Lebanese dating app Wango wants to be 'Tinder for gentlemen', designed for women
The app resorts to a sort of “public shaming” to keep its male users in line. (Wango)
In a society notorious for its complex rules of dating, newly launched mobile application Wan’Go attempts to set itself apart, appealing to serious heterosexual daters in Lebanon and the world.
“Wan’Go is a women-friendly app with a gentleman’s touch,” professed Julian Smida, the Franco-Lebanese CEO of Wan’Go. “We wanted to create an alternative to Tinder that actually guarantees you a date with a man that is interested in more than a one-night stand.”
Though co-founded by Smida, Wan’Go is equally a creation of Lauren Wallet, a lifestyle blogger and entrepreneur based in Cape Town, South Africa.
With “women’s interests” at the foreground of its mission, Wan’Go seeks to bring back traditional dating values in today’s “dating apocalypse.” Its values are tailored for an older crowd, uninterested in the messy jungle inspired by Tinder.
“We’re definitely not getting anyone from 18 to early 20s. Our users are made up of those who have already had fun in their university years, and want to look for a real relationship,” Smida told The Daily Star.
Reintroducing the concept of being a “gentleman,” Wan’Go attempts to create an environment of “gentlemanly” respect and safety.
“Who doesn’t want to be a gentleman, right?” Smida asked while explaining how the app fulfills its mission. “By default [male users] have a gentleman badge, but you have to behave like a gentlemen to keep it. If there’s something a man does that is deemed disrespectful, the woman can report him. After three reports, he loses the badge.”
In the words of Smida, the app resorts to a sort of “public shaming” to keep its male users in line.
“If you’re the only guy without a badge on the app, it’s not going to look good for you,” Smida laughed. “On our app, men have to abide by a certain conduct to be successful. These are the type of users we’re looking for anyways.”
While other dating apps give users the freedom to converse, and arrange dates how they please, Wan’Go plays a heavy hand, guiding interactions, ensuring that each couple has chemistry before they meet.
The app foregoes traditional “matching” and “unmatching” mechanisms, offering conversational games and topics. Once a pair successfully completes Wan’Go’s steps, the app arranges a meetup.
“Once you unlock the meetup feature, we suggest a mutually approved location, time and day,” Smida demonstrated with his phone.
Here is where the app generates its earnings. While applications like Tinder and OkCupid rely on their quantity of users to produce revenue with premium features, and “in-app” purchases, Wan’Go generates funding through its advertisements of restaurants, bars and coffee shops.
The initial source of funding included friends and family. It later secured investments from Speed@BDD – a Beirut based startup accelerator financing top-tier companies across the Middle East. The app launched in summer 2016, attracting a user base of 1,500.
“It’s not good to have loyal customers for us. We want you to be here, and leave as soon as possible. That defines our success,” Smida divulged. Yet it also poses several hurdles in terms of growth.
“What’s the biggest challenge? Getting users to invite others,” Smida confessed, but remained confident in the application’s tactics. “Other apps actually want users to stay, because that’s how they make their money. That isn’t our model. If you’re satisfied with our app, we believe that you will bring others into the loop, because it actually works.”
After advertising the application at Banque du Liban Accelerate 2016, Wan’Go was able to generate significant attention, upping its user base by 1,000 over a week and a half. Wan’Go ranked No. 2 in the lifestyle category of the app store in Lebanon Sunday.
“Things have been crazy since [Sunday], we were able to grow this fast with close to a zero budget marketing [plan]” Smida said.
By Victoria Yan