As the founder and CEO of, Steven Dziedzic has been busy casting vision, securing capital, and building his startup company since October of 2010. Dziedzic shared with Fieldnotes his journey as a young entrepreneur.

How would you explain Hoppit to someone who has never heard of it?
Hoppit is a search engine that allows folks to find restaurants and bars—by atmosphere.

What was the catalyzing force for you to take the risk to become an entrepreneur and start Hoppit?
A mix of factors, really.

First, my full-time job was at a blossoming e-commerce startup, so I learned all the ins and outs of the startup world and was yearning to lead my own venture. Once I got a taste, it was all over.

Second, I am a combination of (a) passionate technologist and (b) lover of food, and it really irked me that no restaurant’s websites or apps could deliver relevant results for my “going out” scenario. I knew there had to be a solution. And so, with those underlying factors at work, I felt compelled to take the plunge and make it happen.

How did you get started?
We got started with a little bit of capital and some really smart people, all of whom were friends of mine. We set out to answer the question, “How can we make places relevant?”

Very early on, we recognized that we would need a full-time team, and that was going to take capital. It took patience, networking, and many, many, many conversations, but we were eventually blessed with an incredible investor team. The lead Angel investor was Aimee Higgins, VP of Strategy at Pandora. Several others have joined the team in an investing and advising capacity since, including Frank Golding, an executive at YouTube.

What was the biggest hurdle to getting Hoppit off the ground? How did you overcome it?
The biggest hurdle (among many, many hurdles) was making the product super simple. There are hundreds of thousands of restaurants in the U.S. and millions of text-based reviews, so with all that chaos of information, how do you design a product that delivers an answer for you in 1-click?

We finally launched an incredibly simple, intuitive product, but it wasn’t easy. It took several failed pilot products, [along] with an incredibly close ear to our early users, that enabled us to keep learning and refining. We brainstormed, debated, and theorized internally, and we were able to build something that, while insanely complicated on the backend, looks very simple to the consumer. Thankfully, we had a gracious investor team that allowed for market testing and failures.

Hear more about Dziedzic’s thoughts in part two of his interview tomorrow!

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