Started in Paris, Happn integrates the real world with the virtual dating world. The app, with over 30 million users, has raised $22 million and hopes to touch 10 million users by the end of 2017.
“Entre deux cœurs qui s’aiment, nul besoin de paroles.” Two hearts in love need no words.
Time was when dating meant meeting someone at a coffee shop or local bar, or drawing on your courage to walk up to a stranger and getting to know him or her. Gone are those days for we now live in a world of swipe and decide. The world has opened up to the possibility of no boundaries and our access seems seamless.
“And yet, in this digital world, we are more disconnected,” says Claire Certain, Head of Global Trends and Events, Happn.
When Didier Rappaport, Founder and CEO, Happn, launched his app in Paris 2014, the Frenchman made a strong observation – there were already several dating apps on the market, but they didn’t have a real feel and seemed deceptive.
How to find someone online
“People say you will find love because of a match-making algorithm. We don’t believe that.”
A serial entrepreneur, Didier has also founded DailyMotion, one of the largest video platforms. He started Happn with the idea of bringing the real world into the virtual dating world. With the world today shrinking and yet the number of people looking to meet someone online growing, it seemed to be the right time to launch.
An article in The Telegraph says Tinder has been downloaded over 40 million times globally since 2012 and the collective swipes on the profiles have been close to 1 billion times per day.
“We don’t have a swipe feature on Happn because when you swipe someone left or right you transform that person into an object. We believe is important for people to connect with each other. We wanted to present our users with a tool with which they can connect with one another,” Didier says.
Bringing in the digital and real world connect
However, Didier adds that today building the technology isn’t tough; there is enough know-how on challenges and how to ensure your product/service addresses a gap in the market. With Happn, the key work was how to bring integration between the digital and the real world?
Happn, which claims to have over 35 million users around the world and operates in 50 major cities spread across 40 countries. It also had a big launch in Mumbai in April this year and roped Hrithik Roshan as their brand ambassador.
“We believe that love happens when you don’t expect it. Using the unique combination of IPO lock and real-time location mapping, you see people around you when you open the Happn app. People are real and aren’t virtual; they live and work near around you. And we believe that being in the same place at the same time has a lot of meaning,” Didier explains.
Happn wants to ensure that people who have crossed paths in real life find a technology driven way of meeting each other. While Happn is relatively newer than other dating sites, the platform has already raised $22 million in three funding rounds.
The team adds that currently they are signing up over a million users in a month and hope to touch 10 million by the end of the year. The team has also raised an additional $14 million, which they aim to use to expand across Asia, South America, deeper into Europe and the US.
Big, crowded and yet distant cities
“Our focus generally is on the big cities. If you take a Mumbai, Paris or New York, the density of people is higher, but everyone is busy. Meeting people you could connect with on a deeper level is much more challenging. Whatever maybe your reasons, everyone is looking for love. With Happn, the idea is to make it simpler with a real-world connection,” Claire says.
The Happn team adds that this is true even for India. In a survey conducted in the country, they found that people find people to date through friends and family, work and online.
Happn is free for women; men need to pay to send charms. The charms cost credits, available in packs of 10, 60, 100 and 300. This is a common concept in gaming – in-app purchasing.
In 2015, this sector was flush with VC funds, and startups like iCrushiFlush, Banihal, TrulyMadly, Plush, Dil Mil and Aisle received a lot of VC love. International dating apps like Tinder, OKCupid and Hinge also entered India, tweaking their marketing strategy to balance local values with global dating trends.
Finding love when you least expect it
However, dating apps over the years have come under scrutiny regarding the kind of people who are on the platform and user safety.
“When you are on Happn, you chat with people who want to chat with you too. Everything on the app is mutual. The settings are mutual too. Say a 50-year-old man wants to meet a 25-year-old woman. If the woman isn’t interested, the man won’t see that particular girl at all. There has to be double acceptance for the conversation to go ahead,” Didier explains.
Claire adds that Happn also has a 24X7 client support team, which immediately looks into reports and claims and helps users in case they feel unsafe.
‘’Our mission is to facilitate real-life meetings and bring in moments that create relationships when you least expect them,” Didier says.