From an Everyday Struggle to a Niched App Product

Meet Jackie and Josh DeNutte, a recently married couple living in Sydney and happy founders of Spark. We sat down with them to ask them about coming up with their app idea and their journey to become app entrepreneurs.

They both have non-technical backgrounds. Josh is a researcher and focuses on improving policy and regulations at the State level. Some of his work involved looking into startup companies and how these new company structures work within the law. Jackie has worked in marketing and consumer insights for the last 7 years and now focuses on delivering consumer research and insights to marketing teams.

Between their busy lives, gravitating between work, social commitments, exercise and volunteering, they soon realised they had little time to plan for themselves fun dates to go on.

From that dread of spending hours googling date ideas, the idea for Spark was born. After all, “what if” questions are great starting points to finding solutions and creating products. Spark is what came out of asking “What if there was an app that could suggest date ideas based on a couple’s interests and location?” Read along to discover how one simple question became the foundation of building Spark.

How did your journey as an app entrepreneur start and how was your idea born?

The idea for Spark originated with a conversation we were having about spending more quality time together. We wanted to go on more dates, but it was difficult finding the time to plan for them. We were so busy with work, social commitments, exercise and volunteering that we were forgetting an important part of our relationship: going out on actual dates.

The starting point was answering that perennial question: Hey, what are we going to do tonight?

We searched online for date ideas that we could both get excited about, but it just felt overwhelming with the sheer number of suggestions from What’s On websites.

We wished there was an app that already knew what we’d like, so we wouldn’t have to sift through all these possibilities. And that’s when we realised we could create it. And that’s how Spark was born.

We believe every couple is unique and your dates should reflect that. And there’s nothing unique about Google searching date ideas or scrolling through thousands of What’s On listings to find inspiration. Spark takes the hassle out of planning dates, acting as your personal date concierge. The more you use the app, the smarter it becomes in delivering incredible date ideas created specifically for you and your partner. So it really reduces the amount of time currently spent by couples trying to plan their dates.

How did you find out about Hyper? What was it like working with our team?

So we had our idea and we thought to ourselves ‘Now what do we do?’

We found Hyper while searching online for different companies that could help us with our idea. We actually spoke with a couple of large agencies before Hyper, but we quickly found out that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. While the larger agencies were confident in delivering an app to marketplace, they lacked any sort of personal touch.

Hyper worked to understand our vision for Spark and helped us validate our idea and create a step-by-step roadmap. Working with Hyper was like having a group of mentors at our disposal. Validating the idea and building the prototype was a collaborative effort and we’re really happy with how Spark has grown and how much we’ve learned in the process.

And to take that a bit further, Hyper helped us elevate Spark from just an idea into something tangible. They applied unique designs to both the prototype and the landing page. The way people are gonna interact with Spark is completely different from how dates are traditionally planned.

Working with Hyper has been priceless for us. It’s the best investment an entrepreneur can make. It highlights the fact that you don’t necessarily need a technical co-founder while you’re beginning your journey. Hyper understood our strengths from the beginning and knew where they could have the biggest impact in helping us succeed in creating Spark.

How has your journey been so far? What are you planning for the future?

We’ve completed the prototype for Spark, and we’ve launched the landing page, sparkapp.com.au. We’re really happy with the way our landing page turned out thanks to Hyper and we encourage everyone to check it out and sign up.

Our next steps are about driving awareness of the Spark app and building a community of people who are ready to use Spark and take the hassle out of date planning. We’ve secured partnerships with Sydney’s most popular restaurants and activity spots to provide couples with bespoke date night activities and help them plan amazing dates in just a few taps. Our partners are helping us create truly unique dates for couples who want to keep the spark alive in their relationship

We’ve also been keeping in touch with our community through the blog. It’s a great way to share lots of date ideas for those who live in Sydney and also a bit of relationship advice for those couples looking to strengthen their bond through increased communication (which happens on dates!).

Before Valentine’s Day, we’ll be running #12hoursofvalentines on our Instagram and Facebook, which gives one fun Valentine date idea per hour for guys who forgot about Valentine’s Day. It’s a bit humorous, but it also comes with some great date ideas that can still be pulled off on short notice!

What’s the one tip you’d to someone who has an app idea but hasn’t taken any steps towards making it real?

If there’s one tip I could give someone who has an idea and hasn’t started working on it yet, it’s to get out there and talk to people: friends, family, the bartender, your Uber driver, literally, anyone who will listen to you. See if your idea has legs. Honestly, nobody’s going to steal it.

Before we took one step, we sent out a survey to just over 100 of our friends to just try to help us understand how they currently go about planning dates with their partner and what their current frustrations are. And without talking to people, we wouldn’t have really known what people wanted out of Spark. We were also surprised how many of our friends offered to help us out in their own areas of expertise.

Building an app is definitely a journey and it starts by having confidence in your idea and taking that first step.

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