StartOut Spotlight: Rick Vidal – The Next Level of Social Sharing
VentureOut – Highlighting LGBT leaders in business.
Powered by StartOut. Written by David Duran. The following article was originally published in The Advocate.
Social media users who are ready to break free from their friend and follower silos and reach a relevant group of people easily, now have a new option with Reachably. Reachably is “smarter real-time sharing.” People and companies who want to reach others freely and get more from their sharing, without being contained to only using #hashtags to categorize topics, or @mentions to reach specific individuals are now looking to Reachably for a more efficient manner of communicating socially. “There are billions of us online and sharing daily, yet we don’t have an easy way to reach each other smartly – so we created one,” said founder and CEO, Rick Vidal. Reachably’s “@tags” are the only way to reach whoever you like instantly, whether you need better opinions and recommendations or just want to share with likeminded people who care about what you are posting. “We’ve evolved social sharing from following people to engaging smartly around our tastes, interests, backgrounds and expertise – anything that’s meaningful to you,” said Vidal.
By creating a profile and adding “@tags” to your account such as “@techie, @loveto-cook or @newyorker,” for example, they capture who you are and your interests Whenever you share, the “@tags” are attached to your posts, identifying who you would like to hear from. Folks who have added those “@tags” to their profiles will receive the post and join the conversation. Vidal added, “You can have a meaningful exchange with a relevant group of people without all the fuss of having to gather followers or fans, or being limited to hearing from just them!”
Building the “right team” wasn’t easy for Vidal as tech startups run lean, particularly in their first year. Finding a team of developers, designers, and marketers that was “talented, loyal, passionate, and willing for work for salaries lower than those at established tech companies,” was a major undertaking for him. “Despite all the effort I put into having a structured approach to recruitment, it's funny to look back and realize how haphazardly and luckily we came together – I found my lead designer on a casual reddit post and met my chief developer at a random bar,” said Vidal. The long hours and deadlines made for challenges, but Vidal and his team found creative ways to have fun and keep each other motivated. One event was a game day full of fun mental and physical challenges, from scavenger hunts and “nerdy” tech puzzles, to cook-offs and runway walks, appropriately titled, “Reachably Olympics.”
Vidal has attended numerous StartOut events, primarily for social and networking purposes. He most recently pitched at StartOut’s first ever Demo Day in NYC. “It was fun; I had 3 minutes to pitch Reachably to a crowd of fellow StartOut supporters and a panel of NYC investors,” said Vidal. After the event, several of the members and investors attended their official launch party. “Having a group of motivated, well-connected and supportive gay entrepreneurs in NYC has been incredible,” he said. Vidal also connected with Darren Spedale, one of StartOut’s founders since attending the events. “He’s particularly been a helpful thought partner and facilitated introductions to mentors and potential investors that would have otherwise taken me months to reach.”
Reachably currently has three full-time employees and four marketing/PR interns. They are currently not in e-commerce, therefore it’s too early to value the business. In January, they will be kicking off several partnerships with major retailers, shops and bloggers. “We’re also hoping on completing our Android app in early spring,” said Vidal.
Vidal who is 33, has been married to his pro bono Legal Counsel, Matt Vidal for two and a half years. He came out at the age of 26 during the middle of his MD/MBA program at UPenn. Vidal suggests to other newcomer LGBT entrepreneurs to surround themselves with people that love and challenge them as well as taking the time to reflect often and celebrate every moment of the experience. “Being a founder can be an incredibly lonely experience if you don't have the right support network, and some founders get trapped feeling like they have no outlet for their stress,” said Vidal, “…they can't reach out to investors and risk decreasing their confidence; they don't want to share it with their team and impact their morale and they don't want to burden family and friends.” He feels having the right support from other entrepreneurs who have shared in that experience and can provide meaningful advice is critical. “I started building this community the moment I started working on Reachable and now enjoy mentoring others that have just embarked down the same path.”
For more information on Reachably, visit www.reachably.com.