Don’t always listen to those who love you: When I first told people I wanted to build this dating app and reject a job offer I had lined up, I was told not to do it by the people around me. Although I’m sure it came from a place of love, it is sometimes best to respectfully ignore their advice and follow your gut.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vihan Patel.
One of the UK’s most exciting, up and coming young entrepreneurs, Vihan Patel is the 22 year old CEO and Co-Founder of POM (Power Of Music), the dating app for music lovers.
Born from a love for music and the fatigue of today’s superficial, gamified and impersonal dating apps, POM is a dating app that seeks to match users based on shared emotional responses to music, aiming to forge more meaningful connections. POM already has over 17,000 users signed up to it’s waiting list, and over 2,000 new people joining each week. POM goes beyond a traditional dating app offering real life experiences and actively encouraging their users to go on dates curated by POM. The first of which, the launch night for POM Presents: POM PARTIES, takes place on 5th of August at Night Tales, Hackney and features a DJ set from Shanti Celeste. Visit www.discoverpom.com for more information.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
POM was born after my time at university where I was your typical “club promoter” trying to sell tickets to all my friends. I soon realised that the so-called benefits of becoming a promoter were really not worth the toll it was taking on my relationships with my peers. After some consideration, I decided that it wouldn’t be too out of reach to start my own events company, so I rented a venue, hired a DJ and got the ball rolling! I used my experience as a promoter and some well placed ads to sell as many tickets as possible, low and behold the event sold out and prompted me to keep the momentum going.
Fast forward a few years and I was still using a similar model to hold events across the country, but this time with a difference. As the music changed I noticed that the attendees were different and their interactions with one another was different. The pandemic hit and I decided to move the model online — and POM was born.
I approached my now co-founder, Vlad, and we spent 10 weeks building and working on this project and, after a lot of outreach, secured 9 amazing investors.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
As you heard, the journey to POM was a long one and is still in its early stages, Building the platform through the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted the process a lot, however, one of the most interesting stories that has really stuck with me is the moment our lead investor agreed to fill the remainder of the round after only 3 hours of meeting us. We had to contain our excitement (and there was a lot of it to contain!) until we were clear of the meeting. I will never forget the calm walk back to the car, and the subsequent exclamation of pure joy that came from myself and Vlad! It really was the best feeling in the world to know that all the time spent in meetings and fine-tuning the project was worth it after all.
Can you tell us about the cutting-edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
POM uses people’s emotional response to music in order to match users. You login through your favourite music streaming platform (Spotify or Apple for example), and our algorithm does the rest. We paint an emotional profile of the users based on the music they listen to.
Data collected and analysed by the app includes the type of music a person listens to, when they listen to it, their emotional reaction to music and what this says about their character! Unlike a lot of the dating apps out there at the moment — all very focused on short term validation and connections — we’re using our tech to try and encourage users to forge more meaningful connections, hopefully that will last a lifetime!
How do you think this might change the world?
At POM, we believe that dating should involve more than just an initial reaction to a profile that has been tailored to please. Our aim is to change the world of dating and we truly believe that music is the way to do that. There is no hiding; your full music playlist is shared and your emotional responses are taken into account to curate the best dating experience, with the best outcomes. Through the ages music has been the common thing that has brought people together, it is all around us whether we notice it or not. After all, even your heart has a beat. For the most part it has the power to show how you feel when words can’t and if that doesn’t scream (or sing!) love, then I don’t know what does.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
I think people need to think more deeply about dating technology in general and the effect it is having on their relationships. Emotions are so private and personal that giving people access to them so freely without really knowing them is something to be cautious of. At POM we treat people’s emotional profiles like we would treat their bank details, they are strictly private and never shared with third parties. Who our users choose to share them with is completely their choice, we can only hope that it leads to a positive outcome.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
Although POM has been in the works for a while in some form or another, I think my experience as an event host really opened my eyes to the effect that music can have on our ability to forge emotional connections. For the last event I hosted before the end of my degree I decided to run with a slightly different genre of music than I would usually; as soon as the first person walked through the door I could tell this would not be like any other event I’ve run before.
The attendees dressed differently, danced differently, interacted with each other differently and even drank different drinks. This is where I noticed that the music you listen to goes beyond just which artists you like, but more-so who you are as a person. As I watched attendees interacting with one another, I knew this was more than just a coincidence, it was something special.
Although many months followed this, planning and creating, more planning and more planning, this experience is something that i’ll never forget.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
We still have a lot in the works for the future but up to now we have run multiple out of home advert campaigns that have been really successful. Our most prominent one to date was the “send playlists, not nudes” campaign that went out across London. That got some really great results and I think really focused on a problem that many users of other dating apps face, whilst really honing in on what POM is. We have also worked with some incredible upcoming music talent (such as Hope Tala, Holly Humberstone, Dyologue, Alfie and Lowertown). Our social media is creative, up to date, modern and designed to be inviting, educational and inclusive.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I think the most important person on this journey has been my Dad, he’s been the sounding board throughout this entire process. He’s inspired me to want to strive for running my own business and is the definition of ‘nothing comes without work’.
Internally, our lead investor, Alison, has been and continues to be amazing. From selling a business to one of the largest private equity firms in the world, to having one of her own businesses go public she really has done it all. She has opened hundreds of doors for us, stopped us from making quite a few mistakes but also has taught us many valuable lessons. There have been instances where she would spot a mistake or bad decision on the horizon but let us make it and subsequently learn from it. She knows that some things can only be learned after you’ve made the mistake. A truly incredible woman!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Despite the success of POM so far, I think I’ve got a long way to go before I reach a point where I am successful enough to make a real difference in the world. However, my first paycheck went to my local Temple. It is so important to me to boost the local economy and look after those close to me.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each).
- Don’t always listen to those who love you: When I first told people I wanted to build this dating app and reject a job offer I had lined up, I was told not to do it by the people around me. Although I’m sure it came from a place of love, it is sometimes best to respectfully ignore their advice and follow your gut.
- Don’t hire your friends if you know they’re not good enough: I hired a friend who had an evident lack of skill and experience but wanted to believe that they would be up to the job. This ended very badly to say the least.
- You can’t do everything on your own: I always thought I could start, build, market and lead POM on my own. Boy was I wrong! Only once I brought on people 100x more experienced/qualified did I learn my lesson.
- Ask for forgiveness rather than permission: If you believe something, do it. Asking for forgiveness is a lot easier (pride aside) than the regret of not doing something because someone said no.
- Be selfish: Not everyone will understand why you can’t come out or meet up, or why you don’t have time to chat in the middle of the day. You’ve got to learn to be selfish and work hard towards your goals, even if it means you lose a few friends along the way. Those who stay are those worth having.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think that more opportunities to discover unconventional career paths at school would make such a refreshing change. The education system in the UK has been the same for a long time and I think that giving students the chance to explore new industries at a time when they can do it securely and with guidance would produce so many bright minds.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you want the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain” — When things get tough, that quote always comes back to me and reminds me that in order to get where you want to be (i.e the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow) the only way is to work hard and put up with the less pleasant parts of the process (endure the rain). You can’t cheat a rainbow, as there is no shortcut to success.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
POM harnesses the power of music, channelling it into an exciting inclusive app which delivers genuine, meaningful connections based on a shared love of the same music. In a dating scene dominated by swipe lefts and swipe rights, we like to do things differently. POM matches users based on their emotions. Using the emotional indicators embedded within users’ music taste, we have developed a first of it’s kind emotional detection algorithm.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@discoverpom on all social media.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
Thank you very much for having me.