This is part of the Flux Discovery Series. Each week we feature a promising new startup on the LA scene.
This week, we interviewed Blake Arnet, the CEO of Castoff.
What does your app do?
Castoff allows users to share photos and get anonymous votes from their friends in real-time.
When did you start working on it?
The idea came about in Jan 2014, but we started working on the product and launched the company full time in Sept 2014.
What is your role in the company?
I’m a co founder and CEO. I take care of everything besides programming, but am also very involved with the product.
How did you get the idea?
I was working in digital advertising and wanted to get advice from a bunch of my friends on what blazer to wear to an industry event that week. I thought to myself, there has to be an app where I can ask multiple friends for advice. The only way is posting on Facebook where everyone can see (which I didn’t want) or mass texting, which can be a pain and the process isn’t streamlined. I searched the App Store and didn’t find an app to solve my problem, so I decided to solve it myself with the help of one of my best friends and his dad, who are both programmers. I gave them a call that day and pitched them the idea, they loved it and the rest is history!
What were some of the struggles you faced in early stages of the company?
One of the biggest struggles was figuring out the UI and UX of our app and what flow made the most sense for our users. Teens and young people are used to a certain ease and design with apps, so we had to make sure we met and exceeded the bar.
What has been the most exciting thing about the process so far?
The most exciting thing for me has been watching people’s reactions when they first used Castoff and loved it! It’s very rewarding and special, especially after we’ve dedicated over a year of our lives building this startup.
Have you raised funds?
We received some money from The Mill Accelerator program (themill.vc) we were a part of from April to June 2015. We are looking to raise our seed round in the next couple of months.
What is the big vision for the company? What does the future look like?
We want to be the world’s largest visual voting platform. We are currently working on Android and will add Castoff video later in 2016.
What are some milestones you’ve achieved?
A couple of milestones we’ve achieved so far have been launching our MVP and completing an accelerator program. Our next milestone is growing our user base 10,000 monthly active users.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?If you have an idea, do your research, build a lean smart team that can handle all foreseen challenges, and get your product out there to test until you find real product-market fit. That’s a high level overview to launch your MVP, but I’ll also add young entrepreneurs should bring on a couple of advisors (people you trust with a lot of experience in your field) to help them along the way. Their advice and connections are invaluable!