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The Struggle and Triumph Behind Cheek’d

The Struggle and Triumph Behind Cheek’d

Lori Cheek, Founder of Cheek'd. Article by LA NPDT


Lori Cheek, Founder of Cheek’d

Success is often achieved through overcoming adversity through consistent efforts and keeping a winner’s mindset; this definition rings true for Lori Cheek. As a founder of a company named Cheek’d, she was faced with the daunting task of making her business profitable. Many may recognize her from her appearance on Shark Tank, a popular show displaying startups and businesses pitching their business models to elite investors. But before her business career began, she held stable jobs in architecture, furniture, and design companies for 15 years. She was not the individual one would suspect to go into business; after all, her expertise in business-related matters, was minimal. Her interest in the startup life began upon having an idea that deeply influenced her.

Introducing Cheek’d. Cheek’d is a dating and social networking website designed to provide a comprehensive supply of methods for finding a match. It effectively extends a person’s ability to find a compatible match even further than what has been done before. It does this by providing Cheek’d users with physical cards that act as an additional tool for gaining a potential partner’s attention in daily life, rather than just virtual. Although the concept is attractive and well defined, she wasn’t able to impress the judges on Shark Tank and therefore secured no additional funding to support her business. However, by being on the show she attracted 50 investors and 100,000 website visits, which enabled her to strengthen her brand as well as build a more appropriate team and acquire more funding.

While these numbers indicate a huge plus, Cheek sacrificed a lot and took multiple risks along the way that were extremely unattractive. The biggest was quitting her steady job and pursuing her business full-time. Fortunately, her years in the design industry prepared her well due to her designing and management skillset as well as the connections she had made over the years; financially, however, she was struggling. Since the cost of living in New York City was extremely high, she was forced to live with friends while she used whatever personal funding she could obtain to fund the business. Three and a half years into the venture, she had only made $56,000 from Cheek’d, which was a big turn-off for the Sharks. Furthermore, she invested $120,000 of her own money and had to sell much of what she owned to make that happen. Bootstrapping was a term she knew very well.

Today, the Cheek’d brand has made substantial progress. Cheek’d has been considered “the next generation of online dating” by The New York Times. Cheek’d knew the power of teamwork and leveraged it whenever possible, she did this from day one. With her creativity, persistence, resourcefulness, and willingness to take risks, Cheek has carved a path to a new era of online dating.




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