OPW INTERVIEW - May 12 - ON is a photo-centric app that just passed one million users and is doing particularly well with the 18-24 set. I interviewed the CEO Dan Sherman. - Mark Brooks
What is ON?
ON is an Android and iOS app that is best described as the "Instagram for meeting new people". We use proprietary social networking and geo-discovery technology to instantly connect users using the medium that cuts through all the clutter – photos. Many apps that are out there today are focused on connecting you with people within your circles of friends. ON is focused on connecting users to people they don't already know. It uses an Instagram interface but allows you to search for people you have never met using criteria in an open environment.
Think about it as a new and improved Badoo, with the difference being that ON was built from the ground up as a photo-centric app. My team and I built everything from the basis that it is the app experience that counts first and the web follows.
Why is it attracting so many young users?
Over 50% of our users are in the 18-24 age group. The reason for this I believe comes down to the ON user interface. We looked at the users experience for the best-in-class apps that people use every day. So people feel very comfortable and familiar with the UX at the outset. This familiarity factor really helps with conversions to active users.
Users make friends and build relationships through app-based photo sharing. They use the app to follow, like, chat or message.
What's the secret sauce?
The reason it gets much greater attention from the younger demographic is because a platform based on a combination of photo sharing and messaging has become the foundation for all the most popular apps and web sites. It's what all the younger population is doing and its become the standard that all the successful sites and apps must deliver. Younger users are living on Snapchat, Intagram, Facebook, etc. We have some unique features that we think enhance the overall experience, but it all starts with a high quality photo sharing and chat foundation.
What are your engagement metrics?
Our users are on the app on average over 3 times a day – as compared to a Benchmark Metric for other Social apps of 2 times a day. Once on the app our users stay on – typically a session will on average last over 40 to 50 seconds, versus the benchmark of 30 seconds. We see very strong user engagement – people just like spending time on the app interacting with others.
What's your founding story?
Myself and a four other developers starting working on the app in 2012 and we launched in 2014. We were looking for a better alternative for meeting new people that was mobile-centric and didn’t have the stale look and feel of the older web-based sites.
What is your background?
I graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelors degree in Computer Science and Engineering. With a background in high-traffic websites, and a passion for mobile apps, I founded ChickenBrick Studios, a creator of games and apps for iOS and Android. We have a great track record of developing successful apps including: the first real-time multiplayer game on Android; a top 10 finance app; and a number of award winning games. In 2013 ChickenBrick developed a platform to allow game developers to easily add social features to their games, offering drop-in leader-boards, achievements, friends lists, and push notifications via SwarmConnect. I've also created over 40 apps for CBS College Sports, Rosetta Stone's Android app, and many more. Our apps have been installed by tens of millions of users so my team brings unparalleled mobile experience to the ON product.
You just passed one million unique users on ON. What proportion of them came from referral versus advertising?
Our growth has been 99% organic and word of mouth. We have had almost no advertising. We are very excited about our newest high profile user that has recently started to use and promote the site – the entertainer Pitbull. With over 63 million fans on Facebook we’re sure to see a big impact from his presence on our site.
How is Pitbull helping to grow the site?
Pitbull has just started to use and promote the app. He recently discovered it and began promoting it because he liked the app so much. We are pleased he is helping us build the community – with the huge community of followers he has I'm sure his activity and support will help drive registrations and downloads quite significantly.
What are your goals for the app and site for 2015-2016?
Our goal is to increase the pace of adding users, primarily through organic growth but also with a modest investment in advertising. Overall we are looking to build towards a user base of over 10 million people over the next one to two years. And of course we are always looking for ways to keep improving the product to provide the best overall user experience because we know that is what will ultimately drive the growth with continued loyalty and engagement of our users.
How are you monetizing the app?
We are monetizing through a freemium model, much like many of the other social apps and websites, like Badoo, Skout, etc.
What do you think of Tinder charging now?
Tinder has also gone the route of a freemium model - like ON. So the user can pay extra for special features but the core app is still free. We strongly believe that this is the right model for apps in the social space and think it is a smart move on their part to go this direction.
Post by Mark Brooks @