It’s called Xcelerate for a reason

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This is a guest blog by Josh DeNutte, Founder and CEO of Spark. Currently in the first month of the Xcelerate program, Josh shares his thoughts on taking the plunge to join BlueChilli instead of going it alone. 

How I went from a place of frustration and self-doubt to launching an MVP in a matter of weeks.  

Six months. That’s how long I spent trying to find a tech cofounder for Spark. Meetups, startup events, AngelList, even Reddit.

Everyone I talked to loved the idea, but most were already juggling 2-3 projects of their own.

I was set on finding someone who could dedicate full-time effort to the project because, as the all-knowing Ron Swanson says, “Don’t half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.” I wanted someone as committed to solving this problem as I was.

Creating the Spark

For context, Spark is makes it easier for couples to experience better date nights.

So what was I to do? I couldn’t build the platform myself – my 10 year old cousin codes better than I do. But I also knew there was a great business idea worth exploring.

Instead of stressing about finding a cofounder or spending thousands of hours learning to code, I did what I was good at instead. I spent time talking to as many couples as I could, understanding their pain points when it comes to planning a good date for each other. I took the time to explore what they absolutely hated about the date creation process.

Turns out there are LOTS of things couples get frustrated about when planning date nights (and they told me every one of them!), but overwhelmingly it was finding new or unique date ideas and the time required to research and book.

Josh from Spark
Some of the early ground work

From there I knew exactly what I wanted to solve and how I wanted to solve it, but I still couldn’t put the solution into couples’ hands.

I was up against a brick wall, shoulder-charging it just to get beat back down.

I couldn’t break through, and in the process was starting to break down myself.

Spark with BlueChilli

Then one morning I woke up to find a wrecking ball staring at this wall. It was BlueChilli. While I was exploring tech cofounder options, I did some research into accelerators. BlueChilli specialises working with non-tech founders. Their model was totally unique compared to other accelerators. The work I had done validating my problem, the solution was strong and viable enough to get me into the Xcelerate program, which utilises a dedicated team to build a MVP version of the platform and get it into couples’ hands as quickly as possible.

The team at BlueChilli don’t mess around – we’re moving rocketship fast.

We have accomplished more in a week than I could do in a month on my own.

My previous 6 months of stress, second-guessing and internal debates (“maybe this isn’t meant to be, you should just go back to a day job”) disappeared in an instant. I’m one week into the Xcelerate program and we’re looking to release our MVP next week. How’s that for an accelerator?

Spark website in the Xcelerate Program
Spark coming together

BlueChilli’s experience in creating beautiful and intuitive platforms, paired with my passion for making couples’ lives easier, has us in good stead set to conquer any obstacle in our path. I know that we’re solving a major pain point for couples, and this is just the first version of our platform. We’re already working on ways to improve Spark into the future.

For example, we’re excited to give people that heads up that we’re building Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” for date night: personalised recommendations for each couple and date night sorted in no time. Stay tuned!

About Josh DeNutte

Josh DeNutte from Spark, Xcelerate Program

Josh is a first time founder with a background in marketing & consumer insights within the tourism industry. The idea for Spark came from a conversation with his wife about whose turn it was to plan date night (it was his). When his wife said, “I wish someone would plan date night for us”, the wheels in his head started turning and they haven’t stopped since. He’ll be sharing parts of his startup process with us throughout his Xcelerate journey.