OPW INTERVIEW - Dec 28 - Sean Rad and Justin Mateen, the founders of Tinder, have something in common with Ryan Surratt. They're all USC grads. Ryan's built 'Wonder' a new dating app that focuses on getting people together for real world experiences, and weeds out the fibbers and ghosters. Here's his overview of the new dating app Wonder, which launches in L.A. in January. - Mark Brooks
What are you most excited about for launch of Wonder?
I'm really excited to see how people respond to Wonder. I think it perfectly fills the void left by other dating apps. You have tinder on one side that is pushing the hookup/single life and then you have Match on the other side which services people that want to get married immediately, but there is nothing for people that want to go out and have a great time doing something they love to do with other people that love to do that same activity. That is really how you connect with someone and have a good time. Maybe it leads to marriage, a lifelong friendship, or maybe it just leads to a fun fling, but I think Wonder opens the possibilities for so many positive experiences for people who are wanting to take things fast or slow. So we are really looking forward to making people's dating experience Wonder'ful.
What inspired you to develop Wonder?
I have been on and off dating sites for years. I've probably gone on 200 dating app dates. So as a User I built Wonder for me and people like me. The person who was tired of going on (what I like to call) Interview dates (You sit and ask questions over dinner or drinks for a couple hours). It can be exhausting doing that. I want to play tennis or hike or go on a bike ride or take a cooking class. I want to have Fun. Because even if I didn't have a romantic connection, I will still have a great time. But all the other dating Apps, none of them help with that. They connect you and then it's up to you. Then there is the scheduling that is a nightmare and the Ghosting and Flaking and Fibbing (lying). So many things that people have a hard time dealing with and makes them give up. With all that difficulty I dealt with, I knew I could do better. I knew that I could make a dating App that I wanted to use. That solves these pain points and helps us to treat each other better as human beings and to function in the dating world with integrity and respect. And so I jumped in and decided to create the next evolution of dating Apps. Something that makes the process seamless and out of that, Wonder was born.
Why do you think dating app users have a hard time planning dates and following through with their plans?
It is HARD to get people to meet up in real life. I found that there are a lot of problems with scheduling and getting out on the date. Studies have shown that people are 80% more likely to do something if they confirm it and write it down. Because there are so many logistics that have to be worked out. WHERE? WHEN? WHAT? Those are all pain points for the dater. I wanted to alleviate that. To make it easy and fun to go on a date. Wonder actually syncs with your phone calendar so the date is scheduled for you with all the information: Place, Activity Time, Person, Address, Phone number of establishment. You get notified when someone confirms, cancels, declines and when they reschedule. Then you get push notification reminders the morning of the day of the date and an hour before. We even have a Uber integration and a reminder about traffic. Also, we have Amazon reminder and integration that automatically shows you items related to your date. Need some tennis balls for your date with Monica because you ran out? We have you covered. Don't want to drive? We will schedule you an Uber. We even have the ability to send a gift after the date. Then we have an anonymous review system, that shows up after your date. Users get to review the establishment they went to. They can notify us if the match flaked (didn't show up), they can tell us if the match fibbed (lied about their height, weight, who they were), and if they want to setup another date with that match. We keep and analyze that data and if we find that a certain user is not acting with integrity, we will warn them and then remove them if they continue behaving in this way. This helps people treat each other better in the dating world. It makes people more reliable and honest. That is what people really want, to have a great time doing something they love to do with someone who acts with kindness, respect and honesty.
How does Wonder make it easy for users to go on dates?
Wonder makes it easy to go on the date because it takes care of all the aspects of online dating. Other dating apps stop at the chat. It's up to the user to figure out where to go and what to do. For us, Swiping is just the beginning. In Wonder, within the chat, there is a "Schedule Wonder" button. When a user presses this button, a Map pops up,showing the User's exact location and the Match's approximate location (not exact for safety reasons). It also shows all the establishments that match the activities that the User and Match like around them. It then gives the User the ability to click on them for more information for each activity establishment icon and gives the User information such as Address, Hours of operation, Phone Number, Reviews, and $ symbol for cost for that establishment. The User then selects an Activity (Tennis, biking, drinks) and invites the Match to a certain time and date to go to that activity. Wonder automatically syncs with the user's calendar so they can select a date and time for them. After they confirm, it send the invitation to the Match where they can confirm, reschedule or decline. If it confirms it puts that date in the Match’s calendar and the User is notified that the Match confirmed. So it makes it super easy to get out on actual fun dates with in real life because Wonder takes all the hard work of picking a date, scheduling a date, and confirming a date!
- Wine Tasting
- Miniature Golf
- And lots more…
All easily found through our Wonder Map! We also have seasonal ones (snowboarding, ice skating, ect.) and limited time stuff that lasts only while the event is happening (Wine tastings, Music festivals etc.). We are going to continue to add and remove date activities based on our users likes and dislikes and also based on the review system which tells us which places are great date spots.
What can you tell us about Vibe videos and how users can utilize the feature?
When talking to online daters, especially women, they expressed a big pain point for them was the fact that they couldn't hear the man's voice or see how he expressed himself with his hands because they wanted to get a better sense of who the person was. The "Vibe" of that person. So I thought, well the best way to solve this is for a person to make a 15-second "Vibe Video" of themselves saying "Hi, what activities they like to do and what makes them Wonder'ful?" This is completely voluntary, but I think it will really help people make clearer choices about who they want to go out with if utilized and it's a fun way to introduce yourself to a potential match.
Can you tell us about fibber ratings and ghost and flake demerits on Wonder?
I think the biggest problem with Online dating and Social media today is a lack of integrity. People Fib (Lie) a lot about who they are, what they look like, what they are interested in. They treat other people as disposable and they Flake (never show up) or Ghost (never respond) because there is no accountability. As a user of dating apps, I have experienced all of these things multiple times. It's painful because you feel rejected and you also never get an answer when this happened so on Wonder I wanted to find a way to take away that pain. I realized the best way to encourage people have more integrity, is by warning people that they are Ghosting or Flaking or Fibbing and then removing them for the app for a certain amount of time. Users can also press the Ghosting button on the chat screen to send the Match a prewritten message that says "Hi (Ashley), Unfortunately, I'm no longer interested but I hope you find someone Wonder'ful. Good Luck!" (Or the User to write in their own message). Once they submit that message, Wonder automatically removes that Match from the User's list. It sends that Ghosting message to the Match. The Match cannot respond to the Users Ghosting message. So the Ghosting feature makes it easy for people say Goodbye in a responsible, respectful, kind manner.
If the User chooses not to send that Ghosting Message or Unmatch from the Match message after receiving the notification that they are Ghosting on someone and a certain amount of time passes after that notification, that User receives a Ghosting Demerit. If a User earns a certain number of Ghosting demerits in a given time period, they will be removed from the app for a length of time.
This works similarly for Flaking and Fibbing Demerits. Though this is handled by the review system. Every confirmed date can be Reviewed by both the User and the Match. They are asked a series of Questions that you can see below. If the User is reported of having Flaked or Fibbed about a number of things then they will receive a Demerit. If they receive enough Demerits they are deactivated from the app for a certain amount of time.
The most important aspect of this is that it helps people act with more integrity and respect by communicating, showing up on time, and being who they represented themselves to be.
What are your plans and goals for 2019?
We are so excited to be launching Wonder in January! We already have 2,000 people that want to get on the App. We are starting in Los Angeles and then branching out over the US and going Global by 2020. We already have the infrastructure in place to serve the world. Also, we are preparing our V2 and V3 versions which have tons of additional features that tap deeper into the post date/relationship world and lots more integrations with other services and activities.
Our goal is to help people to have a Wonder'ful time on dates, treating each other with respect, honesty and kindness all while doing things they love to do with others that also love those things. I think if I could could sum it all up in one sentence - I want us all to find love, be better to each other, and have a great time doing it.