OPW INTERVIEW - Nov 14 - Julien Robert is Founder of Happy Couple, one of our favorite apps. Irena Brooks (Editor of OPW) and I (Mark Brooks) answer questions about ourselves and our thoughts on how each other would answer the questions. Happy Couple shows us where we guess right. i.e. we understand how each other thinks. It also shows us where we're way off, which is good to know. The app helps couples grow closer by understanding each other's preferences better. Love it! As some if you who have seen my iDate presentations know, I think we (the iDating industry) are leaving an opportunity on the table by not offering follow-on services to users once we've introduced them. Happy Couple could be useful to dating services in this respect.
What's your founding story?
The origin story of the Happy Couple app is the story of a real-life happy couple: Julien and Erin. At first, there was Julien, a French serial entrepreneur and a serial dater, who spent most of his time building businesses and very little time building relationships. Until one day, following a series of life events, Julien decided to reexamine his life, both as an individual and as a partner. Under the guidance of a therapist, Julien began to ask questions to not only learn about himself, but also to understand his partner at the time and what it meant for each of them to be in a relationship. Equipped with life-changing insights and a new approach to relationships, Julien ran into Erin, a Google designer based in San Francisco. And the rest, as they say, is history. But wait! Julien and Erin set out to make history. It didn't take them long to realize that in addition to their mutual attraction and a genuine meeting of minds, they also shared a passion for creating an opportunity for other couples to discover each other in a fun and easy way, start meaningful conversations, and nurture closeness. As Julien began to think of ways to "connect his heart and his brain" (after all, the guy is an engineer), the idea of an app was born. Erin and Julien joined their skills and talents, Julien working full-time and Erin dedicating her weeknights and weekends. They launched Happy Couple app in late 2015. Designed as a game app, Happy Couple provides couples with questions across different life topics, aimed at helping partners to learn about each other in a playful, yet meaningful, way. Thus, one couple’s story of self-discovery and belief in a conscious approach to relationship-building became an inspiration for millions of couples around the world to revisit (and sometimes rebuild) their own relationships by asking questions and starting conversations they otherwise might never have. (And, have fun along the way!)
What does Happy Couple do, for whom?
Happy Couple is a game app for couples at any stage of a relationship, straight or gay, young or not so young. The only requirement: it takes two to play. Couples answer questions from six different life topics, for themselves and for each other, to find out how well they know each other, or to discover something new. When their answers match, they unlock new levels and gain access to more questions. There are also customized questions and tips on building closeness. But beyond the playfulness of the app lies a deeper purpose: to provide couples with an opportunity to ask questions they may never have thought to ask, or just wouldn’t know how.
How many users do you have at this stage?
We have reached half a million unique downloads in two years since the launch. Keep in mind that we have acquired all of our users without any marketing campaigns or outreach. The numbers we have reached so far are thanks to organic searches and referrals.
Here's the breakdown of user behavior:
- 20K daily active users (DAU)
- 35K weekly active users (WAU)
- 60K monthly active users (MAU)
Our most dedicated users play 300+ days in a row. Also, only two years after we launched, our users have been answering more than 100 million questions!
Why should the dating industry take notice? How might you work with them?
Most, if not all, dating apps are focused on introducing people to each other, with a goal of getting them to meet in person and, ultimately, to get into a relationship. When dating apps do a good job, they lose their users. Happy Couple picks up at that point, helping couples to discover each other and further develop their relationship. If you were to look at dating as a user journey, you could say that Happy Couple addresses users' needs at a point where other dating apps stop or become irrelevant. So, we like to think that we offer a continuation of services, rather than work in direct competition with other dating apps. In that regard, we are open to offering our content and technology under white label to other dating app publishers. By using our technology under their own brand, app publishers can extend their user lifetime, increase time spent in app, and boost user lifetime value.
Even though Happy Couple differs from other dating apps in the sense that the focus is on a couple, versus individuals looking for a date and/or relationship, the way users interact with Happy Couple is similar to the game-style experience they have with a number of other popular dating apps: it's easy to use, playful, and fun. For example, if on Tinder users swipe right or left to find a match, in Happy Couple, users answer questions about themselves and their partners, and if their answers match, they earn points. What's different about Happy Couple is the wealth of content, in the form of questions and tips, that offers more substance and opportunities for user engagement. To that end, Happy Couple can share the API and provide access to content, including questions that serve as conversation starters for users and keep them engaged and returning to an app.
Are you raising money now?
What have you raised so far and what will you do with your next raise?
We've raised $600K so far, and plan to raise $500K to invest in marketing and content, with primary focus on user acquisition. We are also looking into offering premium subscriptions for paying users and boosting efforts to keep our existing users more and more engaged and returning to the app more frequently. At the moment, the majority of the app's active couples are daily users. So, we would like to provide them with more in-app activities to help keep up their daily habit.