Episode 76 – Chandra Arthur
Founder at Friendish
Tell us about yourself and what you do?
My name is Chandra Arthur, and I’m the founder and Chief Friending Officer at Friendish. The app is designed to eliminate the bias in friend finding that hopes to dismantle the shallow dating app dynamic for Millennials and Gen Z.
How was your experience on Planet of the Apps.
Planet of the Apps was crazy amazing! The show was my first experience of doing anything of that magnitude, and I honestly felt superly blessed to be selected. There were so many great teams and app ideas (definitely check out the show, we’re episode 6!), so it could’ve easily not worked in our favor. The exposure definitely re-charted our progress and trajectory and we couldn’t be more thrilled with all of the positives that have come from it, most importantly having a lot more actively engaged users on the platform now who are able to connect with new friends based on shared interests. On the flip side, our outcome unfortunately wasn’t what I’d hoped for with Lightspeed Ventures, so we’ve launched an Indiegogo to try and crowdfund some of the very necessary funds we need now to fill some essential roles. I think I learned most from the experience and my advisor, that you have to get real with your shortcomings and own them before someone else tries to cripple you with them and expose your weaknesses. Don’t put lipstick on a pig! If you’ve got bad traction (or none), own up to it. And have a well thought out plan for how you plan to improve. There’s no shame in admitting that you don’t have it all figured out. But if you try to make your way always covering up and making excuses, experienced people will see that and probably be less likely to take you and your idea or company seriously.
What was an obstacle you faced and how did you overcome that obstacle?
So the biggest obstacle I’ve faced and still currently face is not being a technical founder. Yes, I’m the founder of a cool mobile app, but because I don’t write code (yet), we’ve had to outsource engineering which has led to a disjointed user experience for our community. No one cares more about our UX than me, but it’s debilitating and feels crippling sometimes to not be able to go into the app and fix key functionality that is causing a drop off for users. I don’t know that we’ve yet to overcome that obstacle. One thing I’m good at is motivating and influencing people around the idea of Friendish. Luckily for me, that’s meant finding at the very least, bare minimum engineering talent to get us an updated MVP. The app is far from perfect but much improved from what it was during the filming of the show for instance. *But we’re open to super skilled engineers who’d like to help, get at me!*
What was your perception of the tech industry before entering it, what is your perception now?
My perception of the tech industry before entering it was that it was the best and only place to be. My perception is still more or less the same, but now I also recognize the disparity for Black women in tech and Black founders as a whole.
Someone recently asked me during an interview what it’s like being a Black woman in tech. I told them it’s like being a Black woman at the grocery store [or at a PWI]. You’re isolated at times, not taken seriously, considered less than but you still show up unapologetically Black in your head wrap with pride knowing you’ll have to do 3x as much, you may be asked to fix something you had no hand in breaking and will have to make your way.
Black women (at least where I come from in the American South) know as early as they know what knowing is, that we’re going to have to fight, for everything. So in some ways, I think we’re more prepared for the hostile fundraising, and tech culture environments we face, as sad as that may be.
What are three tips you can give to high school/college students who want to enter tech?
Three tips I would give to high school/college students who want to enter tech are:
1) Learn how to code! It’s one of my weaknesses and when you become an adult and have to focus on keeping the lights on and eating you have less time to “try” to learn a new skill because the real world is about survival.
2) Ask (politely) for what you want and be fearless about your future.
3) Add value to people, places, and experiences.
I always say “Engineering is the only life skill. You have to figure out how to make things work.”