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SwoonMe makes use of avatars and audio for its ‘much less superficial’ relationship app

A brand new startup referred to as SwoonMe goals to repair the issue with superficial relationship apps, the place customers primarily make choices based mostly on how somebody seems of their photographs. As an alternative of swiping by way of profiles, SwoonMe’s thought is to make use of a mix of avatars and audio to encourage customers to attach based mostly on somebody’s character, not their look.

To make use of the app, you are taking a selfie which SwoonMe converts into an avatar. That is what others will see once they come to your profile. You then document a voice clip to inform others about your self and what you’re on the lookout for in a companion. You’ll additionally reply a number of questions — like whether or not you’re on the lookout for marriage or one thing extra informal and what your love language is (e.g. bodily contact, items, phrases of affirmation, and so forth.), amongst different issues.

The result’s that when individuals scroll by way of SwoonMe, they’re not making snap choices based mostly on what they’re seeing, however are slightly making extra considerate choices based mostly what they hear. When two individuals match, the app encourages them to proceed to get to know one another utilizing voice messages and shortly, icebreaker video games — not texting and photo-sharing. As they impart, their avatar will slowly unveil their actual picture.

Picture Credit: SwoonMe

The thought for SwoonMe comes from Tanvi Gupta, a former Fb product specialist who was concerned with quite a lot of high-profile merchandise, together with people who shipped in Messenger and in Instagram Direct, corresponding to Messenger reactions, a Messenger redesign, chat heads on Android, and extra. This expertise taught her rather a lot about launching new merchandise constructed from scratch, and serving to them to seek out product-market match, she says.

However Gupta determined to construct SwoonMe due to her personal private struggles with modern-day relationship apps, the place males who messaged her instantly wished to share selfies and meet her with out having learn something on her profile.

“The relationship world all the time felt super-indexed on seems, given the proliferation of apps like Tinder and Bumble,” Gupta explains. “And what I felt was they weren’t fixing my private want for any person who needs to attach for a long-term relationship,” she says.

Gupta started work on SwoonMe throughout the pandemic, when the market was hungry for brand new methods to attach individuals on-line — a development that had led to the launch of audio apps like Clubhouse and, later, its many clones. The founder says she was additionally impressed by Clubhouse, because it demonstrated the potential in audio-based social networking, together with the way it may very well be used for extra private connections.

“Platforms like Clubhouse have proven that taking video and appears out of the equation enable individuals to lean into precise matters,” Gupta says. “It creates new ranges of intimacy and interplay, and we’re principally attempting to seize this with SwoonMe, however within the relationship world.”

Although SwoonMe isn’t essentially restricted solely to individuals on the lookout for relationships, it might initially enchantment to that demographic as a result of it requires a bit extra time and focus to take heed to soundbites and interact in audio-based messaging. This expertise can be extra more likely to entice somebody who’s taking relationship extra significantly, not somebody searching for a fast hookup or causal connection.

Picture Credit: SwoonMe

SwoonMe is just not the primary social app to make use of avatars as a substitute of photographs, nonetheless. Avatar-based social discovery apps have been well-liked in different markets in Asia and in Brazil, however have but to see broad, mainstream adoption within the U.S., notably within the relationship market. Which will quickly change, although, as Tinder dad or mum Match Group this yr acquired Seoul-based social app maker Hyperconnect — its greatest acquisition ever at $1.73 billion. AR-powered avatars are part of the app portfolio that got here with the deal.

The startup can also be not the primary relationship app to take the thought of the “face reveal” — a considerably gimmicky concept popularized by on-line creators — into the world of relationship. There are a selection of voice-based apps on the app shops as we speak, which have seen various levels of success.

In February, for instance, an app referred to as Jigsaw raised $3.7 million for its personal so-called “anti-superficial” relationship app that locations puzzle items over customers’ faces which may solely be eliminated after a pre-set quantity of in-app engagement. However in Jigsaw’s case, the puzzle items had been to be utilized over full physique photographs, and it had banned selfies. Which means the app was doing the alternative of what it proposes. As an alternative of encouraging daters to disregard pictures, some customers had been doubtless making choices based mostly on what somebody’s physique regarded like of their picture with their face eliminated. That’s even worse. (After expressing my issues to Jigsaw and declining to cowl them, the startup advised me it ended its selfie ban and now accepts a variety of images.)

Gupta additionally feels strongly that girls, particularly, deserve a distinct approach to meet people who’s not about their seems alone.

“As a feminine, one of many primary drivers behind founding an organization like SwoonMe, which is audio-first and never photographs, is as a result of I personally am drained, and have been drained, of being objectified by males…We’re dwelling within the twenty first century and I’m executed with that. I would like somebody to love me due to my character, due to my voice, due to what I deliver right into a relationship,” she says. “Positive, bodily attraction is vital, however that’s not the one factor,” Gupta provides.

Because it seems, there’s demand for a much less superficial relationship app from males, too. In reality, SwoonMe at present has extra male customers than feminine at current. The app, to be clear, is open to all gender identities and sexual orientations as the problems it goals to resolve can influence everybody. It additionally provides an inclusive sign-up circulation.

Although it’s too quickly to report consumer numbers and progress, Gupta says the app has “ quantity” of early testers and so they’ve been capable of get strong consumer suggestions up to now.

The larger query for SwoonMe is whether or not or not it may well entice individuals on the lookout for actual relationships, as lots of these individuals avoid dating apps altogether. It’s additionally competing with a rising variety of video-first relationship apps, like Snack, aimed toward Gen Z customers who’re extra snug filming themselves due to their use of social media platforms like TikTok.

At launch, SwoonMe doesn’t generate income, however plans so as to add premium options if it reaches scale. Longer-term, the corporate wish to broaden its platform past relationship to assist preserve {couples} linked throughout their relationship, too.

SwoonMe soft-launched throughout each the App Store and Play Store for beta testing, however is as we speak asserting its official launch. At present, SwoonMe is concentrating on the relationship markets of San Francisco and L.A., however is open to anybody who needs to attempt it.

The startup is a small workforce and at present working to boost $1 million in seed funding.