Name: Dori Yona
Position and company: CMO & co-founder of Hashsnap
Period of time in the role: 8 months
Twitter ID: @doriyona
Tell us about Hashsnap.
Hashsnap is revolutionising the world of online dating by creating a social network for meeting new people in a less superficial way, through profiles that show off personality in addition to appearance. We have solved some of the most difficult problems in the world of online dating through our unique concept of daily themes and live & authentic snaps.
Where did the idea come from, and how long have you been working on the app?
Being long-time online daters ourselves, we’ve learned that having the right photos is far more effective than anything written. Reading and writing profiles is too much effort compared to a quick scan of someone’s photos.
In a sense, dating applications have been training their users to make shallow judgments of others based on photos alone. So the problem is that photos uploaded to today’s dating applications aren’t telling the full story behind the person. Another major issue is that on the day we set up our profile it remains static, irrelevant and outdated despite the fact that our lives are, in fact, dynamic.
We have been working on the app for the past 8 months.
How do people connect on Hashsnap?
Every 24 hours, the app chooses a new daily theme that applies to all users, so that they take live snaps of themselves with the daily theme (Hashsnaps). You can only take live photos through the app’s camera, and the daily theme is embedded into the photo for authentication. When you enter the app, you scroll through a feed of people around you (based on the filter preferences you chose) that uploaded a picture with the daily theme.
If someone catches your attention, you can click on them and see their profile. Their profile is made up of all the past pictures they uploaded with the daily themes. This gives you a true sense of the person’s personality, helping to look beyond surface appearances. You can anonymously like someone, and if they like you back there is a connection. You can then chat and stay up to date through daily snaps.
Do you classify yourself as a dating app?
At this point yes. We have different features to help anyone search for what they are looking for. But we have crazy plans for the future.
Which companies did you take inspiration from?
Our inspiration comes from some of the hot apps that are on the market right now for example: Snapchat, Instagram, Air and others. We spent a lot of time analysing the pros and cons of each one.
Why do you think this is such a good way of letting people express themselves? What current problems in online dating does it solve?
Because we give users legitimacy. I would never, for example, upload a picture of me sweating after a jog on the beach to a dating app. If I write in my profile that I love fitness, chances are people won’t believe me. But if the daily “Hashsnap” is “FreshAir”, then it is legitimate to upload a pic of me doing so, and show that I love running.
Another major problem in online dating today is that photos are not up to date. What I meet when I come to the date is usually nothing close to the photo I see online. Since snaps can only be taken live through the app’s camera, all the pictures are authentic and up to date. No surprises!
Who are you targeting with the app?
At first we are launching in the US and Israel. We are targeting all mobile users between the ages 18-40 looking to meet someone new. We are looking for partnerships and community managers in Asia and Europe as well. Our vision is to be global.
Do you have other ways of connecting users beyond the daily themes? Do you have any surprises for launch?
We have a surprise feature for the launch and some more features we are already working on for the future versions.
What initial reaction have you had? How was it winning the Google Campus YourStartApp award?
We are getting very positive reactions and feedback on our product. People believe that there is a real need for a product like this. We are receiving the strongest reactions from women, who are really seeking a platform like this.
Winning at Google Campus was very impressive and a great accomplishment for us as a team, but it was only a small step on our long journey.
What privacy features have you put in place?
All the features and settings that you would expect from an app in this category are implemented in our product. Our users’ privacy is first and foremost the most important to us.
Have you thought about a monetisation strategy?
Yes we have significant monetisation strategies in mind, but it is too early to talk about the correct strategy for the company. We will do our best to give our users the best experience possible for free.
How big is your team? How did you all come together?
We are three co-founders: Oded, Ilan & I. Oded and I have known each other for over 8 years. We met while trying out for the Naval Academy Course in the Israeli Navy. Out of thousands of people trying out, only 30 actually finished the program after 2.5 years. We were together in the same group of cadets trying out and made it all the way to the finish line together.
Since then we were Captains of battle ships together in the navy and commanded platoons of ships. We met Ilan six months ago in Israel, when he decided to join TLValley and be part of a promising startup. Since then we have been together day and night, and thankfully, have a great dynamic.
What is your background in?
My background is in business, management and political science. Both in my previous naval history and working in the Silicon Valley, I was able to prove my high execution skills with a very unique approach to people.
Oded’s expertise is in leadership. He has an impressive track record behind him of accomplishments in the navy, while leading his followers to success.
Ilan is a genius French wizard programmer. He has a Masters in Computer Sciences, and has been in the industry for over 13 years. He managed teams of programmers in the past, and this is his second startup already.
What is your strategy for launch? Why did you choose the university focus?
We are launching in four universities in the US, so we are working with local community managers at the universities in order to grow organically through users that are engaged and love our product.
Why did you choose the university focus?
Universities are a great place to launch apps that are location-based since they are an audience that has been very active in online dating in recent years. These young users are open to new ideas and seek self-expression.
Why should people be excited about Hashsnap?
Hashsnap is a game changer. It solves the most difficult problems in the field of online dating, while giving its users an engaging, fun and unique mutual experience.
Visit Hashsnap here.