Not a fan of Trump? Can’t stand country music? Think selfie culture is the worst? Wouldn’t go camping if someone paid you? Bonding over the things you hate can be more powerful than bonding over what you like, studies have shown.
Explains Hater founder and CEO Brendan Alper, the idea for the app came up around a year and a half ago, but he hadn’t envisioned it as being a real product at the time.
Instead, Alper, a former Goldman Sachs employee, had left the banking biz to pursue his passion in writing comedy. Hater was originally going to be a part of an online comedy sketch he was planning to publish. But the more he talked about it, the more it seemed like the app might actually have real appeal, he says.
“It was just in the idea phase. At first I told some people about it – mostly people I was writing comedy with,” says Alper. Everyone had the same reaction: “‘That makes so much sense. It’s really funny, but why doesn’t that exist?’,” he explains. “It really got my gears turning.”
“I had always wanted to start my own company…It was kind of this viral snapsext idea, but it needed a product that could back it up,” Alper adds.
While Hater’s focus is on dislikes, it’s not the only dating app trying to suss out more information about its users’ personalities as a means of differentiating itself from the hot-or-not, photo-driven apps like Tinder and Bumble.
OK Cupid, for example, has regularly featured QA’s for its users, which are used for matching purposes. And these will be given more prominence in the app’s redesign. Meanwhile, Hinge recently pivoted to better emphasize people’s stories by requiring its users answer questions about their favorite things, past experiences and other interests.
Hater, on the other hand, kicks off not by showcasing a stream of people’s photos, but rather a series of topics to weigh in on. There are now around 3,000 topics available in the app, with more added on a continual basis.
Some of the topics are truly personality-defining, like whether you’re a fan of a particular singer or activity. But others still seem a little off.
Like, how do you answer if you hate HBO’s “Girls?” Sure, we generally hate it now, but the first season was not as terrible, right? And does hating that you have to pay for extra guacamole make you sound cheap? Is there really not a single reality TV show that you enjoy (after all, doesn’t this category include cooking, home makeover and travel shows, too, not just real housewives and Kardashians?) And who in their right mind would say they like airplane seats? (Yes, these all real questions on today’s Hater.)
In other words, some of the items are too broad, while others would require more nuanced responses. That means the app may fail to find that certain someone who passionately hates on the same niche topics you do. These are things that could be addressed in time, though. If the app allowed users to create their own topics, or if it let you drill down into topics by category, you e-stuff soul mate.
Alper says these sorts of changes are on the roadmap, too. While the app will moderate user-submitted items for inappropriate content or abuse, if it goes that route, he does see a way for the app to leverage ideas from the community in the future.
“We can offer an experience that’s more social and less about meeting strangers online, that would be able to grow more organically,” he says. “With dating apps, everyone’s there for the same reason… it creates an unbelievable amount of pressure. In the real world, it doesn’t work like that… we want to be a place where everyone can interact, not just single people,” Alper notes of the transition to social, planned for around 4 to 6 months out.
But today, the app is focused on finding matches. You can jump into a section to swipe on people’s photos, with the added benefit of seeing their hates with an extra tap. You also can message with your matches, or even play a Cards Against Humanity-type game with them. And you can edit your profile, which consists of Facebook-pulled photos and other basic information like your age and match preferences. (Adding a non-Facebook sign-up method is also on the to-do list.)
Thanks in part to its viral buzz, Hater has had a surprising number of sign-ups since its launch into beta in December. The app now has 310,000 users, and is averaging 30,000+ daily active users, with 1-day retention rates of 25-30 percent. Of course, it’s hard to tell what the app will look like when the hype wears off.
Alper is aware of this challenge, which is why he’s planning the expansion to social, more Facebook ad tests and a partnership with Cosmo, which will publish stats pulled from the app. Brands are also talking to Hater about future integrations, which could see them being able to place their own items into the app’s list, then analyze the results of who likes and hates those topics.
Hater will also use push notifications to pull in lapsed users by giving them the chance to weigh in on more timely questions. (It tested this in NY and LA following the Oscars, for instance.)
Given its quick climb – the app is also now being featured by Apple on the App Store – Hater is attracting inbound interest from investors. The team is taking meetings with VCs and angels outside of its home base of Brooklyn, New York, as well as with locals.
For now, however, Hater has a full-time staff of four, including Berlin-based CTO Stefan Wirth, and is available only on iOS.
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