Competition – #BareYourBeard!

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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.

 

 

A Bristlr Success Story – Sophie and Kyle

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This weekend a beard fan messaged the Bristlr Facebook page to thank us for uniting her with the beardy love of her life. And what a wonderful story it was to read, made me feel all warm and bristly inside. So, here I am to share this wonderful success story with you, to brighten up your week ahead.

Meet Sophie and Kyle. Notice Kyle’s EPIC beard, and those happy little faces. That’s exactly what we’re about here at Bristlr – making people happy.

Sophie tells me how her Bristlr journey began, “I was having a drunken night with my girlfriends when the subject of my love of hot bearded men came up. Within just a few minutes they had set up my Bristlr account and were browsing through the hairy hotties!”

Now if that doesn’t sound like a fun night in, I don’t know what does! And it just goes to show, you could be on Bristlr and browsing beards within minutes! Meeting the love of your life couldn’t be simpler and more enjoyable.

Feeling a little shy, Sophie boldly asked her pals to pick out the sexiest man they could find. Enter Kyle, or ‘Beyondtheflames’ as he was known back then.

“He replied straight away and the connection was obvious from the get go,” Sophie reminisces with a dreamy look in her eyes (I assume), “we met the next day and spent the most amazing day together!”

Sophie tells me from that point on they have been inseparable, spending every available minute together worshiping that epic beard. Their favourite activity? Cuddling up together and enjoying beardy snuggles. Aww!

They’re even living together now and will be moving down to Newcastle together soon.

“He is my best friend and my soul mate.”

Now if that doesn’t melt your heart, nothing will. We’re ever so happy you found each other, Sophie and Kyle!

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Do you have your own Bristlr success story? We’d love to hear about it, so get in touch!

Want to Build Bristlr? We’re (Always) Hiring!

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If you’d like to work at Bristlr, you’ve just passed the first and most important step; wanting to work at Bristlr.

We’re not a normal company. We’re an early stage startup, and we’re a beard-focussed dating service with mighty ambitions and big plans.

People joining us are expected to be awesome. We’re looking for people who are excited by weird challenges and who can think on their feet. Everyone in a tiny company has a speciality, but we should all be able to at least understand (and sympathise with) what everyone else does. Transparency, honesty, and knowledge sharing is our goal.

The role

So you want to work at Bristlr? Awesome. Hi five! Next, we need to find you a job.

What are you good at, and what are we weak at? We don’t require any previous experience, as long as you’re a good learner. Here’s some notes to help you:

Technical

  • At our heart we’re a technology company.
  • Our stack is all JavaScript, all the way down (PhoneGap, jQuery, NodeJS). If you love JavaScript, we’ll love you. But no, we won’t use the new shiny framework everyone is raving on about. We all know it’ll be replaced in a year.
  • We sit atop Heroku and AWS, and love microservices.
  • “Brutally pragmatic agile” best describes our working practise. Generally we follow the sensible parts of agile-stuff (kanbans, standups, post-it notes, no backlogs, smugness etc.) but run away screaming from over-prescription.
  • TDD and pair programming is wonderful.
  • Done is better than perfect.

User experience

  • Our UI and our UX is core to the experience of using Bristlr. If you know how to build beautiful stuff, come and make us pretty.
  • Currently we use HTML5 for our apps, not native.

Growth

  • If you’re a beast at customer acquisition you’ll have fun here.
  • We prefer experimenting with new channels and methods, rather than relying on the tried & tested (and saturated) old channels.
  • We focus on tangible numbers and impact. For context; if we’re talking signups, then we’re measuring change in the thousands.

The hours

We care a lot more about the impact you have on the company, community, and product, than how many hours you work. We’ve also learned that the more flexible the hours you have, generally the better you are at getting stuff done. You choose your hours. Want a 40 hour week? Sorted. Want to only work on Wednesdays? That’s cool too. Choose what’s going to make you happiest, and feel free to experiment.

There will always be some contact hours (we’re based in Manchester and it’d be great if you were too, but it’s not essential) because we like working in pairs, sharing knowledge, and bouncing ideas around. Also, it’s totally your turn to make the brews.

We’re not going to expect you to clock in, sit down, do some set job, then clock out. We expect you to be making a difference.

The payment

Be realistic and be honest, and keep the number of hours/days you want to work in mind. How much money do you need to do this job and be happy? Don’t undercut yourself, it’s a dick move, and won’t work out in the long term. If you’re not sure, we’re happy to talk openly about this sort of stuff.

Application

Email john@bristlr.com with your CV and a job description for the job you want. And/or, if you’re in Manchester, find John, go for coffee (he’ll buy) and pitch your job, then yourself.

You’re also always welcome to pick our brains on any of this stuff, even if you have no intention of working for us. Knowledge sharing is a good thing.

If you think our methods are too unconventional, please write a job description for an HR manager and send it in, along with your CV.

So You Can’t Advertise to Bisexual or Polyamorous People on Facebook

The bisexual pride flag - Wikipedia

A few days ago our advertising account with Facebook was “flagged for policy violations.” Meaning  “any adverts that [Bristlr are] running have been turned off.” Fair enough, these things happen and it’s not a big deal.

It was probably because in one ad we quote CNBC calling us the “Tinder for Beards”. Or perhaps it was because Facebook require prior permission before running dating ads, but as they don’t provide any way to contact them, we didn’t seek it. Either way I expect it to be sorted out shortly, and that’s not the point of this blog post.

The point of this blog post is to highlight the policies themselves, and some weirdness I found in them after having a closer read.

They have a section in their policies specifically for dating. And it’s all reasonable stuff; no nudity, don’t con people, don’t advertise to kids, no selling of mail-order brides etc.

But, they also have these policy points when it comes to who your ads can target:

  • The “Sex” targeting parameter must be set to either “Men” or “Women”.
  • The “Interested In” targeting parameter must be set to “Men”, “Women” or “Unspecified”. Combinations of “Men” and “Unspecified” and “Women” and “Unspecified” are also acceptable.

And these points are weird.

Your adverts have to be aimed at a specific sex (even though Facebook don’t actually track sex, and are mixing up the term “sex” with “gender” which… I don’t have time for that, read this). And those pigeon-holed people can’t be interested in dating both men and women; they have to be either straight, gay, or unspecified.

If you’re running, for example, a genderless dating site for people into beards, to use Facebook you have to break your demographic down into their “sex”, and then again into whether they’re straight or gay, or other.

As a better example which isn’t about us; if you’re running a dating site for bisexual, queer or just undecided people, you have to duplicate your ads to reach to two groups of arbitrarily grouped people.

Then we find this lovely line of the policy:

  • The “Relationship” targeting parameter must be set to “Single” or “Unspecified”.

As if open relationships and polyamory don’t exist, even though Facebook themselves provide an option to say you’re in “an open relationship”?

In taking broad strokes to prevent nefarious companies using the Facebook advertising platform, they’ve made it difficult for those not in the mainstream to reach people, and that sucks.

No, it’s not the biggest deal in the whole world, and Facebook are hardly alone in their actions, but it shows we still have a way to go.

To any developers out there remember: code is political.

There’s a global beard shortage. No, actually.

Emma and Danny

I ran the numbers; there are a lot more people who want to date someone with a beard, than there are people with beards. And this is a global problem.

For every person with a good beard, here’s the ratio of people wanting to stroke them:

Amsterdam 3.64
London 2.36
Manchester 2.24
New York 2.08
Los Angeles 2.04
Sao Paulo 2.02
Paris 1.98
Austin 1.66

Meaning, for every 10 people with beards in Amsterdam, there are 36 wanting a bearded partner.

If ever there was a time to start going a beard, I would say it’s now.

The only place we found there isn’t a shortage is in South Asia.

One of the fun parts to my job at Bristlr is that I get to learn things that are impossible for anyone else to learn. Most of that is also totally useless, but sometimes I find something that’s just super interesting.

When it comes to dating sites, you normally assume it’s going to be filled with a significant majority of guys. In Tinder’s case, for example, it’s basically a two to one ratio of men to women. But an interesting thing happens on Bristlr; because we reduce the number of guys able to use our service, we see an almost 50/50 split of those with beards and those who want to stroke beards (we don’t track gender), with a slight majority wanting a beard.

If you limit the beard-havers to only those with a “good” beard (rated 2/5 or above by the community, i.e. an actual beard), the number of available beards for stroking halves. This is the case in pretty much every major territory and city where Bristlr exists.

I don’t doubt the “peak beard” study from last year which told us that in 2014 beards were seen as the most appealing they’ve been for generations. But if anyone suggests this means we’re going to see a decline in beard popularity any time soon, I have the data to tell them they’re wrong.

If you’d like to see the stats on a city or region I’ve not mentioned above, just leave a comment or drop Bristlr a tweet.

Let the Beards Unite: Bristlr Joins a Local Beardy Mash-up

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This blog post is long overdue, but we didn’t want to miss the chance to give our local bearded friends a shout out. Better late than never eh?!

Back at the end of April, Bristlr had the privilege of sponsoring a mash up between Liverpool’s Liverbeards and Manchester’s Great Man Beards, in the great city of Manchester. And what a fine bunch of gents they were! It’s not every day one gets to hang out with an exclusively bearded group of gentlemen; both John and I were in attendance and I must admit it was rather a treat being the only lady among all. the. beards. (there’s got to be a joke in there somewhere)!

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Not only did we get to enjoy the company of like-minded, bearded folk, but we also got a grand old tour of some of Manchester’s finest drinking establishments, from Kosmonaut to The Marble Arch. Visiting sound venues and sampling a selection of weird and wonderful craft brews is pretty standard fair for these folk. So, if you’d like to join either of these exceptional communities on their get-togethers, Great Man Beards next meet on June 20th and Liverbeards on June 30th.

Beards up!

Are you part of a local beard community or group? We’d love to learn more about you and potentially even sponsor your next event. Just contact stephanie@bristlr.com to find out more.

 

We’re not adding gender options until we can do it right

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When it comes to sexuality and gender, dating sites are pretty shit at anything beyond a simple binary. They get halfway through “LGBT” and just sort of give up.

OKCupid only started adding more realistic gender options late last year. Tinder and Happn are purely binary (with the former apparently banning trans users). Even trendy new start-ups who have their gender options praised in the press, in reality fail pretty miserably at delivery.

Bristlr doesn’t have gender options.

When we made the first prototype of Bristlr we knew we needed some kind of filtering (ideally a binary system for ease of development). So why pick gender with its infinite complexity, when we can just filter on beard or no-beard?

I’m pretty sure this makes Bristlr the largest dating site ever, without gender.

The great

We’re, like, super inclusive. If you’re into beards, we’re into you, and our doors are wide open. Lady looking for a gentleman-Viking for winter? Bearded dame rocking a kick-ass beard wanting to chat to new people? Asexual cutie with an addiction to rating beards? We love everyone. Hello!

The less-great

Bristlr’s doors may work for everyone. But without gender-based filtering, once you’re in the building you can have a less-than-ideal time finding people if you have specific preferences. It’s a common assumption that Bristlr is for guys with beards and women who want to meet them. And whilst this is the case for the majority of Bristlr’s users, it’s not the whole story.

To take gay guys as an example: We do get great feedback from guys using Bristlr to find other guys, but we do also get a lot of feedback which can be generalised to “I only want to see guys into guys”. You can filter by keyword, but this only works if you assume every gay guy has “gay” somewhere in their profile. It’s not great.

The plan

We’re going to add gender and sexuality options to Bristlr in order to support our LGBTQ+ users. But we’re not going to rush it.

Our current plan is to add an optional gender field to profiles: A text box allowing multiple, comma-separated words of your choosing (or invention). Then a second field where you write the genders you’re interested in. We then filter and match using a list of synonyms, plus existing filters like location, age, beard/no-beard etc.

The synonym list will be public, and community reviewed.

We want to help drive a better industry standard for this kind of stuff, and we know we’ve got a lot of work ahead. We’re a tiny team currently going through the Ignite start-up accelerator, so we’re being metaphorically scrunched up and fired out of a Business Cannon (like a human cannon, but with more spreadsheets). It may take us a little while, but this is going to happen.

If you have any thoughts, questions, concerns, or funny cat pictures, please do leave a comment or find me on Twitter.

Photo credit: Sexuality flag heart patches from Nerdloft on StoreEnvy


John Kershaw is Bristlr’s founder and CEO.