A profile picture is the strongest weapon in the dating world online. The right profile picture or selfie ensures the most likes and matches on dating apps. But SwoonMe—an app that started in July 2021—is focusing on something else: ‘Avatars’ and audio.
Tanvi Gupta, SwoonMe’s co-founder and former Meta employee, said the aim is to build a platform where users can connect, with ‘Avatars’ being their primary medium of identity. “Social media is heavily indexed on how one looks, not on personality or interest. And this is especially challenging for women and minorities, who end up feeling very judged. SwoonMe is changing this…” she said, adding that while dating in virtual reality was still some time away, dating in augmented reality was possible, and this is what her app hopes to achieve.
Like any other dating app, SwoonMe lets users create a profile. But it relies on an ‘Avatar’ or a cartoon version of the user’s face, based on a real selfie or photo, instead of actually showing a real photo. The app asks for verification when someone generates their ‘Avatar’. The user is then asked to upload and post another photo in a certain pose so that the app can match it with the selfie used to generate the ‘Avatar’. According to Gupta, this is a safety check to verify the user’s identity.
Once the profile is created, the app will guide a user with prompts on how to record an audio introduction, so they can find their match or connect with others. Interestingly, SwoonMe does not let users chat or ‘text message’ each other even once they have matched, which is unlike most other dating apps. Two users must have sent a certain number of ‘audio’ messages before the text chat option opens.
Launched in India in January this year, the app already has 25,000 monthly active users. The app claims to have an engagement time in India of about 20 minutes per day per user, and in the US, it is about 40 minutes.
Gupta is confident that due to India’s younger population, revenue for dating apps such as hers will only grow. This is also where the ‘Avatar’ bit becomes more critical, and Gupta said she has already seen this indication during her tenure at Meta.
This ‘Avatar’ aspect is what SwoonMe also intends to build on. It plans to add ‘Avatar’ based video calling to the platform soon, where the avatar in the video call mimics a user’s facial expressions etc. When asked about safety features, she said it allows users to report a profile, block and ignore users, etc, and also report them.
Launched in January this year, SwoonMe has 25,000 monthly active users
Avatars are the primary medium of identity
Members connect using sound bites and voice notes
App allows to report a profile, block users
Avatar-based video calling on cards