Whim - May 2017 Update
Dear Whim Investors and Friends,
I hope all of you are doing well and enjoying the spring! Here’s a not-so-brief update to let you know what’s happening at Whim. The TLDR is we’re going to sunset our current app Whim, and replace it with an entirely new app and brand called Tonight.
Development of Tonight
Since raising $250k through crowdfunding and angel investment this past January, we’ve been heads-down working on the new app “Tonight”. This is an initiative we began alongside continued iteration on Whim in the latter half of 2016 and went full-time on this year, as it became increasingly clear that the changes we would need to make in order for Whim to thrive were so significant that it made more sense to start fresh, from both a technical and product perspective. Short-term pain, long-term gain.
Tonight is essentially Whim 2.0 (or 3.0, if you count our very first web-based prototype launched in Los Angeles three years ago), but is going to be a distinct product and brand that will replace Whim in the App Store. Tonight maintains the fundamental philosophy of getting people out to meet in real life quickly and directly, but the execution is significantly different. Based on over a year’s worth of data and feedback from Whim users, we’ve changed everything - onboarding, profile viewing and liking, the matching algorithm, the engagement notifications, incentives for date follow-through, the revenue model, the UX flow, the look and feel, the way we moderate and cohort the users, the messaging, and most importantly, the basic process of getting a date. Quite simply, Tonight eliminates the concept of planning for the week ahead, and is all about meeting up with someone tonight.
An irony here is that when I first conceived of Whim in 2014, the tagline was, in fact, Go on a Date Tonight. Along the way, we developed the impression that planning dates ahead for the week would make everything bigger and better for our business and our users - but in the end it turned out to make the user experience cumbersome and undependable, instead of easy and reliable. I believe this major flaw has stood and would continue to stand in the way of Whim ever really taking off. Whim was meant to simplify your dating life, and sometimes it did, but too often it was complicated, involved tricky planning, and ultimately a lot of flaking too.
With Tonight, we are working with, not against, the rising social culture of “organized spontaneity.” We’re enabling people to seek and quickly find a suitable new friend or potential romantic partner to meet that very evening, with the added ease of having a nice venue already picked out for them. Plans can be made within a few hours of the event, so that it’s spontaneous, though not instant. (An instant meetup dating app would tend more towards hookups and appeal less to relationship seekers).
With so much discussion about the ways that dating apps are changing dating culture and changing the way singles treat one another (and many say not for the better), I have been thinking about the responsibility and privilege we have in contributing to this ecosystem. To that end, we’re designing our new product with an intention not only to help people get together in real life efficiently, but also to encourage good citizenship and meaningful, authentic connections between them.
In about two months we should be ready to beta test Tonight in a single neighborhood market. Following that will be the official launch of Tonight, available throughout the U.S. but with an initial focus in select geographic markets. Eventually, we hope to expand internationally.
What will happen to Whim the app
As of April we have stopped investing in marketing and product development for Whim; it’s in maintenance mode. It’s holding steady at around 3k monthly active users, with the majority of user activity in New York City. There is some revenue, but it’s not significant, nor is it growing. Since our launch in August 2015, we’ve registered over 20,000 users across the U.S., and we’ll do everything we can to re-engage these users and send them over to Tonight once launched.
We’ll go out to raise additional funding as soon as we can prove traction with Tonight.
I returned to Buenos Aires last month to spend in-person time with our software engineers Juan and Hernan. I continue to be inspired by their creativity, technical talent, and dedication to our mission. It was a great trip - we energized each other and engaged in forward-looking conversations as a group that are harder to come by over our usual video chats. Here’s a photo of us along with their partners at a team dinner.
It’s also been fantastic to work on the new app with the help of Bay Area designer Donald Johns (head of app design at Ever). He’s brilliant at what he does, and his contributions are going to be invaluable to our success.
I continue to enjoy meaningful support from advisors at 500 Startups, the team at Republic, Parker Thompson, Prerna Gupta, and Nisan Gabbay - as well as fellow founders in the relationships/dating space: Ellen Huerta (founder of Mend), Marcie Rogo (co-founder of Stitch), Stephanie Volftsun (founder of Bubby), and Josh Benjamin (founder of Lifechime).
How You Can Help
$$$. Additional funding would enable us to hire more engineers, accelerate development, and amplify our PR & marketing power. We already have two engineers we’d love to hire and who would love to work with us (one in Buenos Aires and one in SF), but don’t have the funds to hire them. If you know any people or institutions who are interested in getting in on the ever-growing $2.5 billion dating space, let me know.
Influencers. Are you connected to a celebrity or influencer who would align well with our new brand and be an advocate for it in exchange for a piece of the company? Let me know. Aziz Ansari is the dream celebrity partner because of his writing and performance about modern romance.
Engage. Hit the Comment button and share an idea you think would be helpful!