Abby Frimpong, Neal Patrick Harris set sights on “celebrity challenges” with Duuple latest app

Published on May 16, 2019

Challenges and prizes work. Just ask anyone who’s vied for the X-Prize — or any award for that matter.

That same concept of a challenge and reward spawned “celebrity challenge” app, Duuple, which brings people, brands, and non-profits to solve user-generated challenges. It’s like a personalized X-Prize. And according to its founders who launched Duuple late last year, it’s working.

Grit Daily sat down with Abby Frimpong co-founder and CEO at Duuple to talk about the launch, her impact as a woman entrepreneur, and working on social good projects with Neil Patrick Harris.

Grit Daily: What is your background and what inspired you to start Duuple?

Some challenges have met their match. Or in some cases, “met their mother.”

Abby Frimpong: Duuple was first designed and later launched in 2018 to encourage change in the world. Personally, Duuple has a special place in my heart. Having worked as a fundraiser in the nonprofit world, I consistently saw the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

There was always another brilliant kid in need of a scholarship, another cancer patient to get to or another deadly accident caused by a forgotten landmine. Duuple to me was a way to bridge the gap. How can we give back? How can we empower people to leave a mark and to inspire change in a fun and meaningful way?

At the heart of Duuple are millions of people who are looking to make a difference in the world around them, inspiring community action for users to participate in exciting challenges, donate to causes and advocate for issues that matter.

GD: What challenges did you face in launching the app in the US?

Start-ups like Duuple face a lot of challenges from creating an app that users can connect with, to getting enough funding for development, it is easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus of where one’s energy should be directed.

It is no secret that there are thousands of mobile apps on the market. Start-ups are coming up with new apps by the day and the biggest challenge for us was creating an app that stood out from the rest. Once we figured that out,  we had to jump the hurdle of market penetration to gather enough data to prove the concept. We made it a priority to align ourselves with our users. What do they need? What problem are we solving for them? How easy is it for them to recommend Duuple to other users?

Funding is another great challenge that startups face. Keep in mind that it may cost an average of $200,000 to actually develop a usable app and push it to the market. Most start-ups get stuck here, with a really great idea for an app but with no money to catapult their dream forward.  Our strategy for funding Duuple was approaching the right investors. Then we made them understand the three-prong approach Duuple offers which is individuals, non-profits and brands all creating challenges for fun or for social good.

GD: How did the collaboration with Neil Patrick Harris and St. Jude’s come about? Is he involved beyond the initial launch?

AF: To kick the challenges off in proper fashion, Duuple and Neil Patrick Harris created a dance challenge to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Neil Patrick Harris dared anyone who would risk humiliation to upload their best dance moves and challenge their friends to do the same. We received a lot of response from the media and people loved it so much that we had numerous participants from the Duuple community.

Having Neil Patrick Harris help us launch the first challenge was the perfect way to introduce Duuple to the world.  The most important part of developing Duuple was to make it fun– and his energy is synonymous with our app and culture.  We have other celebrities lined up who are kind of enough to become a part of the impact Duuple is creating.

GD: Tell our readers how the app works? Can anyone launch a challenge? Can you contribute to any charity of your choosing or certain ones that Duuple partners with? How does it work?

AF: It’s simple. Take a photo or video, upload it to the Duuple app and select the duration of the challenge. Then decide the giveaway which could be a badge, prize or cash. Save the challenge and share it with your network and the Duuple community. Want your friends to try repeat that crazy tongue twister that only you think you can do? Challenge them on Duuple.

Brand or NGOs looking to connect with consumers on driving awareness to a new cause or new product? Create a challenge on Duuple. New artists with a fun new way to debut their music? Create a challenge on Duuple. These user-created challenges provide discoverability and virality –with immediate calls-to-action for fun and/or social good amongst friends. Whether it is just friends competing amongst each other or a charity raising funds, Duuple is a fun and interactive way to challenge your network and share hilarious and engaging content.

Anyone can launch a challenge with the charities we partner with. We have over 400 charities currently working with Duuple.

GD: What made you decide to expand overseas and why South Korea first? Are there celebrities or charities you plan to partner with?

AF: We are so excited to be here and to be expanding in such an incredible part of the World.  Whether for search, instant messaging, social networks, or gaming, Asia is one of the world’s leading regions for mobile apps. Seoul has also become the leading source of beauty and skin care not only in Asia but across the globe. We see an increasing interest in Kculture, Kbeauty, Kpop and Kdrama.

We found that apps are the driving force of the mobile phone experience in Asia and after being in Seoul for only a week i found myself downloading 2 new apps.  App usage is so prevalent in Asia that, in most countries, people turn to apps as often as the mobile web. We have already started to work with celebrities in South Korea and will continue to work with more in the coming weeks. We have also partnered with KUMFA and Open Closet charities and working on a few more.

GD: Do you plan to expand to the rest of Asia or other markets next?

Asia will always be challenging for Western companies; cultural and language barriers but we believe market shifts will always offer new opportunities. Right now, the majority of the Duuple community is in the United States but after South Korea, we are looking to expand to Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, and Thailand.

GD: Why do you think it’s so important for people to use social media for good?

Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed how social sharing can turn a simple act into a movement – especially when aligned with charities and social initiatives.  Duuple is that spark. It’s the best way to challenge your friends, get out of your comfort zone and do a world of good around you. Duuple empowers individuals, brands, and NGOs to create their own goal-based challenges.

Through user-generated videos, users inject social good along with cheers, energy, excitement, prizes and sharing to people’s daily lives.  These user-created challenges provide discoverability and virality –with immediate calls-to-action for fun and/or social good amongst friends.

GD: What’s next for Duuple and you? Any new updates or functions to the app?

I believe Duuple is one of the most entertaining mobile apps available at the moment, and I would like to introduce it to the world. We have the Duuple Ambassadors program coming up which will allow Duuple to create its’ own influencers.

GD: What advice do you have for other tech entrepreneurs, particularly women in tech?

Women CEOs in the tech community are a rare breed. I read that the Global Average of Women CEOs is below 10% which is absurd.  Women may still be a minority in boardrooms and in leadership roles, but as we rise to higher positions and increase our responsibility and visibility, I believe it will encourage others to step up as well.   Today, women are starting more companies and holding more leadership positions than ever before. However, the fight for gender equality in the workplace is far from over.

The next step in ensuring the number of women-owned business and women CEOs continues to climb is to encourage the next generation of young girls to reach for the stars, pursue their passions and never let gender norms hold them back.

Women CEOs like myself have set an example of how we can rise to the top and disrupt traditional corporate culture. I’ve made lots of sacrifices which have helped me become successful. In fact, my one advice to women in tech would be; take the plunge soon and do your best. You have nothing to lose. Worse comes to worst, you are where you are now, which is not bad. You will always have a job. Someone will hire you. The last thing you want is years from now that you regret you didn’t give it a shot.

Gene is a Columnist at Grit Daily. He is a serial entrepreneur who has been responsible for successful ventures in the manufacturing, technology, fashion, real estate & education verticals.
Gene is a co-founder and Managing Director at Propellant Labs, an online incubator for startups. As the Managing Director, Gene lead the charge to scale the portfolio of companies to 60 outstanding startups, with a combined valuation of over $100 million. Prior to his work as an entrepreneur, Gene spent 15 years as a software engineer in the high-tech industry where he led projects in aerospace,  telecommunications and is recognized as an early pioneer of WiMAX technology.

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