About five years ago, Alison Gorman was hanging out with friends and discussing their favorite fitness classes, restaurants, books and podcasts over dinner. Great — except the next morning, they were writing the recs in their Notes apps and inevitably some of the information got lost. In the weeks following, they had to text or email each other for the names they’d forgotten.
Gorman and her friends thought, hey, let’s make an app just for our circle to keep track of all these recommendations. But as they delved deeper into the world of technology and app making, they realized it didn’t make sense to make an app for just them. Others who work in tech recommended they try to monetize it and launch a full business.
Thus, TruFaves was born, headed by Gorman. The app lets users save and keep track of their favorite recommendations and share them with friends.
“It gets a little bit cumbersome when you’re texting people asking,” she told Technical.ly. As an example, “I have people who ask like, ‘Oh, you know where to get your hair colored’ or ask for a dentist. And I feel like I’m writing the same information to several different people. [With the app] you can do two clicks and just send it out to them.”
Users create an account and start posting all their “faves” is different categories. Once they create the faves, they are saved in their profile so they can send them to others. Users can invite people to join their “circle” on the app to send and receive recommendations. They can also request recommendations from people in their circle.
“It’s different than other platforms in that the people in your circle are people that you know and trust in real life,” she said. “So you’re not going to have hundreds, thousands of people in your circle. These are people that you would actually go to for recommendation.”
Gorman, who comes from a non-tech background, said she dedicated a lot of time over the last five years learning about the tech industry and how to actually launch a startup. After spending almost 13 years as the health and medical reporter at 6abc in Philadelphia, she chose to leave several months ago for a few reasons.
One reason was needing a more flexible family schedule. But the other was to pursue this startup that up until that point had been a side project.
“When I was still at 6abc, I did do the beta test on the side,” she said. “But it was really hard to juggle everything with a full time job and meeting with developers and trying to get this startup off the ground.”
Today was my last day at @6abc Thank you to our amazing viewers… it’s been an honor bringing you the latest health news especially during the pandemic. I will miss my “Action News family” but I’m looking forward to my next adventure. 😊 pic.twitter.com/WXIVYV2BuM
— AliGorman (@AliGormanTV) September 30, 2021
TruFaves worked with freelancers and development firms, specifically Center City dev agency Byrd Alley, to develop the app before finally launching a beta version two years ago. Once she got feedback on the beta, Gorman said she started feeling overwhelmed about doing all of this on her own, so she started pitching to different incubators and accelerators.
She eventually accepted an invitation from Project 10K, a company that signs on as a cofounder and promises to build, scale and sell tech companies. Gorman also brought on a development team. The app finally launched on Apple and Android in mid-June.
The app’s business model works around invite-only advertising. She said the company struggled with a revenue model because it wanted the faves to be unbiased. A retailer has to get a certain number of organic mentions on the app before they are offered advertising space.
“The other thing that makes it different is users have to opt in or opt out if they want them in their circle,” she said. “So it is still giving consumers, users of the app, more control than what they have with some of the other platforms. But then on the retailer side, it gives them another opportunity to connect with loyal customers and find new customers.”
Overall, Gorman said she’s learned a lot the last few years, but still has a lot to learn. Gorman is currently living in South Jersey but said the LLC for her app was formed in Fairmount. And though she’s been in the Philly area for a while, this experience exposed her to the city’s tech community.
“The startup and entrepreneurial world of Philadelphia is somewhat new to me over the past several years, but it has been great,” she said. “It’s so fun to, one, learn something new, but also kind of be introduced to a whole new scene. I was so engrossed in the news world for so many years. So to learn something new and to have this community be so welcoming has been nice.”
Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-