Hey There… is not just a dating app – It’s a study in human psychology

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A few years ago my best friend and I came up with what we believed to be a pretty great idea. As entrepreneurs, we’re constantly combing our everyday reality with our “is there anything that could improve on this experience” filter to see if there’s a new idea or product lurking.  At the time, we had just shut down a previous fitness app idea were determined to come up with a new software concept to pursue as a side project, that had one overarching theme..   helping people.  We spent a year in our basement think tank researching, planning, thinking, conceptualizing, and rethinking the concept that we would ultimately create.  As it turned out, the concept ended up being in the social networking / dating app realm.  And despite all the urging from many not to attempt to enter a market where giants lived, we did so anyways.  We noticed a gaping hole in the current offerings, and our entrepreneurial nature told us we needed to plug it, no matter how large the barrier to entry.  Little did we know that after 2 years of development efforts it would spawn into something that was going to be a hit with online daters.  The problem we aimed to solve was seemingly obvious and relatively simple.  The solution, was less so.  The problem was in how people made NEW connections in social networking.  We felt it was a bit broken with regard to making connections with people you don’t know you need to make a connection with.  Let us explain. 

The current landscape

All sites that we researched made connections based on 2 primary drivers:

  1. People you already know.
  2. People you may know because of people you already know.

* These 2 assumptions are the backbone of all social networking sites from Facebook to LinkedIn and outside real life connecting are the primary engines for making connections with people you don’t already know.

All social networking sites start out with the connections you already know.  Let’s say for example you just joined Facebook for the first time.  FB, will make recommendations based on your contact lists on your phone, email, other social network sites you’re already in, etc… as to whom you are already in contact with off-site who are also in FB.  The majority of these connections are going to be people you interact with already.  These connections are most likely already in your immediate social circle.  Once you get through that list, FB will start showing you people who you interacted with before, but maybe haven’t talked to in quite a while.  Sounds like a good formula to get you connected up right? Yes, this is #1 above and serves its purpose adequately.

The second driver, “people you may know”, is really the networking part of social networking, and the essence of every social based site.  It is likely that you do not know a single person presented in this list of friend recommendations but since they are curated based on people your friends know we have a natural tendency to believe maybe we should know them.  We may know them from a one time meeting while out with friends (and somehow FB knows that), or know “of” them through talking with our friends. Or maybe we have no idea who they are and ignore them immediately when maybe we shouldn’t.  Either way, this second driver is the one that’s flawed and/or doesn’t go far enough to benefit you as the user.

The problem

The problem we identified though, is that there is no list on any social network dedicated to “people we SHOULD know” and might never know if we do not blindly connect via these “people we may know” connections portals.  Where’s the degree of separation beyond first line?  Are people inclined to blindly friend everyone on the “people you may know” list and then inquire with them about why they should be friends?  NO!  That’s weird!  And as a result, there are countless instances of missed connections because people do not know who to connect with or why they should connect with them.

Why hasn’t this been addressed?
How could this be solved in a way that improves people’s lives?
Why would solving this make for a better social networking experience?
How could something that solves this improve an industry and help people meet others that they would be better off to know?

As entrepreneurs we are programmed to look for a problem and then solve it.  That, however, isn’t always the full answer.  You may be able to solve a “problem” but is your solution worth anything to anyone?  As important as solving the problem is figuring out a way to apply the solution so it brings value to someone.  We also looked at this as well and determined a specific application for our solution.  More on this later.

The “Warm Handshake”

We need a digital form of the “warm handshake”.  What is that?  Think about what you would do if you needed a service provider such as a plumber or electrician.  You’d likely ask your friends, family and/or neighbors for recommendations based on people they know and or have hired in the past.  Common scenario right?  It makes sense to do this because a past positive experience from someone you trust to tell you the truth is what you want to hear about before you potentially hire someone to come into your home, and fix your pipes.  It’s a comfort, trust and security thing.  Scenarios where we are formally introduced to someone we don’t know from someone we do know and trust are called “warm handshake” introductions.    This “warm handshake” gives all parties direct insights into the reasoning for being connected.  You know the plumber isn’t going to screw you over, and the plumber knows you’re not going to screw him.  “Warm handshake” introductions have meaning and purpose and more often than not lead to a successful connection that is beneficial to both parties.  Whether it is to a potential hiring manager, handyman, or new friend; introductions prefaced by one mutually known party that vouches for all involved sets the table for a quality connection.  These connections work best because they are pre-vetted.  This is also much of the thought process behind ratings and reviews of sellers on ebay, to reviews of carpenters on homeadvisor or Angie’s list.  So we believed that it would also stand to reason that it would work for social networking and people meeting people they “should” know or at the very least be compatible with.

Real quick backtrack to social networking sites.  In our opinion the “people you may know” functionality should be considered a cold lead.  Meaning, you most likely do not have any context of a potential friend request other than that they may know someone in your social circle.  This path to connectivity requires a serious and often lengthy commitment to getting to know someone who is a complete stranger turned potential digital acquaintance. These newfound acquaintances usually lay buried in a list with thousands of others never truly discovering their full potential.  We highly doubt anyone is doing this work.

Applying the “warm handshake” to an industry plagued with problems

This is really the genesis for our conceptual idea that spawned our app hey there…  We obsessed over the difference between online & offline behaviors when making connections.  We dissected warm versus cold introductions in all facets of online and offline relationship building.  We interviewed people on social networks.  We interviewed people on other relationship building services.  And we ultimately came to the conclusion that the best way to curate and explore new connections was with a more intimate system of discovery than existed already.  And that new system of discovery was most immediately needed in the online dating realm.  Perhaps nowhere is the need for friend insights more relevant than with dating.  Especially inside modern applications that all use stagnated notations of common friendships/acquaintances to try and crack this nut.  Where in online dating are our friends?  Over our shoulders.  Shoulder surfing our single friends while they’re on Tinder, Match, Eharmony, POF, or the like is something we saw time and time again in our research.  Why hadn’t anyone made the connection that friends like to help friends find matches?  Why are all online daters in a solitary, lonely experience on these apps?  Going it completely alone in a sea of strangers that may or may not be on the site for the same reasons as you.  Why had no one noticed that online daters are constantly taking screenshots of these apps and sending them to their friends for their advice on what to do?  Were we alone in observing this behavior?

Over the course of 2+ years, we built the hey there… system of direct friend insights to provide context, practical information, and where possible the potential for a warm handshake and applied it firstly to online dating.    To better understand how this all works let’s take take a deeper dive.

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The wildly popular swipe app Tinder was one of the first sites to capitalize on using commonalities of interest and FB friendships when attempting to make new romantic connections.  The theory is that if you have friends and interests in common then you stand a better chance of hitting it off.  Sounds reasonable at first glance but what if the “common friends” are more common acquaintances?  We all know that people on social networks actually “collect” friends now.  So is there really any strength in this “common friends” approach?  Do these commonalities have any real meaning?  Does this help you to make a better and more informed decision as to if that person is a potential match?

We argue that in these instances all context is rendered useless and you are pretty much flying blind still.  Furthermore, even if we do know the people notated as common friends do we really gain any extra insight into this candidate just because they’re connected on a social network?  We argue no unless we reach out to those specific common friends to find out more details.  Only at this point would we truly stand to gain any relevant information that can affect our decision making process.  And we haven’t heard of anyone actually taking that extra step, so where’s the value?

Now what about the people on online dating who we do not share common friends with.  This is perhaps one of the most interesting dilemmas to explore.  Quick recap: we have candidates with common friends and/or interests, and now candidates with no commonalities.  Are these candidates less of a potential match?  In these instances should our friends be removed from the equation?  Do friend and family perspectives no longer matter?  Does the expansion of our social circle cease to matter?  We argue that this is where friend context is most critical and needs to be applied!  Friends can help by providing insights and perspective after careful review of the person you both don’t know.  Your friends and family know YOU. They’ve watched you go through heart break, and know what ticks you off to no end.  They know you’re quirks, and what you can’t deal with maybe even better than you do. If friends & family (our direct social circle influencers) know us best then it stands to reason that they can make certain inferences based on minimal information of a candidate when compared to what they intimately know about us.   For decades family and friends have been the most successful matchmakers in history.  More marriages and friendships have been made as a result of being personally matched by someone known and trusted within an existing social circle than any other method.  There are countries and religions that still rely on the knowledge of family to make appropriate marriage pairings.  You may think that strange, but there was certainly plenty of reasons for that to be the case in these cultures.  Techies have been trying to crack the matching nut using robotic algorithms for years but to date there is no technology that can compete with a pre-vetted friend made match.

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This is where our app hey there… comes in.  We built it around the intrinsic human truth that our friends and family can provide very valuable insights into who we SHOULD know and meet.  Our application is built to emulate the way real life successful matches are made.  Traditional Social Networking and Online Dating sites are based on quantity and the concept of throwing enough spaghetti against the wall until something sticks.  Hey there… is built on quality within the quantity.   We want people to experience technology that hits on the most intrinsic essence of human nature which feels the most natural.  We look at our app as the new gateway to meeting people with an old fashioned twist.  Consider hey there… app the “warm handshake” in networking as applied to online dating.  The only application that wants to make real quality connections that are based on the input, insights, and perspectives from those closest to us.  

We’re not just a dating app

We have gone all in with our bet that people are still better matchmakers than algorithms and are enjoying watching the positive results come in.  We are not just a dating app – we are truly a social circle expansion app.  We believe that friends know us best, and if given the chance (and digital means) will help us reach our end goal of finding love.  With hey there… common friends is not just a footnote on a profile; they are active members helping their best of friends meet new people.  Sharing, advising, and with you every step of the journey.  Single people that join our app to find love, can also invite their best friends into the app to help them achieve that goal.  Not to mention the fun of having your friends in the app with you making you matches, writing you endorsements, helping you with your profile, and more.  Come see why our our wingman/friend role is poised to be a monumental shift in brokering new romantic and platonic relationships while bridging gaps in social circles.  

 

We are available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.  For more details visit our site www.heythere.us

Hey There… on Itunes (Apple)

HeyThere… on Google Play (Android)

 

Tinder Flame Burns Out – New App Rises From Ashes

 

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Swipe left.   Swipe Right.  All swiped out!!!  Tinder, arguably the most popular dating app has run its course and is no longer the darling of the dating app world.  Don’t believe me?  Check out recent reviews:

“This app seems to be getting worse.”
“Generally a waste of time depending on what demographic you are.”
“Worst app i’ve ever used!”  

The steady flow of negative reviews are a result of technical usability issues (which are the least of their concerns) and an onslaught of bots, scammers, and fakes.  In it’s heyday the app was refreshing.  It struck a chord with the essence of everyday behavioral norms of attraction.  I mean come on, who hasn’t swiped left/right in their heads when walking by people on the street!  The swipe technology was revolutionary and lead to a virtual empire in the dating app world.  But with recent stagnation and poor performance it has swiftly fallen from grace.  However there is hope – the fall of this great empire has given rise to new and better options.

Such is the case with the rise of a new app hey there…, recently out of beta and released for both Apple (iOS) and Android.  hey there…, like Tinder of yesteryear, offers a refreshing spin.  Not only is it easy to use but it also integrates social connectivity & true-to-life intuitive behaviors.  Most importantly it capitalizes on friend based introductions which has been proven to be the best way to create a successful long term match.  Where Tinder just noted common friends, hey there… turns those passive notations into actual users that provide direct influence in the entire dating experience. That’s correct – hey there… turns friends into actual digital matchmakers that can pick out matches and provide real-time advice when chatting!

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Much like the way Tinder tapped into everyday human nature versus dependencies on matching algorithms, hey there… capitalizes on friend input rather than robotics.  Fact is our friends & family members having been bridging the gap in social circles for decades.  Now, hey there…  app gives friends the ability to take back their matchmaking role just in digital form.  

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Created in Massachusetts the hey there… team has been regionally testing a beta iOS version in New England.  With positive feedback and results, including some highly successful matches (real-life matches – not tinder swipe matches), the team has now moved from beta to full launch with release of Android.  

Founders, Todd Staples & Kevin Trainor, say “Our primary goal with hey there… is to give people the best chance of finding a real world match using the drivers that are so evident in the real world, friend introductions.  The incumbents use fuzzy metrics to classify a match where we want true-to-real-life matches. We look at the people joining as members & friends where the big players in the industry look at people solely as numbers/users.”

Look for hey there… app on the Apple App Store & Google Play.  The founders are working to enhance the current version based on user feedback.  “We take feedback from our members seriously and are committed to building the best application that will deliver desired results.  Our app is only successful if it builds real offline relationships!”  – founders Kevin & Todd.  

 

HeyThere… on Itunes (Apple)

HeyThere… on Google Play (Android)

Wingman wisdom… Make the first date a first meet!

Wingman wisdom… Make the first date a first meet!

It’s a match!  Everything has clicked and you are ready to transition from the digital world into the real one.  The pressure is on to figure out the where, when and what to do!  Planning the first date is challenging!  Especially when you are moving from online to off.  You really don’t know all that much about the person.  I mean come on…how much insight can you really have from a weeks worth of sharing photos, texts and maybe even a brief phone call.  With so little insight into your “match” how the hell do you plan a great first date?  In my expert wingman opinion, you don’t!  Don’t even think about it till after the first meet!

 

Changing “date” to “meet”!

It’s estimated that online daters spends on average $20k on dating related expenses within a five year span.  Now imagine how much time and effort is also exhausted!  Whoa, Right!  Unfortunately, the modern digital dating scene is really tough.  It’s riddled with fakes, scammers, and ill-intentioned folks misrepresenting themselves in all ways.  This often leads to one bad date after another.  Ultimately leading to a great amount of disappointment!  So, what’s the best way to take your connection offline?

After years of experience I found a very simple and effective solution; the “first meet” rule!  This simple rule will change your entire dating experience!  First, simply substitute “meet” for “date.”  This immediately lowers expectations to a more reasonable level.  Next, change your mind set to be more connection focused.  Think of it like this… before you can make a real first date doesn’t it make sense to see if there is an in-person connection!  Finally, get rid of all the pressure!  The connotation of “date” is so damn rigid and formal.  So to alleviate all pressure it’s best to simplify the first get together entirely.

Every “first meet” should be casual, simple, and light.  This allows for both parties to be me comfortable and to just be yourselves.  To really make your “first meets” great follow these simple rules…

Wingman Tips Rules

  1. Keep it casual!  You are not walking down the aisle just yet in a tux or gown.  It’s just a first meeting and no need for unnecessary pressures.  For example make plans to meet up at low key coffee shop where you can spend some time chatting.  Yes, it is a bit cliche.  However it is a highly effective!    A huge plus here – it’s much easier to leave a bad first meet than an extravagant dinner date.  
  2. Set a maximum time!  Keep the meeting to an hour max.  Mention this prior to meeting so that there is no misunderstanding.  An hour is ample time to make a first impression and to know if the potential exists for a future romantic connection.  Best perk is this minimizes the max time on bad first meets.  
  3. No pressure mindset!  Knowing you are only meeting the person versus having a date should remove all unnecessary pressures.  This makes it easier for you to just be yourself and enjoy the time getting to know one another.  Maybe you will find a new friend or maybe it’s time to plan a romantic date.  Just go with what feels right!

There are couple primary benefits to “first meet” rule.  First, if there is no connection it’s super easy to move past all negative experiences.  Most important, if you do hit it off, it is a lot more fun and easier to plan a romantic first date.

 

My Personal Experience

This advice comes directly from my own personal experiences.  During the time I was creating hey there… dating app I was very active on the dating scene.  Date after date without any romantic connection.  I was getting extremely frustrated with lack of results.  So much so that I began questioning online dating all together.  I knew I had to do something to make it into the fun experience it was intended to be. So I created the “first meet” rule!   It immediately had a profound effect on my dating life.  I started having fun meeting people again.  I was less concerned about results and more happy to have the opportunity to meet new people. I made many new friends as a result.  Ultimately, I ended up meeting one amazing woman!  It all started with a simple meet up over a coffee at Starbucks.  We instantly hit it off and couldn’t wait to see each other again.  We planned a romantic date soon there after.  Many dates later we are still together and looking forward to a future together.  We often look back at our first meeting and try to encourage others to take the same positive approach we had that day.  No pressure, carefree, and just enjoying the opportunity to meet someone new with the potential for romantic connection.  There is an old saying that goes something like…  “it’s not where you are that matters but rather who you’re with that does.”  In essence that is the meaning of the “first meet!”   Dating can be so damn complicated.  In my opinion there is no need to make it even more complicated with unnecessary pressures of grandiose first dates.  The connection is with the who ….not the where, when, or what!

 

Staying safe when online dating…

Hey There… 2017

With online dating season now in full swing it’s important to be a little cautious as the potential for danger lurks around every corner.  Scams are on the rise costing online daters more than just a broken heart.  Scams cost singles hundreds of millions of dollars every year.  But the hardships of online dating are not reserved for just criminal scammers.  Many online daters fall prey to serial daters that break hearts at every click.

A great article in the Chicago Tribune from Jackie Pilossoph describes an experience with one of her online dating friends and offers some great tips for staying safe.  

Pilossoph offers these valuable insights into online dating to protect your heart and well being…

“1. Be Mindful When Posting Pictures: Online dating means exposing your photos to thousands of men and women you know nothing about. So, while people always want to show off their children and express how much they love being a parent, it’s not worth strangers seeing the photos. Once you have met the person a few times and trust him or her, that’s when showing photos of your kids is great.

2. Talk to the person on the phone before meeting. Also, meet in a public place where you feel comfortable and take your own car.

3. Do a Google search and Google image search. These days, it’s so easy to check someone out yourself. Once you know the person’s last name, start with a Google Image search. You can learn a lot, most notably, if the person is assuming someone else’s identity or is pretending to be someone else (also known as “catfishing.”)

4. Don’t put your last name, your address or where you work on dating apps.

5. Use Facebook referrals. In other words, if you see that the two of you have mutual friends on Facebook, reach out to those people and ask about him or her.

6. Don’t use your regular cellphone or home phone. Instead, you can use a Google Voice account, which is a free service that you can easily sign up for at no charge. If you want to go a step further, there is a new app called Burner, which is a phone number that disappears if you choose to no longer allow this person to contact you.

7. Don’t share and check in where you are going on Facebook. Instead, post pictures when you get home. There is no need for anyone to know that you aren’t at home, especially someone you might have dated where the relationship ended badly.

8. Don’t spend too much time in a texting/phone relationship. After a few conversations or a couple weeks at the most, move it offline or move on to someone else.

9. Expect that you will meet people who disappear for no reason. It’s hard not to take things personally when dating, so if someone stops responding or is suddenly not on the app anymore, assume he or she either got back together with someone else or met someone special and decided to be exclusive. We would all like to hope that someone would give us an explanation, but that usually doesn’t happen. Try to move on and realize it was most likely nothing you said or did.”

No matter how experienced you are online always remember the hearts desire to find companionship and love can be blind to the dangers that await online.  It’s always great practice to keep a level head.  Whether you are online or off in pursuit of love always keep one eye open to guard against hurt, while keeping on eye closed to take a chance on the unknown.  Stay safe and best of love this 2017!

Full article from Jackie Pilossoph:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/evanston/lifestyles/ct-evr-love-essentially-tl-0128-20160120-column.html