Digital response instead of passive swiping! That’s the slogan of the dating app PING, which brothers Noah and Hiob Feller developed together and turned into a startup. How did being siblings affect their collaboration? And how did the two use their remote working across Europe to do it?
In early 2021, Hiob mentioned in a phone call with me, his brother and later co-founder, that it would probably work quite well to program the app PING. We had both talked about this app so many times. I was finishing my master’s degree in Lisbon at the time and was planning to continue my career as a management consultant – Hiob was working as a software developer.
At some point we had wondered why there wasn’t a dating app that enabled matches in everyday life, based on real impressions. From this, PING was born: a dating app for digitally approaching people in everyday life – a clear contrast to passive picture-swiping from the couch.
In retrospect, founding among siblings brought significant advantages – and not only in the early product development phase, long before the app release was ready, we had collected our first angel investment and acquired strategic business partners.
The following factors played the biggest role:
- trust & values
Trust & values: when we decided to seriously work on the product and found the startup, we were already looking back on almost 25 years together – the last 10 of which were marked by many vacations, all-nighters, or challenges overcome together. The trust built up in this way not only facilitated communication, but also created a solid basis for efficient cooperation from the very beginning, also with regard to common goals and visions for the startup.
Communication between us often couldn’t have been easier, as we usually already knew how the other person thought and reacted before things were discussed. It felt like misunderstandings could be avoided or minimized this way. This also had an effect on quick decision-making and a harmonious appearance towards external stakeholders.
The last and most important point, however, is the fact that we are pursuing a common, long-term goal that is not about the short-term success of an individual. And we have actively felt this over the last two years: the long-term partnership allowed us to grow on the project over time and develop ourselves, but also the startup, together with strong partners like P-ton AG, constantly improving and adapting our relationship.
Although we worked remotely for the most part, we always deliberately planned phases in which we arranged to meet together intensively for several weeks in various locations in southern Europe, and locked ourselves into shared AirBnbs in order to work intensively on the product – this was unavoidable, especially in the early development phases. For example, we worked one winter in Palermo and one spring from Lisbon – but we are currently reunited in Hamburg, our original home, where we are working on our first, major marketing campaign.
Similar to P-ton AG – founded by father and son – PING is a family business. And like Jürgen and Jakob from P-ton, we appreciate the understanding, ease of communication and shared vision that come with founding within the family.
About the author
Founder and CEO
Noah Feller and his brother Hiob are the founders of the up-and-coming start-up PING.
In the Startup-Studio, they work closely with the P-ton team to implement their innovative business idea.