OPW - Mark Brooks interviewed Karima Ben Abdelmalek, the CEO of Happn at the Online Dating Summit that took place last week in New York. They discussed the unique features of Happn, its target market, the potential for growth in the industry, challenges, and the use of AI in the app. They also talked about the possibility of incorporating VR or augmented reality into Happn in the future. Karima also presented the results of their survey (Happn's Online Trends) conducted in Brazil, Nordic countries, and France, which revealed what users expect from Happn in the future. The survey found that users want to retain control of their love lives and have a healthy experience that focuses on communication, prevention, information, and education.
Mark: What is the "Je ne sais quoi" of Happn?
Karima: Happn is a dating app that relies on Geo-location to connect people who have crossed paths in real life. The app focuses on finding matches who frequent the same places or areas. Happn's Je ne sais quoi is its ability to connect people with their surroundings and facilitate meaningful in-person interactions.
Mark: Marc Simoncini from Meetic once said that 22 miles is the magic number. Grindr is also focused on location. But let's distinguish between location and vicinity. Grindr's location-based approach is really about connecting individuals in the same general area.
Karima: Meeting someone nearby is not the only aspect we desire. We also want to connect with someone who frequents the same places as us. This shared location serves as a perfect conversation starter.
Mark: What is your target market?
Karima: We are a global company with a strong presence in Western Europe, Latin America, and emerging countries like India. We have ~135M users globally, with 10M in France, 20M in Brazil, and 33M in India.
Mark: Can we discuss the potential for growth in our industry?
Karima: Our industry revolves around human and social behavior, which has boundless potential for growth. With new generations, gender inclusivity, and diverse cultures entering the scene, the sky's the limit for us.
Mark: What could hold us back?
Karima: Our biggest challenge is to combat online dating fatigue and motivate users to transition from online to in-person meetings. Additionally, we need to revisit our business model and introduce more value-added services.
Mark: Can you tell us about how Happn is currently using AI and any plans for the future?
Karima: We are using AI for safety purposes. It helps us identify scammers and bots. We've developed an algorithm that continuously evolves to keep up with the latest tactics used by scammers and bots. We're also exploring the use of picture analysis through AI to uncover shared interests among users. By analyzing the backgrounds in profile pictures, we can gain insight into people's personalities and preferences.
Mark: Can you share your thoughts on how Happn would look like with VR in the next five years?
Karima: While VR is an exciting technology, it doesn't align with our core vision of facilitating real-life meetings between people. Our current priorities are focused on ensuring the safety of our users and keeping our app innovative. However, we do see potential in using augmented reality to gamify the dating experience and provide virtual dates for people to connect before meeting in person. It would be a great ice-breaker.