July 29, 2014
Epoque: Shout and You Shall Receive

There’s a young startup working out of WeWork on Atlantic Ave. looking to shake up the deals space by setting out to change how businesses reach customers. 

Epoque, founded by two Boston University grads and one “Mainer,” is an app that sends you real-time deals based on your mood and location. They are set to launch within a week with roughly 40 businesses and 1,000 users on board.

I recently caught up with Co-Founder Nathan Dionne to get the scoop on how this team came together, where they are now and what their aspirations are moving forward. 

Dionne is the “Mainer” of the team, oiginally from small-town Skouwhegan, ME. He is a graduate of University of Southern Maine in Portland where he remained after graduation to continue his startup, NightIQ, which was a Facebook and mobile application that makes it easier for users to plan their night lives around friends, events and locations. NightIQ originally started as a way to help his parent’s restaurant business. 

Young and “Big-headed” as he put it, he wasn’t quite ready to run and build a business. After it fluttered out he went to work for CashStar, where he worked with retailers and partners to find creative solutions and use cases for their eGifting and eCommerce platforms among other responsibilities. 

As CashStar grew rapidly, Dionne came to realize he was ready to get back into startup mode – that’s where his heart was. With experience in his first startup attempt coupled with his experience in the growth of CashStar, he felt he was ready. 

A trip to San Francisco to explore opportunities didn’t immediately lock him in to the west coast, but a trip here to Boston earlier this year landed him his co-founder, Max Alexander. 

Dionne and Alexander hit it off at a meetup in the city. Both knowing they wanted to build something little time was wasted as Dionne, right away, packed up his Portland house and moved to a friends couch in Boston (he’s excited to soon be moving into a Cambridge apartment – with a bed). 

In April, they began expanding an idea Alexander had been working on; switching the Groupon “spamming,” as he put it, model.  They’ve since raised some angel funding to get them rolling and cover their “Rent, Red Bull and Ramen” for about a year. 

Dionne has his eye on creating something unique and is excited about building a company culture – something you can really see his passion for. Excited about being a voice of company, he told me of Epoque’s vision to do things differently right down to the design of the app. They’ve implemented sounds, taken away your typical buttons and strayed from conventional functionality to create a different experience for its users. 

Being different goes beyond just the actual product and into the business as well. Dionne says he wants to be the “most transparent company out there.”  So much so that he will be posting detailed company info (term sheets, salaries, etc.) on their blog this Friday. 

Co-founders Alexander and Adam Butler were buddies from their days at Boston University. According to Dionne, Alexander is as intelligent and skilled as it gets and without Butler, who handles sales and operations, they wouldn’t even have keys to an office. 

Along with Dionne’s past experiences comes the realization (and acceptance) that what they put out this week may not, and likely will not, be the same product or business they have six months, a year down the road. 

They are going to roll Epoque out there, listen to users, track and analyze the data (Localytics is their analytics platform), see what works and grow from there. 

Dionne is confident when it comes to raising capital even with what he called a “weird concept” and realizes there may be a pivot or two before the time comes to raise money. In the meantime, he’s hoping you’ll download Epoque in the coming days, shout your mood and reap the benefits of real-time deals. 

Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter: @jb_sid