The pitch sounded interesting. “Have you ever been out for a date? But then asked for a second, and told ‘You deserve better?'”
Co-Founder and CEO Zvi Fogel put a picture of George Costanza stammering through a classic Seinfeld-esque breakup at Jerusalem’s StartUp Open recently. Maybe this would be a way to review what we do wrong in relationships?
But it is much more than dating advice.
Fogel introduced his and Co-Founders Yair Timna and Nathan Wahnich’s newly launched app Frank, which lets friends anonymously rank your friendliness, intelligence, generosity, athleticism, and even your attractiveness. But why would people subject themselves to how others perceive them? Fogel told Geektime that people reach a point when they want to improve how they function.
“You might go to a job interview and you get a negative answer. You don’t know how to improve for the next one. It’s the same with dates. We’re social creatures. Often times we are unaware of things we do that are socially unacceptable.”
The app is meant to get a real idea of what your friends, co-workers and family think of you and then ameliorate your character flaws and bad habits. Once the app is fed with that information, the platform offers feedback and tips for improvement. If you are prone to distraction, you might get advice to help you focus; if you get easily upset, the app will give you some pointers.
He tells the story of one friend, who after several unsuccessful rounds of dating, did not welcome the rather, dare I say, frank advice that he gave her.
They have not spoken since, but Frank was born out of the encounter.
A gateway to bullying?
We asked Fogel if he and his team think the app could eventually encourage bullying among younger users?
“It is actually the most important point for us. Unlike other apps, the system is private. You’re the only person seeing the results so public shaming isn’t a factor. But we are very weary,” he cautioned Geektime.
Fogel is quick to say he knows this clearly does not cover all the risks of this kind of platform. Users will also be given the option to prevent certain people from rating them or sending them messages. Scores are only gathered with a sufficient amount of data, so one person’s opinion doesn’t weigh too heavily.
Receiving negative feedback, even with affirmative tips backed by positive psychology, might be too much for some people. Fogel said they were anticipating this could come up, but users should understand what the platform is.
“If you get low scores,” the platform will remind you that, “You are not alone” before providing you some sound advice on fixing bad habits. “Of course, nobody is perfect. We will tell you how to use parts that are strong to improve the parts that are weaker.”
But in Fogel’s opinion, “You should live in reality. It is better to see things as they are and not let people talk behind your back. All the questions we have in the app are positive, to help people and not to harm them.”
Different strokes for different markets
Circling back to why physical appearance is judged on the app, Fogel pointed out that for better or worse some markets consider physical appearance a worthy investment beyond just make up. In other words, they want to know more.
“South Korea has a high rate of plastic surgery. In France, the cafe chairs face the street because it is part of the culture to be a little judgmental” of the people walking by. As for Canada, people could never do this sort of thing to your face.
The app is in beta right now with about 4,000 users. By the end of this year, they hope to grab 60,000 users and by the end of 2016, one million. Fogel and co. are gearing up for another round of presentations in Canada, France, and South Korea beginning this November.
In Israel, Fogel’s home base, people are notoriously direct about what they think. After a hearty chuckle at the suggestion that Israelis might be bewildered by the anonymous part of the app, Fogel said that while Israel was definitely a market that might be more into this than others, the true measure of success would be the great white north.
“If we can make this work in Canada, we’ll make it anywhere.”
And as for that dating help we wondered about above? It’s on the menu.
In addition to a custom feature that lets you add questions you would like friends to answer about you, peers will have the chance to click a small heart on someone’s profile if they find that person attractive. That friend will never know you did that, unless he or she incidentally clicks the same option in the other direction.
“In a romantic way, it will enable you to know who finds you attractive. If two people both indicate attractiveness, then you get informed of a match.”
Then anonymity becomes destiny. Maybe.
Featured Image Credit: YouTube