A Year and a Day

This is going to be a very self indulgent post, and I make no apologies for that. When you have a job like this (Hi, I’m John, founder and technical lead of BristlrM14) it’s very easy to sail past milestones without flinching, continuing to run as fast as you can away from trouble.

I’m sat in bed, on a rainy Manchester day, about to carry a hastily decorated store-brand cake through the damp to a small gathering of friends to celebrate a year-and-a-day since Bristlr launched. And I’m taking the opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the last 12 months through the power of statistics. This is a blend of vanity and therapy.

Year 1, by the numbers

  • Members: 115,000
  • Matches: 500,000
  • Beard ratings: 1,300,000
  • Messages : 1,000,000
  • Pageviews: 39,500,000
  • Unique visitors: 500,000
  • Countries: 187
  • Top 5 countries: USA (32%), UK (22%), Brazil (13%), Netherlands (10%), Canada (6%)
  • Top 5 cities: London, Sao Paulo, New York, Amsterdam, Chicago
  • Desktop users: 22%
  • iPhone users: 37%
  • Largest traffic spike: December 26th, 3am GMT
  • Funds raised (excluding director’s loans): £28,000
  • Verticals: 1 (and a half?)
  • Full-time staff: 1
  • Freelance staff: 9
  • Git repositories: 16
  • Git commits: 2,600
  • Individual services (Heroku apps): 25
  • Database nodes: 2
  • Primary database file size: 8GB
  • User-facing errors generated: 7,400
  • Cumulative downtime: 1 hour, 57 minutes (99.98% uptime)
  • Cups of coffee drunk: 900
  • Miles driven: 10,000
  • Car parts replaced: Tire, spare tire & hub, clutch, coolant header tank, exhaust shield, windscreen wipers x 4
Our birthday cake
Our birthday cake

These numbers are good at showing where we’ve been and how much we’ve achieved. But they’re basically useless for predicting our future. We’ve been busier than people realise, and we have big plans and expectations for the next 12 months. My goal is to improve on all of these metrics at least ten fold.

The past year has been littered with happenstance, luck, chance encounters, and supportive friends and family. Whilst I can’t thank everyone individually, I do want to say thank you to everyone who has helped put us where we are today, and everyone who’s taken a chance on us.

Happy birthday.

Bristlr’s going speed dating in London this Movember

We’re off speed dating! We’re teaming up with SpeedDater for a special evening of speed dating, with all money going to charity.

If you can make it to London on NMovember 27th, get yourself a ticket! 100% of the ticket price is going to the Movember Foundation.

The event will see you paired with various potential partners, all with a love of the beard. On arrival you’ll be greeted by a SpeedDater and/or Bristlr host and given a badge that’ll match you with your table. Every time the bells rings those with beards will rotate around, and you’ll have a card to mark on who takes your fancy. After the event you simply log on to SpeedDater’s website and you’ll be able to see all your matches from the evening. Fun, right!?

All we ask is that you make sure to get permission before commencing any beard fondling.

Tickets are £10 each and available here. Get them quick as there’s only a limited number of places available.

If you’re not familiar with them, SpeedDater launched in London in September 2002 and has grown into Europe’s largest organiser of singles nights, specifically speed dating events. They hold regular events in over 40 UK cities.

See you in London!

A Bristlr Success Story – Clint & Jennifer

Not one week after our last success story, we’ve had another wonderful couple come forward to thank us after they met on Bristlr. Say hello to Clint and Jennifer!

unnamed“Jennifer and I have a bit of a unique story. Jennifer’s friend had told her about Brisltr, so she decided to join up. I was already a member at the time, looking for that special beard lover. I spotted her on the site and got in touch.

Nearly a year later we’re still together, thanks to Bristlr! We’ve even started a business together in the beard industry! We’ve formed an LLC called Templar Beard Company selling beard oils and other beard products. 

Bristlr, we thank you for the love we found – without you our paths would have never crossed.” 

Awwwww! That last bit has just made our week, thank you Clint and Jennifer! We wish you nothing but success with your relationship and Templar Beard Company!

And whilst we’re on the subject, are you looking for quality beard care products? Why not visit Templar Beard Company? We’ll be sampling their products soon!

All the best to your, Clint and Jennifer!

A Bristlr Success Story – Pieter & Rianne

We’ve had another one of those lovely e-mails. That’s right, another success story to make your feel all warm and bristly inside! This story comes from Pieter and Rianne. Pieter was also kind enough to help us translate our GooglePlay description in to Dutch – now that’s gratitude! So for our Dutch fans, you know who to thank!

Here’s Pieter’s story:

“I was at the gym with a good friend and he told me about this app called Bristlr – an app for bearded people to find others the liked beards. That sounded pretty cool to me, so a few weeks later I decided to download it (after a lot of persuasion from my friend!).

Bristlr’s kind of like Tinder, but the people on there are much more fun! I chatted to a few people and made some connections. It’s cool to be able to talk to so many like minded people! Awesome stuff!

After some time I met a girl. We kept talking for a while and she seemed really interested – you know how dating apps can be, usually the guy shows interest first. We eventually swapped numbers and eventually we went on our fist date. Now, she’s my girlfriend!”

Rianne has her own side to the story:

“I’d used a few dating apps and been on a few dates, but none of that seemed right for me. Then on Facebook I saw something; an app that had lots of men with beards!

So, I joined Bristlr. I could tell instantly it was different; I had actual conversations! With bearded guys! And they weren’t all just obsessed with one thing …

After a while of browsing and chatting someone new popped up. It had been a while so I was starting to give up hope on a nice date, but we talked and talked. I thought, ‘heck, let’s try it!’

Now you can see for yourself, we’re happy!”

How sweet is that? Everyone at Bristlr wishes you both all of the happiness!

Bristlr, bringing people together.

Celebrating Bristlr!

Did you know that the idea that grew into the Bristlr you know and love happened exactly a year ago today? Now you do!

Just a few weeks after the idea was born, Bristlr officially launched. Since then with the help of you beard lovers out there we’ve grown in to much more than just an idea.

Just for fun, here’s a list of the names that were thrown in to the hat before Bristlr became Bristlr:

  • BeardWithFriends
  • BeardTouchingExchange
  • BeardX
  • XBeard
  • StrokeBeardToUnlock
  • ToBeard
  • NiceBeard
  • StrokeMyBeard
  • EveningBeard
  • ToBeardOrNotToBeard.com

Aren’t you glad we went with “Bristlr”?

In less than a year we’ve had countless success stories, in total making half a million matches, our big #BareYourBeard competition which made some beard owners very happy (and popular!), we’ve had international press coverage and recognition, been through Europe’s best pre-seed start-up accelerator, and we even had a party to celebrate 100,000 Bristlr users. We’ve come a long way, and are continuing to grow from strength to strength.

So, with our birthday coming up this month we’ve certainly got a lot to celebrate! That’s right, if we’ve learned one thing this past year, it’s knowing when to party.

But what kind of party would it be without guests? If it weren’t for our beard fans, we wouldn’t be here today. So we want to invite you to our year-and-a-day party to say thanks. Free up your Saturday 24th this month and come on down to Manchester’s SpaceportX, we’re throwing a party!

To get in, just mark yourself as attending on our Facebook event. See you there!

stuff and things
From an idea to an app, competitions to parties and plenty of Instagram loving! We’ve come a long way!

#BareYourBeard Winner

We’ve come a long way, but finally we can announce the winner of our #BareYourBeard competition on what will be someone’s most magical #WorldBeardDay yet!

But before that, let’s take a quick look back to all the entrants that showed off their bristles. With a few honourable mentions to our dedicated overseas fans that unfortunately couldn’t take part and many entries from beardy guys up and down the country, we were truly overwhelmed with the responses!

And now, one month since #BareYourBeard began, we can finally make someone’s day!

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Sophie from Photograph Art Studio 25 and Samuel from the Bristlr team!

Now before we jump right in we have one big thank you to add – We couldn’t have done our photo shoots if not for our friend Photograph Art Studio 25! With her amazing photographic skills, our buddy Sophie captured all of our finalists, and their beards, in their best light. Couldn’t resist a quick selfie opportunity to commemorate the day. We look forward to working with you again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s take a look at our finalists:

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Joseph brought fierce moustache game, with curls to make any facial hair fanatic jealous. He told us he loved Brisltr because it united him with his current boyfriend. A sweet story, a handsome face and a truly enviable set of face furniture.

(Twitter: @joey_seph Instagram: @joey_seph)

 

 

 

 

 

4

Chris was a last minute entrant that really caught our eye, not just with the beard but those sassy eyebrows. With a punk look, and a finely shaped beard you might not expect to find a heart of gold. However, Chris was approachable, fun and really got in to the photo shoot. His line “#BareYourBeard before your beard bares you,” still keeps us entertained.

(Twitter: @RorschachBeard  Instagram: @RorschachBeard)

 

 

 

 

 

2d

Dougie was one of our few Instagram entrants based in the UK! The length of beautiful beard came all the way from Norwich. With him he brought a friendly demeanor, and shared a touching story of how much the chance at being a beard model meant to him. To top it all off, he’s even provided us with a beard oil recipe!

(Twitter: @Dougie_LRKs  Instagram: @dougie_archer)

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a tough choice we’ve got to make. All of our finalists took the time to show us their stuff, and they all worked the camera, serving fierce beard game in their photo shoots. But there can be only one winner! We’ve kept an eye on Twitter, and we’ve seen you all make some noise for your favourites.

Our choice isn’t made on beard game alone – we evaluated our finalists before, during and after their photo shoots. Nothing too scary, but of course we’re not going to choose our winner based on looks alone! We’re not a superficial bunch.

So. Drum roll please. Without further ado, our winner is…

10d

Dougie! 

With a story of a supporting mother that really wanted him to go on to become a beard model, our competition helped Dougie on that journey as his first modelling gig! Not only that, Dougie came loaded with tips and tricks. We were most impressed with his beard oil recipe, not to mention his own method of temporary beard colouring! This won’t be the last you hear of Dougie either – we’ve talked about getting him back to do guest entries for our blog, so who knows what his next beard tip will be?

Our lucky winner will be receiving – a beard pampering set from Beard Lab, a beard pampering session from a nearby barbers, a selection of prints from the #BareYourBeard photo shoot and a whole lot of publicity from us! We wish you all the success in your modelling pursuits, Dougie!

Now we can’t forget about our runners up, Joe and Chris – your time with us was not wasted! In addition to your own publicity from us, you’ll also receive a digital selection of the prints from your #BareYourBeard photo shoot, and some scented beard oil from Beard Lab! We hope you’ll both keep in touch!

Until then, thank you so much to ALL of our entrants for getting involved, our fans keeping the hype up and our finalists for taking the time out of your schedules to get involved with our photo shoots. We hope you’ve enjoyed the experience as much as we have! And of course, we couldn’t have done it without Sophie from Photograph Art Studio 25!

Thank you! Keep an eye out, our next competition could be just around the corner!

Home Made Beard Oil!

Fresh from his #BareYourBeard photo shoot, Dougie here has passed on a few tips for us, and to all of you! Here’s a quick and easy guide on how to make your own beard oil. Before you ask, it won’t turn your beard blue and purple… That’s just a cool picture.

Before we get in to the beard oil, credit where it’s due! This handy tip comes from Dougie, you can find him and his lovely beard on Instagram @dougie_archer and Twitter @Dougie_LRKs.

Okay, before you get started you’ll need:

  • Pure Coconut Oil, we’d recommend this, but feel free to experiment!
  • A bottle or two of scented essential oils.
  • A big-ish bowl and a little bowl (that can stand boiling water!). Make sure the little bowl floats.
  • A selection of small pots/jars.

With all that in place, you’re ready to start making your own beard oil!

Step 1 – Fill the big bowl with boiling water.

Step 2 – Put some of the solid coconut oil into the smaller bowl and place that bowl inside the boiling water bowl. Watch as the coconut oil melts! Magic.

Step 3 – Put a few drops of your scented essential oil in to melted coconut oil. Want a potent smell? Put more in!

Step 4 – Carefully remove the bowl of oil from the big boiling water bowl and pour the oil in to one of your small pots/jars then wait for it to set.

BOOM! You’ve got yourself some beard oil made with your own two hands with a scent you love! What’s to stop you from making more? NOTHING! Use up the rest of that coconut oil making beard oils with other scents, or maybe mix scents. When you’ve got some coconut oil, a big bowl, a little bowl, a selection of scented essential oils and a few pots/jars to put your beard oils in the possibilities are endless!!

When you want to use it, just scoop some out and rub it in your hands and then spread evenly through your beard. What’s that smell? Success. Beardy Success. And whatever oil you put in there. And we bet it smells amazing.

Go. Share your beard smells and tales of home made oils with the world.

Bristlr Romance – You’re All Welcome!

With all of the excitement going on here at Bristlr, what with our #BareYourBeard competition well underway and our celebration of 100,000 users strong on our beard network, we’re feeling a little warm and fuzzy.

So we want you to join in!

Have you found romance on Bristlr? Have you met the beard of your dreams, found someone to stroke your beard or someone to share your mutual love of face fuzz with you? We want to know! We were touched by Sophie and Kyle’s heartwarming story when they got in touch to tell us how Bristlr helped them find each other. Recently Ben and Lydia got in touch with their own story and we couldn’t be happier for them.

We want to know about it!

Call us soppy, but we love reading your touching stories, and we just can’t get enough of them. So please, let us know if you’ve found love on Bristlr.

And remember, the only requirement for you to be on Bristlr? Be a fan of beards! Regardless of your gender identity, sexuality, age (as long as you’re over 18), whether you have a beard, love a beard, or both, you’re welcome on Bristlr!

A Bristlr Success Story – Ben and Lydia

Ben and LydiaWe got an email this week, and it’s the kind of email we love to get. It’s an email from Ben, who used Bristlr, and has had a lovely time.

He found Bristlr late last year after reading an article about us. “Being a bearded man myself I thought ‘why not?'”

Why not indeed Ben!

With his (and Lydia’s) permission I’ve shared his story below.

I had been single for a little while (if you don’t count my beard as a partner) and was on the look out for someone special. I’m a chef so the long and unsociable work hours make it difficult to meet people. I’d thought about other online dating websites but the specific nature of your website appealed to me (and, hopefully, I’d appeal to others).”

Little did I know that when I created my profile that my life was soon about to change forever, very much for the better.

It wasn’t long until I saw a face which really caught my attention. I remember seeing the picture of this girl and genuinely thinking ‘wow, she’s beautiful. I’ll click on that little heart and see what happens’. I genuinely thought that heart symbol would not turn red. I genuinely thought, just going by looks and her lovely sounding profile, that this girl was out of my league. Also, with me being in Stoke and the fact that she was in Leeds – surely nothing would ever come of this?

This is a little while ago so I may not remember details correctly but I don’t think it was long before that heart symbol was a lovely, passionate shade of red. She liked me back. Then not much longer after that I received a message. It was a simple, succinct message that I’ll never be able to forget – ‘Why are you so far away?’.

It was the kind of opening line that you want to receive on a website such as this. I took that message as her way of saying that she liked what she saw but would the distance between us be a hindrance? So I replied – ‘Ha! Why are YOU so far away?’.

It was the only response I could think of and, looking back on it, could’ve gone either way I suppose! It could have been seen a a bit combative maybe? What did happen was that it started a conversation which I simply loved being a part of. As we spoke more and more, it was clear there was a fantastic connection between the two of us and eventually we exchanged numbers and took the conversation over the phone.

It was in the New Year that we met up in person. This was after texting until stupid o’clock in the morning, calling each other and a Skype session in the month previous. There was always the danger that it wouldn’t work in person. I was really nervous and so was she but it was the best first (and last) date I ever had.

I say last date because I am absolutely sure that I have found ‘the one’. We are now living together in Bradford and because of the move that I made I also now have a dream job as well as the dream girl. It may have only been a brief eight months that we’ve been together but we are both certain that this is it for us.

The reason I’ve decided to get in contact with you is simply to let you know that what you have done, through your website, is brought two people together who otherwise would never have met. We often say that the likelihood of us meeting was so incredibly slim, maybe even impossible. So we believe that you have brought together two soulmates. You can call it fate or destiny (or the power of a great beard) or whatever you like but that is what’s happened.

Everyone at Bristlr wishes you nothing but happiness together!

Competition – #BareYourBeard!

Gather round beard wearers, it’s competition time. We’re hosting a photo shoot for Bristlr users, and the finest looking beard we find will win an all expenses paid beard pampering session.

This is your chance to work the camera, show us those bristles and get some publicity! We want you to Bare Your Beard! No, we don’t want you to shave your beard off, we want you to show your beard off.

To get involved send us a photo of your beardy self along with a few quick words telling us why you love Bristlr and why you want to get involved. You can message us via Facebook, Instagram or Tweet us @BristlrApp.

No beard? No problem! We’re also looking for beard fans to join in at the shoot, regardless of gender. You won’t get to win the beard pampering, but you will get to fondle some fine follicles.

Let’s talk prizes!

The winner of the photo shoot will be given an all expenses paid trip to get that beard trimmed and pampered, along with a home beard care pack containing beard oil, balm and a comb to keep those bristles tame. That’s not all – you’ll also have the chance to pick some of your favourite images from the photo shoot to be printed for you to keep (or given away to your fans).

Runners up, we still love you! As well as joining us in a really fun day, we’ll supply you with a digital selection from your photos.

Sorry overseas fans! Bristlr is based in Manchester, UK so we might struggle to fly you over here for a beard pampering! Unfortunately, we can only accept UK based entrants. For those of you not quite local to Manchester if you’re struggling to get here let us know and we’ll see what can be done.