [laughing]
IVAN: [laughing] He’s got a great way of writing. So, Brandon describes you as a pit bull that latches on and doesn’t let go until projects succeed. [laughing] And, I’ve seen you, you’re tenacious and determined, and I love that. I want to ask you, have you thought about what would give you reason to pause? A reason to stop and reevaluate believr and say, “we can’t do this. We can’t go forward”. Have you thought about that?
ADAM: Yeah. Actually, in the past three weeks. [laughing] That’s a great question. I’ve actually thought about that fairly often, well I shouldn’t say often, but there have been a couple of times where I kind of thought, is this the right thing to do and is this something that I should do, is kind of the big one for me. The last one was after, we actually soft launched believr at the QCF which is the Queer Christian Conference. This year it was in Chicago in January, which apparently the conference promoter hates everybody, because Chicago in January is just miserable. [laughing]
IVAN: Especially this year it was especially cold.
ADAM: It was very cold, and that’s okay. So, after that, there was a lot of excitement around believr which was really encouraging and I love that, but I think it became very real how much people want this and how much people need this. And this was very hard for me because that’s a lot of pressure, and that’s a lot of expectation from people and that type of thing. To be frank, I’m just starting a new job, and I love it, it’s a lot of fun. And starting another company and doing it justice and really building out the app, like how it should be built out for this type of community and for this community, they just deserve a really, really, really good app, and they deserve a really, really, really, really good experience. So, I definitely took pause and was like, “okay, is this something that I can actually do? Is this something that I should do?. Is this something that I’m capable of doing?” At the end of it, I came to a decision. I was like, “yeah, actually I think I’m uniquely capable of doing this, and I think if anybody’s going to do it, it probably should be me”. So, yeah, but I definitely took pause to think through the decision and make sure that it was something that I could commit to ultimately, because it is a commitment. It’s a commitment to these people and I know a lot of them. A lot of them are my friends, and so it’s a commitment to them and even to myself, that this is something that is needed and that is vitally important for the community that I love and work with.
IVAN: Very nicely answered. When is your next milestone? When are you launching something? What’s coming up? What should we be looking for?
ADAM: For sure, good question. That’s a hard question for me right now, just because we don’t have a firm timeline, mainly because we’re working with a bunch of people that are just volunteering their time. So, right now, the focus is really building out a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) of the application. The goal is to have that out sometime this summer. I’m hoping for early summer, but I can’t promise anything right now, just because timelines are timelines, they change consistently. So, more than likely, we’ll start to do that a little bit more this summer. You’ll probably start to see more emails coming from us, more updates. I want to do something that’s helpful. This guest podcast is helpful, so I think, we are going to do a regular update via a podcast, kind of a bi-weekly, every two weeks, every three weeks maybe, kind of update to everybody just to tell them what the progress on the app is. You’ll probably start to see some screen designs come out too, just to kind of show people what we’re building and how we’re building it. The reason why I’m being methodical about this is because, there’s a lot of very hard product decisions that I have to make, and that we have to make, to be able to build this. One such example is gender. So, gender in this space is not a binary issue by any means, and so how do I be as inclusive as I can, but yet also be efficient within a searching or matching algorithm. So, there’s some tradeoffs between providing a free form field versus providing a more selected option. So, thinking through that and making sure that, if we do provide that, making sure that people feel that they can identify with what’s on there, but also be able to feel that they have the flexibility for however they identify, to be able to select that for themselves.
IVAN: So, are you familiar with the Open Demographics Initiative?
ADAM: I am not.
IVAN: You should look that up, and all our listeners should take a peek at that as well. It’s an open standard for collecting ID and demographic data in open source communities. It’s, I guess it’s tangentially related to Drupal because we have some crossover of the people that are implementing the open demographic standards in the Drupal project, but I would very highly recommend you taking a peek to that, and if you do a google search for open demographics, you’ll see that. So, it’s a whole lot of information and kind of standards, as to how to implement gender fields, and that might be useful to you, and we’ll link to it in the transcript of the podcast.
ADAM: Yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you.
IVAN: Right. So, we got kind of a launch date coming up soon [laughing] or not, like summer. We have some hard decisions you’re going to be making. Where can be find you online?
ADAM: believr or just me?
ADAM: Yeah, so believr, it’s believr.app and then if you want just an easy way to link to all of our social media and all that type of thing, it’s believr.app/share, and there’s links to our Facebook, our Twitter, our Instagram, all that kind of fun stuff.
IVAN: That’s awesome. It’s been great talking to you Adam. Thank you so much for spending your time with me.
ADAM: Oh, it’s been a pleasure. It’s so good to talk to you. I’ve missed you. [laughing]
IVAN: [laughing] I’ve missed you too. We should do this again, very soon.
ADAM: I would enjoy that.
IVAN: Adam Evers is the founder of believr, where LGBTQ+ Christians come to find meaningful connections, dates and life partners. And you could find him online at believr.app. Adam is all over the internet as @adamevers and of course, at adamevers.com. You’ve been listening to the TEN7 Podcast. Find us online at ten7.com/podcast. And if you have a second, do send us a message. We love hearing from you. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, this is Ivan Stegic. Thank you for listening.