Albert Nguyen wants to improve the online dating experience for women. While apps like Austin-based Bumble put women in the driver's seat, requiring them to make the first move, Nguyen wants men to put more effort into online dating.
As co-founder of Austin's newest dating app, LUCK, Nguyen feels that when men mindlessly swipe right on apps like Tinder or Bumble, it creates more work and frustration for women. His bootstrapped app takes a different approach.
Nguyen believes that other apps incentivize men to swipe right so it seems like they have more options. “A bunch of guys just swipe right all the time and it overloads the system with meaningless matches,” he says.
To combat this, LUCK has created a three-swipe system. “In our system, a right swipe is a 'real' like, a down swipe is a 'fun' like and left is not interested,” he explains. (It should be noted that while LUCK does focus on heterosexual relationships, it is open to all.)
LUCK launched for iPhone users across the U.S. on November 1. According to Nguyen, LUCK is getting downloads from across the country, with the highest concentrations of users in Austin and New York City.
Users only match with each other if they both choose the same real or fun like. “Real being a committed relationship, fun being everything else,” Nguyen says. “There’s wiggle room for users to decide what real and fun means.”
Once two users match, they’re able to message each other but the copy and paste function is disabled so users can't recycle the same tired messages to every match. “People [on other dating apps] end up using the same line over and over,” Nguyen says. “It makes online dating conversation really monotonous.”
Word puzzles gamify the initial conversation and provide another hurdle. "They are presented with a keyboard that's missing a few letters, and have to use the letters they're given to craft an interesting opener,” Nguyen says. “The letters we give them are randomized each time, so every match is a different 'puzzle.'"
Nguyen says this helps filter out users who aren't willing to make the effort. "We hope that by getting guys to spend time working on these puzzles, they will value their matches more," he adds. Currently, if users tweet about the app, they get a few extra letters on their keyboard to make things a bit easier. Nguyen says this will eventually be replaced with an in-app purchase in which users pay to get these extra letters.
There’s also a 24-hour window when fun matches can communicate and a five day window for real matches. “We don’t want people becoming pen pals and just chatting with each other for weeks on end,” Nguyen says. “We want to encourage people to meet in real life, so that’s why we have those time limits.”
But will guys actually jump through these hoops when they still have Tinder and Bumble available to them? That remains to be seen. “I think people are curious to see how this experiment plays out,” Nguyen concludes.