Introduce yourself and tell us about Cheekd?

I’m Lori Cheek, an NYC based architect turned entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of Cheekd. A hyper-speed Bluetooth mobile dating app that removes the “missed” from “missed connections”. After working in architecture, & design for 15 years, I came up with an idea that led me into the world of technology and dating. I completely threw away my design career and I’m no longer building structures, I’m now building relationships. 

After setting up your profile and desired filters, our app will send you notifications when a potential match is nearby. Cheekd uses Bluetooth, it doesn’t require the internet to function so connections can be made on the subway, plane, anywhere. You’ll get a notification if someone who meets your criteria is within 30 feet of you. If you’re near a potential spark, Cheekd makes sure you know about it. It’s like online dating which starts in the real world. 

What Problem Is Cheekd Solving?

Our dating app sets itself apart as it gives you the option to interact with a match before starting a virtual relationship with a compatible user. Instead of encouraging users to continue to hide behind a screen, Cheekd pushes you to engage in social settings while paying attention to potential matches in the area. Our new dating app gives us the power to light the spark face-to-face first and leave the talking for later.

What sacrifices have you made to become an entrepreneur?

Building this business has been an incredible learning experience. I’ve taken a major risk (both financially & mentally) and surrendered my career in architecture & design, but my heart and mind are in this project every waking moment.

I’ve never been more dedicated to anything. Despite the occasional overwhelming stress, it’s been loads of fun.  I feel like I’m living the American Dream—I’ve given birth to an invention.  I’ve gone from 15 years of helping others build their dreams to a life finally dedicated to building my own. It’s the most rewarding feeling.

What is your marketing strategy for 2021?

Generation Z Influencer Marketing. It’s a no-brainer as this generation can make a major viral impact via social media. They are extremely vocal and visual and willing to share content when they’re on board with a product or service.

Tell us about your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

The financial struggles have definitely been the most challenging aspect of my business. After four tumultuous years of building my startup with the wrong partners, lots of bad decisions, and some major rookie mistakes, I was determined to find a way to take my business to the next level … and what better way than to apply to ABC’s Shark Tank.

In September of 2013, I found myself walking down that scary shark infested hallway into a stare-off with 5 of the harshest millionaire investors in the world and after getting shot down by all five Sharks, I looked them in the eye and said, “Trust that you’ll all see me again.” Although those final bold words of mine ended up on the cutting room floor (adding insult to injury), in the 48 hours after the broadcast, received a record-breaking 100K unique visitors and our inbox filled up with thousands of emails insisting that the “Sharks” were “out of their minds” for not investing.

Nearly fifty of those emails were from interested investors. Since Shark Tank aired in February of 2014, I found the missing links from years before. We’ve raised 5 times the amount I’d sought on the show and I’ve gotten a CTO on board who’s helped facilitate and finance the new face and technology behind the new Cheekd.

What is your long term strategy to grow the business?

My plan is to expand and create a spin off. A New Yorker of 25 years, I recently relocated to my home state of Kentucky and am working on a new app idea inspired by my own struggles trying to network, meet and date new people in a new city during an extremely antisocial time of purposefully distancing. My solution will allow users to have a more organic, yet virtual way, of making connections for anything from business, networking, fitness, friendship, hobbies or anything with anyone all over the world!  

What’s your best advice for new entrepreneurs?

While resilience and self-belief are two of the most crucial characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, my strongest advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs is if you truly believe in your vision, give up excuses and doubt, surround yourself with a supportive and positive network, then get ready for the hustle of your life. You can’t cheat the grind, but if you give it your all, the payoff will be worth it every last minute of it. Take the leap!

Share your favorite quote with us?

My favorite quotes that keep me fueled every day of my entrepreneurial journey “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth

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