Name: Faisal Zaman
Position & Company: Founder, PlayNConnect
Can you give a brief description of your app and how it works?
PlayNConnect is a dating platform currently on iOS. Users create an account with Facebook or email, log in and view other users they may want to connect with. Swiping right on a user likes them, and swiping left skips them. If another user you have swiped right on has also swiped right on you, then you have a match.
This is where we stand out and shine. Before you can chat with them, you have to complete a quick game that helps breaks the ice and transitions both users into an organic conversation, avoiding the initial awkward exchange.
Why did you decide to create the app?
The industry is saturated with dating apps and platforms that simply haven’t done anything innovative. Users are presented with the same mechanics with new gimmicks to make them feel like they’re going to make a meaningful connection. We wanted to really allow people to connect in a meaningful way and cut through the noise.
When did you launch the app, and how did the launch go?
We launched in the last week of November. However, it was more of a soft launch. We’re only marketing in Atlanta for two reasons. Atlanta is our home, and we want to refine the app before going national and global. We’re being very picky about making the experience as enjoyable and fruitful as possible, and are relying on our home town to make the app great, and to feel a sense of pride as our success grows.
What are the main advantages of giving singles the opportunity to interact through games?
Games are disarming. If executed properly, they are fantastic icebreakers. They’re designed to get you smiling. Our belief is that if you can get someone to smile, it’s a lot easier to have a conversation.
Do you think we will see a growing number of dating brands introducing gaming elements to their products over the next year? In your view, is this the next big trend in online dating, and why?
There is a lot of data that shows that people have made meaningful connections with other people in a gaming environment. While there is a huge variety in the type of games and platforms that exist, it is undeniable that people are finding love in those environments. It’s only natural that dating and gaming merge and evolve.
The concept of gamified dating apps got huge exposure last year when Vana Koutsomitis, a finalist on The Apprentice, pitched her gamified app in the show’s final. Did you see this? What did you think of the app, and the exposure and potential interest it brings to the concept?
I do remember reading about it. There are a few apps that have tried to marry the idea of dating and gaming. While the idea is great, how it will be executed will determine if an idea will become successful.
Do you think gaming dating apps like PlayNConnect can rival the biggest dating apps like Tinder and Happn in the future?
Absolutely. Tinder and Happn are barebones matching apps. We believe that people want a little more than simply being matched with someone. You want to feel something when you connect with someone, and potentially grow that feeling into something substantial. That is what we are offering.
Has the rise of mobile dating over the past few years helped to create a market that gamified dating apps can flourish in?
Yes and no. Dating apps are a dime a dozen now. You have to truly do something unique, that people also like, to stand out.
What is the general demographic make-up of your users? Do you think that gamified dating apps are more relevant for a younger audience?
Not at all. Data shows that gamers who are women, for the first time, are just as plentiful as men. Gaming is no longer the realm of the nerdy boys. Everyone loves games. If you don’t believe me, check out Grandma Shirley!
What has user feedback been like so far?
Users love the concept. They like that its not a hookup app and that you actually have something
to go on other than just a profile picture. The games make them laugh and have fun.
How do you plan to grow the app?
Once all tweaks are made to our, and our users’, satisfaction, we’ll begin aggressive digital marketing, media relations, and public relations. It’s all about online presence. When someone searches for “good dating apps”, our goal is to be mentioned in the first page. Repeatedly.
How do you monetise PlayNConnect?
We have a strong suite of features that will be available as a subscription that will enhance the user experience that we will test with focus groups once we have a rock solid user base.
What are your plans for the app over the next year?
Rapid user acquisition, and a possible national rollout with a strong marketing and PR campaign.
Find out more about PlayNConnect here.