LuckyCal Interview: Seeking Growth After Winning in the fbFund

fbFund winner LuckyCal is a social calendar tool that takes advantage of Facebook for its connectivity amongst users and application platform for interactive purposes. Months after being awarded funding from the fbFund, LuckyCal has been pushing forward and seeking growth. One way in which this application is looking to gain more users is through a promotion where users are entered in the chance to win a prize by inviting their friends to join in on the LuckyCal fun. I took the promotion as an opportunity to catch up with LuckyCal, and learn more about the promotion.

Kristen Nicole: LuckyCal is one of the winners of the fbFund from 2008. How was your experience been since receiving funding, and how have you grown since?
Sanjay Vakil: The fbFund was an excellent opportunity for us — getting a bit of funding and exposure are very helpful. In terms of the continuing experience, we’ve watching the fbFund change and grow and morph as the FB team discovers what works and what doesn’t in terms of building the FB platform in conjunction with the recipients. Hence the changes that are in place in each successive round. The primary learning for
them, I think, is that the money is a small part of the value of the program.
In the meantime, the team at LuckyCal has been refining the story and developing better ways of explaining exactly what we do. In some ways, the problem is that LuckyCal is a giant, audacious change in the way that calendars work. Getting people to try it out can be tricky because of that.
The team at Emerson’s done a great job of building a 30s video that captures its essence:

Simultaneously, we’ve been working with local businesses and refining what LuckyCal can do for the business/enterprise user. We’ve had a lot of interest there.
Kristen Nicole: In terms of LuckyCal having a product offering that overlaps with some of Facebook’s own features, how have you dealt with this fact and the potential for losing traction should Facebook merely add to its own functionality?
We’ve kept our eye on Events and how Facebook could extend their own functionality to eclipse ours. I’ll be honest: I don’t lose sleep over it. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how calendar should work, getting the seminal patents on these idea, and then implementing them. Rather than playing a defensive game, I’d rather spend our energy pushing into the future.
In addition, LuckyCal works hard to not have you tied to any particular calendar; Facebook doesn’t have this luxury. Working with all calendars–especially Outlook–avoids unnecessary barriers to entry. A good calendar application is hard to build and the market is already jam-packed with existing, established players. More importantly, it is difficult to get users to switch calendar applications when the majority of users have their software selected for them by their workplace, or have an existing investment of data that is difficult to liberate.
Kristen Nicole: Does this potential feature overlap have any bearing on the difficulty you’ve seen in getting the word out about LuckyCal?
I don’t think so. The primary issue with getting the word out has been identifying the right vector to use to get ourselves in front of Facebook users. They don’t read blogs or press releases or ads. They go to Facebook to talk to friends and live their online social lives.
So how do we reach them?
In addition, I think that the app environment has gotten so polluted with useless, spammy or annoying apps that many users are suffering from app fatigue and are completely unaware that there are *useful*
apps out there!

Kristen Nicole: More specifically, how have you dealt with the recent development that Facebook opened up developer access to both Groups and Events? Any plans for taking advantage of these recent updates?