Interview with Ross Larter (MoodPanda)
MoodPanda is a free online mood diary application. I interviewed Ross Larter, MoodPanda co-founder to find out more. This interview is the fifty seventh in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Ross for the interview!
How would you describe MoodPanda in under 50 words?
MoodPanda.com is an mood tracking website and iPhone app; it is a large community of friendly people, constantly updating their moods and sharing in each others’ problems and celebrating each others’ happiness. Its like an old school diary/journal but with lots of cool features and graphs.
What mood rating would you give yourself today?
6 out of 10, I have been running a developer conference all week, so I am a bit tired.
What made you decide to start working on MoodPanda?
MoodPanda got started in a pub in Bristol, England. A friend was asking people round the table how their day was and somebody replied with a 10/10. My response was if today was the best day ever what happens if tomorrow is the same as today but then something else amazing happens (I think it included the “pussy cat dolls”), and we chatted for a while on this. The next day I started thinking about the question and told Jake (Co-Founder) about the idea and it went from there. We both work in software development so building the site was not an issue.
How did you come up with the name?
We wanted something friendly, as other tracking website are very clinical, people use the term “moody panda’s” so it went from there.
What technologies have you used to build MoodPanda?
We use C# for all the coding on an Microsoft IIS Webserver but with a MySQL back end so a bit of a mix.
Has your initial vision changed since launch?
We are on MoodPanda version 3 at the moment. For the first 2 versions of the site we built it to track just our own mood and people used it in private mode.
It was only once we added commenting, “hugs” and social activity to the current version that we realised that people wanted the interaction with each other. This is when our user based really started to grow.
What was technically the most challenging part of developing MoodPanda?
The iPhone app, I come from a PC / Linux background, never even used a mac.
Who do you see as your target audience?
From looking at the stats, 14-40 year old’s and 60% female. But the real difference in MoodPanda is the community, our user base seem to like the fact there can talk to people about there problems that they do not know in real life
How long did it take to put together MoodPanda?
To get it to a version 1 about 6 months, we have then been adding features for the last year.
Do you have any new features in the pipeline?
Big thing is the Android app, its the thing we get asked about the most.
What highs and lows got you to where you are now?
Lows are months of knocking on virtual doors (e.g. Big tech blogs) and getting no answers.
Highs are seeing how much the site is helping its users, we have users that print out their mood diary to take to the doctors.
Has MoodPanda got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
The feedback has been great, growth has been good, every time we get in the news or on tech blogs we get a big influx of users.
MoodPanda is free. Do you plan on making the idea profitable in the future?
We have a huge amount of data that is linked to comments and a rating, this is a very unique thing on the net, we have some new #hashtag tracking features that allow you to see the mood of a hashtag.
e.g. If somebody posts “Just tried #cokeclassic” you normally don’t know if it made them happy or not, but on MoodPanda we do as its linked to there mood rating they give.
If 10,000 people say they have “Just tried #cokeclassic” and rated the mood 1 out of 10 I think coca cola may want to know about that.
Where do you see MoodPanda in 5 years time?
Still making the world a happier place. I would like a bigger team so we can do more development for our users, its hard at the moment to give it all the time I want too.
I also have another full time other job, being able to spend more time on Panda would be amazing.
Is there anything else like MoodPanda out there? What is your USP?
There are a couple of mood tracking apps out there, but moodpanda’s unique thing is its large active community of moody panda’s :-)
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
Apart from time to give to moodpanda as I still have a day job, I love reading mashable and it would make my year for moodpanda to be featured on my favorite website.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
From a technical point of view, Hashtag tracking and the android app are looking cool, on a personal level I love reading the user feedback every day, it gets us excited to keep pushing the site further.
Can you convince the reader to start using MoodPanda in under 50 words?
Some people think tracking their mood is a bit strange, but I have seen hundreds of times that once people start being interested in what makes them happy and sad everyday it is a sure fire way to make them happier in the future and that can’t be bad.
Finished reading? Check out MoodPanda!