OPW INTERVIEW - Planet Theta is the world's first Virtual Reality dating app. The app's founder and CMO, Aurora Townsend, believes metaverse is the future of dating because it addresses the top concerns that people have with traditional dating apps - privacy and security.
The metaverse is considered the next step in the evolution of the Internet, but how close are we to the real experience?
Real metaverse experiences are already here, and there are many things to do in VR, such as playing poker, going out to comedy clubs, playing tennis, or shopping. As the VR user base continues to double every year, we can expect the variety and quality of metaverse experiences to scale to that need, bringing endless opportunities. This November, Planet Theta will be open to the public.
What is Planet Theta's founding story? How did you come up with the app's name?
Planet Theta's origin was covid. Most of the people I know became lonely and depressed and began looking for ways to connect and date other than meeting in person. Many of us tried group phone and video calls, but they did not fill the void. One day I was playing a VR game with a couple of friends, and it dawned on us that we may have found the answer - using VR, technology's most immersive way to connect. Theta means rebirth, and we created Planet Theta to help foster a rebirth of dating culture. We push personal interaction and chemistry back to the forefront of dating. We call it Microdating. Instead of focusing first on profiles, on Planet Theta matchmaking is about testing chemistry.
How is the app funded?
Our CEO, Chris Crew, contributed ~$1M to start the development of Planet Theta. Since then, we have raised funds from a few seed investors and are currently looking for a larger investor to help us navigate our launch. If you are interested in investing in Planet Theta, please take a look at our investor's website: https://investplanettheta.com.
What are the biggest challenges you are facing right now?
VR is expanding so fast that our target audience is an ever-changing factor of demographics as it grows. This is a unique challenge for our marketing team.
How does Planet Theta stand out from other dating apps, and how does it work? Describe the experience.
Most dating apps are matchmaking apps - there is no dating within the apps, and there is no chemistry testing, which is an essential part of any relationship. On Planet Theta, we have replaced Swiping with Microdating. A user selects Microdating within the app, and the AI sets the user up with three consecutive 75s Microdates with three users the AI thinks they may like. After each microdate, users will be prompted to rate their date with a thumbs up or down. At the end of the three microdates, users will be notified of their new "matches" (where both users gave a thumbs up) and be encouraged to invite them to a Coffee Date. Matches can chat on our associated phone app (mainly to schedule a Coffee Date) but will not be able to share pics or see each other's profiles until after going on a Coffee Date. The Coffee Date is a 3-minute date in our cafe. This is a chance to find out if you can have a good conversation. We encourage couples to go on a few dates, like taking a walk in our Enchanted Forest together or watching a new movie at our allrites© theater.
Who do you consider your biggest competitor in the metaverse space?
To our knowledge, we are building the only VR app dedicated to dating. People have been dating in VR for years on VRChat, Altspace, and other social VR apps. We don't see Social VR apps as competitors. Their environments are almost entirely user-created, allow children, and most importantly, the apps are not focused on dating. Some really cool web 2.0 apps are matchmaking apps in the traditional sense, just focused on helping people make VR connections. We see these apps as partners rather than competitors.
How do you protect your users from abuse?
A lot of our vision is about prioritizing the comfort and safety of women. Planet Theta helps them filter out who they want to meet in the physical world. There is no way to look through a list of profiles or to message random people. Users can only see the profiles of other users after going on a short coffee date in Planet Theta. Some of the more apparent features include an ability to silence, block, or report other users, we'll be using human moderators in public spaces, and of course, a personal bubble that protects your space from being intrusively invaded. The personal bubble will not be an on/off switch but a decreasing setting relative to how much time other users have spent with you in Planet Theta. The longer a couple is dating, the smaller the bubble until it disappears altogether.
Where do you see Planet Theta a year from now?
We expect Planet Theta to be the fastest-growing dating app on the market. Word of mouth will propel Planet Theta into the mainstream as women explain to their friends how much safer and easier it is to date on Planet Theta than on traditional dating apps. By next year if you haven't yet been on a VR date, I expect you'll know someone who has.