Kippo, a startup that makes a dating app for gamers was created by an ex-Wall Street trader and Raya engineer whose codes helped predict the success of stocks.
But David Park said Kippo doesn't believe in algorithms. The dating app for gamers lets users sign up to create profiles where they can highlight their favorite games, astrology signs and even has their type of personality. The app matches users, who can then chat and play games with each other. Although it's free, there's a $9.99 premium version.
The idea of an app without algorithms is a bit contradictory, coming from what's known as an algorithmic trader, whose startup uses codes to match people.
"An algorithm implies that, if there's enough information about you, the perfect algorithm will spit out the one perfect person for you," he explained. "And then that's it, you don't have to do anything, you don't have to use a dating app. It just tells you who the person is supposed to be with and game over. Right? We don't think that that's the end game."
Instead, he has an algorithm to fix the algorithm.
"We're going to figure out a way that you can do as little as possible, through our super-advanced algorithm," he said. "And our philosophy is we want to make a fun experience so that you enjoy dating, you enjoy meeting people, and you enjoy this entire experience."
Park, an avid gamer, said he thought gaming and dating were a perfect match. Gamers already loved to interact online. They don't want to play alone. Gaming with someone takes the pressure off of dating. It's a shared experience. In the early days of Kippo, Park met his current girlfriend on the app. Going a year and a half strong, gaming is an activity that both of them enjoy together with playing games, like Blade and Soul and It Takes Two.
"At the end of the day, the best environment to get people to be open to meet each other is one where they're comfortable, and they're having fun," he said. "So the goal for Kippo is to create a fun environment. I think a lot of dating apps have this stiffness to them, where it feels like you're going to a speed dating event, and there's a lot of pressure, and everyone's there for the same reason: dating. But if you say, 'Hey, this is a great place to meet new people.'"
Last year, Kippo raised a $2 million seed funding. It's using the cash to revamp the app. with the emphasis on 'experience'.
We don’t do any of this bs at Kippo. We’re not scummy like that. #datingapp #kippoapp #sus #scam
Early in his career, Park worked on Wall Street as a quantitative analyst also known as an algorithmic trader, using algorithms to predict the performance of tech companies. It was a prelude to his time at Raya, a celebrity dating app.
After he created the company with Cheeyoon Lee, he began talking on TikTok about dating app algorithms and scams, sometimes deriding other apps for "selling" data.
"Three ways that dating apps are scamming you—number one dating apps will create fake profiles of hot girls and guys and they will show it to you first especially new dating apps," he said in one video posted.
(..) Number two dating apps will hold back your matches unless you start paying (..) Number three dating apps are selling your data and it's scary how they know you based off your swiping patterns."
For his part, Park said they are focusing on getting 10 million Kippo users. The app had about 25,000 users per month last year.
But Park thinks gaming is evolving with esports competitions and spaces like Twitch where gamers can livestream their play. Even Alexandra Ocasio Cortez has used as a platform to reach her constituents. Dating is no exception. The pandemic saw record levels of growth in gaming, which is predicted by some to reach more than $200 billion by 2024.
"Everyone is becoming a gamer to some capacity," Park quipped. "If you look at Gen Z, pretty much all of them play some sort of social video game because video games are becoming more of a social thing than just an activity to do."
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It can be easy to focus on the wrong things as an online creator. An obsession with posting content and counting followers can distract you from what counts — whether that's monetizing content or interacting with your fans.
Los Angeles-based Super, a platform that went into public beta last Tuesday, aims to make it easier for creators to build revenue models that fit their unique approach.
Co-founder Fernando Parnes, 26, had originally been working on a startup called Best Being, which was focused on matching individuals to wellness services. In December 2020, Best Being was rethinking its direction. At the time, Parnes was spending a lot of time watching DIY cooking videos on YouTube with his fiancee.
"We noticed a significant improvement in our day-to-day lives," Parnes said about the impact of the videos. "And that really kind of opened my eyes to the power that creators have," he added. "The first moment that I was like, wait, this is something really cool, the creator economy, there's really something there."
After huddling with his team and talking with some potential customers, he started on Super.
Leveraging Creative Freedom Beyond the Subscription Model
Super sees its advantage in allowing creators to own their communication pipeline with fans, moving beyond bombarding them with regular posts and emails and instead, giving them the flexibility to build experiences that fit their vision and approach.
"We allow our creators to create their own revenue models, '' said Parnes. "They've already come up with so much more than we ever could."
So far, those ideas include digital hosting open mic sessions, hosting pay-per-view live streams, as well as offering behind-the-scenes glimpses, courses and merchandise.
Competitors like Patreon place limits on the kind of experiences creators can implement, Parnes contends, forcing them into a subscription model and controlling access to their fans.
"If Patreon was like, 'no more, we are going to take you off the platform', there's very little you can do about that as a Patreon creator," Parnes said. "[On] Super, you own that data. You own the direct connection to your fan. So that's a big difference," said Parnes.
Super takes up to a 10% cut from creators when they make a sale on the platform. The company is also implementing a sliding scale fee that would reduce transaction fees for creators as they bring more fans onto the platform.
"The more fans you sign up, the more revenue you generate, the less you're going to pay in transaction fees," Parnes said.
He said he wants Super to be a stepping stone for creators to succeed financially without sacrificing their creative freedom. Part of that, he thinks, means moving beyond a focus on subscriber counts and on to metrics that matter.
"We actually don't look at subscriber count as a core metric," said Parnes, "Someone could have two million subscribers. What if a million of those are bots and the other 500,000 don't check out their account anymore?"
Instead, he's focused on helping creators build better relationships with their core, "super" fans. The startup doesn't exclude any type of creator on their platform — from chefs to musicians, vloggers, dancers and adult filmmakers.
"There's obviously certain types of content that promote hate, and things like that. Of course, any kind of creator that's promoting that sort of narrative—we wouldn't be comfortable working with," said Parnes.
Parnes said he's passionate about the creator economy. Los Angeles, at the center of the tech and entertainment worlds as well as icons in the creator economy such as Launch House, YES Theory, and Racket, made it an ideal place to launch.
To date, Super's platform hosts creators including ChefPk, Wes Walker, Mmonisy, Aprilynne Alter, Leo Guinan, Paige Finn Doherty, Footystars, and Teddy Zann, among others, and the company said it's in talks with more.Super has raised a total of $110,000 in funding from Behind the Genius Ventures, as well as family and friends. This month, they'll begin raising their first round of pre-seed funding.
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