Globally online dating is being touted as the next revolution. Analysts state that the $2.1 billion market is going to accelerate over the next five years. Looking at the success of Tinder dating app during the recent FIFA football world cup, one can only think how huge is the market.
India which is set to become the youngest country in 2020 already has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. If that wasn’t a big reason for you to believe that the dating market is a gold mine in the country, then India is already the fastest growing smartphone country in Asia.
With mobile already being the primary device for entertainment and socializing needs, Indian startups have started taking the market seriously. Over the past few weeks we have reviewed some interesting dating apps like TrulyMadly and Thrill.
U2opia Mobile - the company known for bringing the joy of social networking to feature phones and to places where internet can’t penetrate - recently launched Woo - a dating app on Android and iOS. According to the company, Woo is targeting educated, young, single professionals between the ages of 25-35 years old, for this product.
U2opia has been known so far for its product Fonetwish which allows users to access Facebook on basic phones without any data plans. Last year in a conversation with LI, Sumesh Menon, CEO and Co-founder of U2opia Mobile had discussed extensively about the startup journey, the Twitter tie-up, and the limitations with USSD.
When I first read about Woo, I was taken aback a bit since U2opia was powering the mobile app. Definitely U2opia knows the mobile space but why jump into the dating market, what is the point?
“Our mission as a company, is not wedded to technology. Our mission is about following the users and addressing need gaps where we see them, irrespective of the technology platform. Our expertise on mobile gives us the necessary skills to provide creative and universal lifestyle solutions.
So, just as Fonetwish plugged the gap of connectivity and reach for sub-data users, Woo is our response to a rising social need we see among young users to meet new people with security and sophistication,” answered Sumesh over an email conversation.
Sumesh further stated that in India, the minute you get slightly commitment minded, you fall into the default bucket of the matrimonial dance – whether arranged by family or arranged online. “The fact is, urban singles do not necessarily subscribe to the idea of measuring compatibility based on complexion and caste and are, instead looking for relationships that are based on mutual companionship and laughter, rather than traditional societal expectations.”
These revelations have led to the birth of the concept of the hyper local mobile app, Woo. “Woo is an app that provides urban singles the opportunity to interact with similar like-minded singles, who share their interests and lifestyles, on their own terms, without the pressure,” said Sumesh. Woo is already available in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Woo Android app review
With the help of Woo’s tech teams, the app was made available for a married man located in Pune (for the review). The app which works with a Facebook login is smart enough to find out whether the user is single or married. If you think it is easy to dodge then you might want to rethink, the app has built multiple layers of filters both automated as well as manual; it fully ensures that people cannot enter under false pretenses. “Even if you have changed your marital status in Facebook, there is a high probability that the profile will be curated out manually.”
The below screen grab gives you a quick look of the home page. For security reasons we have used the screen grabs provided by Woo.
As you log into Woo, it throws you a bunch of profiles to drool over. These are not random profiles from your area but the ones pulled out by the app with intelligence gathered from your Facebook data to find profiles similar to you in terms of lifestyle and interests.
With a downward swipe, you can show love or swipe up if you are not. Tap on the profile to know more about the user. You can see some more snaps if the user has uploaded along with further details such as education and likes. Interestingly, the app tells you if both of you have a common friend which might help brew a friendship. Woo says that having mutual friends is an added trust builder and gives users greater confidence in swiping down and liking someone on Woo.
Moving ahead if the feeling is mutual for both users, then you can make the move with the help of messaging provided by the app. Woo makes messaging interesting with stickers, a much required feature to lighten up the conversations. The below screen grab gives you a quick look of the user profile and taking it forward to messaging.
Tap on the top right hand corner of the app, you can find the list of notifications, extreme left you would find the category icon which lists quick go to features like Discover, Messages, My Matches, Settings and Purchase History.
Click on settings and you can define the age bracket of the profiles that would help the app to pull up profiles. Tap on your picture in the category tab and that pulls your personal profile. A complete profile pulls up better matches, so make sure you fill it. Features like Voice Intro and LinkedIn verification adds genuineness in the online world. Other features like Messages is basically your in-box and My Matches is the list of matches that have shown mutual consent.
Security and abuse
Woo also takes care of security and abuse. Sumesh shared that between men and women, women are typically more cautious about security and privacy and Woo has been specifically designed, keeping these very concerns in mind. “We have a stringent entry screening process wherein every user is screened before being allowed on Woo. This keeps non-serious thrill-seekers out and admits only legitimate folk who are seriously looking to meet someone.”
Additionally, Woo does not divulge last names of users as an added security layer. Users, if matched, can continue to chat on Woo for as long as they like, until they are comfortable exchanging numbers themselves. “But no amount of technology in the world can supersede the user’s own judgment and discretion on whether or not they want to interact with someone, in real life or otherwise. That choice is the user’s prerogative. Our promise is to help people find potential matches and then they lead the conversation from there,” said Sumesh.
With all these interesting features, Woo is not for free. Yes, you have read it correct, the app is only free for the first thirty days. Thereafter if you want to enjoy dating on the app then you will have to buy passes to access the app. The monthly minimum pass is for Rs 250/-. While the unlimited lifetime pass is only Rs 1500/-, the problem comes with the app being new and hence there would be a lag in pulling up matched profiles, which might lead to user frustration.
However, when asked on why Woo is making people pay for an app that is yet to have a decent traction, Sumesh informed that the app right now is in a free trial mode and hence there is no charge for longer term access. “We have a clear path to monetisation and some of the ideas are already baked into the product. Having said that, at this early stage, we are concentrating more on expanding our user base and iterating based on user feedback.”
Should Woo be the answer for your dating needs?
Hell yes! Even though the app is new and gaining pace with time, one should give it a try, Woo wouldn’t disappoint you. The app is simple to understand and has the required features one needs for dating. I have used the app for close to a week now and found no glitches so far. The user experience and execution of features is good and does the job in a neat manner.
The curation of profiles wouldn’t disappoint users and the app makes sure that it serves you a set of 5-6 profiles at a time. Besides the enabled security features, introduction of mutual friends, messaging with stickers, easy account creation will get users attached to Woo. Moreover, selecting profiles only from your city makes more sense, if 2 users form a match and like each other, they can decide to meet up in the real world at any time.
However, Woo isn’t the only one in the Indian dating market and with time we will see more players. Thrill, the app recently got re-booted while simplifying the entire operation (LI review). While it was good to see that the founders of the Thrill app decided to shred the extra weight such as interests from the app and provided a minimalist look, making it easy to enjoy the core purpose, security is still a concern with the app.
TrulyMadly, another dating app (LI review) has focused on building a great app and given security utmost importance. However, the app requires too much data and it is mix of a dating and matrimonial app. Not sure if dating and matchmaking can go hand in hand even if it is targeted for Indian audiences.
On being asked about the growing competition, Sumesh added, “Competition in a young category fuels the growth of the category, so that’s always a good thing. Having said that, Woo is a very nuanced and sophisticated proposition, based on over a year of research in cities around India.”
Does the mobile app Woo solve your dating problems? Do give it a try and let us know how do you find the experience.