OPW INTERVIEW - July 24
You've been working in mobile for ten years. You've worked for Orange and Apple. What was it like at Apple in 2007? You were one of those responsible for the launch of the iPhone.
It was absolutely amazing to be part of the experience.
Did you meet Steve?
I hadn't met Steve, but I had seen him many times. I did attend a few of the keynotes he gave.
It's an amazing product culture there. How has that rubbed off on Meexo?
Before iPhone launched, very few people really felt this emotional connection with the device. The online dating industry is at the same point. We have yet to see products that people really love. This is what we wanted to build.
People love Apple products. What do you think they love and hate about mobile dating?
There's a lot of creepiness associated with mobile dating, especially for women. The creepiness is typically sharing your location with strangers. Women don't necessarily want to meet guys anytime, anywhere. Mobile is not only about location. It's about all the things that make the platform unique. We limit the number of profiles per device to one. No more fake profiles. If you do misbehave, we can not only block your account, but also block your device.
You've been working with Meexo a little over a year now. What's your founding story? What led you to start Meexo?
When I considered online dating there was not a product that I wanted to try willingly. I was very uncomfortable with the way people could join and expose their profile to anyone. We introduced a product at TechCrunch Disrupt called the Reverse Social Graph. It prevents your profile from being exposed to all of your direct connections on social networks.
There seems to be two schools of thought here. One is that your friends should be matchmakers for you. A few apps have taken this approach. So you're taking the opposite route. There is the ability when you sign up to only allow certain kinds of friends or acquaintances see that you're on the app. But I'm not sure everybody knows that or really uses that.
Exactly. We obviously let you see friends of friends, because in real life, this is how people meet their partner. We decided to file a patent because we think this is definitely something that is going to be huge in the future.
Would you describe Meexo as a mobile dating app or is it more friends-making?
Our goal is really around relationships. The online dating industry should be called online introduction industry. There's another world that starts when you actually meet the person face to face. We are trying to provide value beyond the introductions.
Can you tell us about ‘Us’?
If you meet someone on Meexo, you have the opportunity to connect your phone to your date's phone to see what music you have in common with theirs. You see the albums floating on the two screens. You can start a conversation this way. So we provide these ways to break the ice and come up with some potentially interesting things to say.
What features are you most proud of?
Reverse Social Graph is definitely one of them. The other thing is scarcity of communication. Men tend to message a lot and women tend to be overwhelmed with these messages. The app is free and you only pay if you want to initiate conversations. You can reply for free. We want people to be very picky and thoughtful about what they say instead of spamming all of our users.
Are you charging for points yet?
You launched at TechCrunch Disrupt and SXSW. Which one was better for you?
When we announced our product at TechCrunch Disrupt, we were very lucky. We were very proud to be one of these companies that took stage as part of the final round. Unfortunately, we could not launch our product at TechCrunch Disrupt, it was just too early for us. We launched at SXSW. We were also very fortunate to be one of the finalists in the mobile category of SXSW.
What was some surprising feedback that you got?
The Reverse Social Graph was something people never really thought about and that resonated with a lot of people. We did make some adjustments based on what we learned.
How do you deal with geo-location?
We use GPS to know the city where you are, but we don't share your exact location with people you don't know.
What other mobile dating services do you hold in high esteem?
OKCupid and Grindr.
Have you actually developed the app in-house or did you use a third party?
We built everything in-house. We're using a company called Stackmob for our back-end that provides the technology so you can focus on your core product.
What are the technologies that it was built on? What choices did you make for tech?
For us, it's iOS, objective C. It's a native application. We wanted the app to be fast and take advantage of the device 's capabilities. That's why we didn't want to do a mobile web version. It was very important to focus on the user experience.
HTML5 has great days ahead of it. In the case of LinkedIn, it makes sense. It's mostly a browsing experience. In our case, we wanted to be able to tap into the phone's camera API. We wanted to tap into the location API. We wanted to use the core capabilities of the device that HTML5 sites could not access. HTML5 in the future? Yes. HTML5 now? I don't think it's ready for what we want to do.
Let's fast forward a year. What makes Meexo standout for membership? Where are you at in a year?
I think we're going to see a lot of things around this concept of meaningful relationships. This is the one aspect of social networking that has been left behind. We think there's opportunity there. We started focusing on dating, but this is part of this meaningful relationship concept.