Lori Cheek is an architect turned entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Cheekd, a mobile dating app that makes missed connections obsolete. After working in architecture, furniture and design for 15 years, she came up with an idea that lead her into the NYC World of Tech and she is now solving missed connections.
Cheekd reimagines online dating with a new app that makes missed connections obsolete. Cheekd uses a cross-platform low energy Bluetooth technology, which fosters hyper local engagement. The app connects people in real time, versus virtual time. Connections begin in person; Cheekd helps you take the next step and continue the conversation online.
Mike: Cheekd.com is a great brandable domain name in my opinion. What makes it even cooler is that your last name is Cheek! When did it dawn on you that it would be a great name for this app?
Lori: Growing up with the last name Cheek was kind of a pain in the butt (excuse the pun) “cheeks,” but it finally came in handy. For months before launching my business, I was racking my brain about the verb that was going to finish the statement, “you’ve been _________.” and then one day it hit me in the head— You’ve been “Cheekd!” The word is now in Wikipedia. Although my business has been through several different iterations over the years, now, if our users are interested in each other on the app, they press the “GET CHEEKY” button and they are then able to unlock further information about each other and can begin a conversation on the app.
Mike: How does Cheekd differ from other dating apps like Tinder?
Lori: Cheekd sets itself apart from other apps because it gives you the option to interact with a match before starting a virtual relationship with the compatible user. After setting up your profile and filters of what you’re looking for, Cheekd will then send you notifications when a potential match is nearby. Instead of encouraging users to continue to hide behind a screen, Cheekd pushes you to engage in social settings while paying attention to potential matches in the area. Our new dating app gives us the power to light the spark face-to-face first and leave the online talking for later. And because Cheekd uses Bluetooth, it doesn’t require an Internet connection to function.
Mike: How many users are on the platform?
Lori: We don’t share this information publicly at this time but we have users all over the world, which is quite exciting for us.
Mike: You also own your own name, loricheek.com, which is something I recommend to everyone. It’s a smart, personal branding move. How are you using the name to your advantage?
Lori: I am using loricheek.com for so many different things. I do a lot of public speaking engagements all over the world, have done some modeling and acting so basically using it as a platform for all that I do.
Mike: Were you able to register this name or was it purchased on the aftermarket?
Lori: I got it about eight years ago so was fortunate no one with my same “cheeky” name beat me to it.
Mike: Coming up with an App idea is a dream many people have. As a former architect, I’m going to assume you don’t have an extensive app development background. How were you able to make that dream a reality?
Lori: Upon starting out, I really had no idea what it took to build a business, but I’ve taken a crash course by building one. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve failed over the past nine years. In the process, I’ve had doubters ask me in hundreds of different ways when I’m going to pull the plug. Luckily, I’m extremely stubborn and these doubts have only fueled me to strive even harder for success. I’ve learned to welcome mistakes and even joke that I’ve learned so much from them that I’m going to keep making more of them on purpose so I keep getting smarter.
A few years ago, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at a tech conference in Belfast. If you’d told me ten years ago I’d be speaking about technology in front of hundreds of people, I would have told you that you were an insane person. Now it’s one of my major gigs. Education is often more about living it than learning it.
Mike: How long have you been building the business and how would you describe the journey this far?
Lori: After working in architecture, furniture and design for 16 years, I came up with an idea over ten years ago that led me into the NYC world of technology and dating. I completely threw away my design career and I’m no longer building structures, I’m now building relationships. Cheekd has been the most powerful thing that’s ever happened to me. Building this business has been an incredible learning experience. I’ve taken a major risk (both financially & mentally) and surrendered my career in architecture & design, but my heart and mind are in this project every waking moment. I’ve never been more dedicated to anything. Despite the occasional overwhelming stress, it’s been loads of fun. I feel like I’m living the American Dream—I’ve given birth to an invention. I’ve gone from 16 years of helping others build their dreams to a life finally dedicated to building my own. It’s the most rewarding feeling.
Mike: Do you have a favorite “match up story” that your app is responsible for?
Lori: Not that I know of yet, but when I see the first wedding announcement, you can trust I’ll find myself at the wedding! Hopefully it will be my own!