{un}convention San Francisco: Introducing Jen Aprahamian + VINA!

Our panel at (un)convention is made up of three amazing business owners who we absolutely adore. They will be sharing their best tips for finding your ideal clients, running a successful business, and generally how to rock. Today we're introducing one of our panelists, Jen Aprahamian, co-founder of VINA!

What were the main steps between having your idea and making it a reality?

Product-market fit was always something we really wanted to be sure of, and from day 1 we've been asking and re-asking ourselves, "Is this something that women are going to enjoy and find useful?" Before really getting too far into the code, I spent a lot of time doing user research with my cofounder — we even hand-matched hundreds of volunteers across the Bay Area. I'm so glad we did this; several of our core mechanics came out of this experience (the personality quizzes are the big one!), and we really got to learn a lot about how women find and make friends, what they prioritize, and what might cause them to feel discouraged during the process. We knew that we were going to need to keep involving users at every step, and we've been iterating based on their feedback. 

We started prototyping last fall, and then I spent the next several months building out our MVP. I guess the "reality" point happened with our App Store launch this January, but we haven't stopped building, improving, and listening to user feedback. We're currently in the process of developing out some of our more exciting features (more sophisticated match algorithms, new quizzes, and more personalized introductions/recommendations), so the app that came out of that initial idea is constantly evolving and getting better.

What are the biggest pleasures of your job? What could you do without?

Honestly, I think the best part of the job is getting to interact with our users. Everyone on the team is active on the app, and we love hanging out with our new vinas!  We also have an amazing set of test users who vet new features for us -- they're so communicative and helpful, and it's been wonderful having them on board. The second best part is indulging my inner mad scientist with new feature design/development. I could do without the sleep debt. I've definitely had my share of sleepless nights getting code to ship.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I think at various points the list included adventurer, astronaut, diplomat, archaeologist, spy, and mystery novelist. Once I discovered video games, I wanted to be a game programmer, and that's what really got me on the engineering track.

What’s your drink of choice?

I'm a gin girl. I recently fell in love with a cocktail called the "Barbarella" that has all sorts of interesting things mixed in (an apertif wine, a whole strawberry, and absinthe), but a splash of tonic and a lime wedge is a-ok, too. 

What’s one thing about you that people would be surprised to know?

I almost (really) ran away to join the circus! I trained on trapeze, silks, and aerial hoop.