Business

Jul. 30, 2014 11:12 am

Baltimore’s Heyy app turns online dating on its head

The offline-first Heyy thinks chemistry is better IRL. It's kind of like Craigslist’s Missed Connections, but for your iPhone.

Heyy app screenshots.

(Image via iTunes)

Most dating apps provide a menu of singles. The user scrolls through, decides which pictures and profiles might be a match. If two people both select each other, they can message. Maybe an in-person date will take place as a result.

Heyy, Baltimore’s homegrown dating app, flips this premise on its head.

Cofounder Mark Manzo says Heyy is “offline first, online second.”

“We’re really focus on delivering an app that helps people find a date and find people offline, rather than just go to an online database and sifting through profiles,” he said.

So, if two people meet at a park or a bar but neither snags the other’s phone number, one of the two can post a “heyy” to the app and try to reconnect. Users can get push notifications for “heyys” that fit a desired description, or they can search by location.

It’s the same concept that’s been at play on Craigslist’s Missed Connections for years, only in a mobile-friendly format.

The first version of the app was released earlier this summer on iOS. Now the focus is on improving the user experience for Heyy based on feedback from early adopters. The founders are pursuing a round of angel funding.

Manzo also just began a Kickstarter campaign to build an Android version. Even though he suspects most users will be on iPhones, the hope is to expand the reach.

“Every day we are getting more and more users,” he said. “We’re not seeing tremendous numbers but, definitely, little by little, we’re starting to be impressed by what people are saying and how they’re finding.”

The target user for Heyy skews young. Manzo says 18- to 25-year-olds would be the first target and the next age group up, age 25 to 34, would be second.

“That’s not to say it won’t work for everybody and anybody,” he said. “You can use it for dating, for business. It’s a really versatile platform.”

With a team of just four, and a growing group of interns, Heyy can pivot more easily than larger dating products and add features steadily. The goal at this point, Manzo says, is for a full scale product launch around Valentine’s Day 2015.

Manzo, for more than a year, had pondered creating a dating app. Single since college, he says he’s familiar with the existing dating apps and wanted to reimagine a solution. Previously, he developed Clinkee, a social networking app to help people exchange contact information at bars and parties.

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“This is the next iteration of that,” he says.

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Dena Levitz

Dena Levitz is a freelance writer, editor and digital thinker with a master's in media entrepreneurship from American University. A Technical.ly contributor, Levitz has freelanced for publications like the Washington Post and City Lab, been a news writer for the Washington Examiner and the Augusta Chronicle and worked as a weekend White House stringer for Bloomberg News. In her spare time she enjoys drinking a hoppy beer, chomping on a cheeseburger or quoting from one of the Rocky movies.

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