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It had been a month since my work at Aggregate Terminal had come to a halt. I was looking to try my hand out at something new and have fun in the process. Lockdown 3.0 was in full swing and things were becoming bleaker by the day. It was then that 2 of my friends and I decided that it was high time that our university got its very own dating app. With that thought in mind, we came up with FlirtAid - Your Very Own Loveguru.

What is FlirtAid?

We knew that we wanted to build a dating app, but had to figure out what was missing in the dating market. What were the burning issues that dissuade people from signing up to dating apps? Hence, to dig deeper, we did a survey in college which saw 303 participants. Here are the results of the survey:

Survey 1 image Survey 2 image

There were 3 major problems which people faced when it came to dating apps:

  1. Females received a number of creepy & lewd messages
  2. Males felt that they didn’t have good enough pictures to add to their profiles
  3. Fake profiles were a problem that plagued both genders equally

We set out to solve all these issues and build a dating app which every student on campus would want to use. FlirtAid - JU’s very own love guru:

The Development

With the basics in place, we started the development of FlirtAid. To develop the app, I on-boarded 2 people from my campus. This is where one of my biggest learnings from the project began. I led the team of developers through the whole process of development. The first step of building was to chalk-out a product development timeline. This included the feature, its user interface design, approximate timeline for the front-end development and a schedule for the backend development. The whole development process took about 1.5 months. There were multiple iterations of the user interface design, hours of bug testing and hundreds of lines of code written, and we finally ended up with an app that we could be proud of to ship to the world.

The development came with its own set of challenges:

  • One of our developers decided to leave the project mid-way. After an intense and long discussion I managed to get him on-board again.
  • FlirtAid ran out of free storage while storing user images on Day 1 due to a surge in traffic. We dug through the internet and had to eventually set up an image compression into the system.
Development Image

Iterations of the product from the initial version to the final version

It's a Match!

Experts believe that the marketing of a product should start before its development begins and FlirtAid was a testament to it. To implement this in real-time, we created 3 primary marketing channels:

We decided to focus equally on all 3 initially and then eventually double down on the medium that was showing most promise. Through the course of 4 months we made multiple social media posts, we put up a podcast, and spent hours spreading the word on campus.

Marketing efforts

Our marketing efforts

Our podcast was called “FlirtAid Originals”. The primary decision to make with podcasts is to decide its format. FlirtAid Originals was meant to educate the public on how to approach people of the opposite gender. We wanted to sensitise our audience to problems and expectations of the opposite gender, so that they can become better human beings and in-turn develop more meaningful relationships. After all, as soon as one moves away from the concepts of toxic masculinity and develops more empathy, they start finding love around them more easily. Check-out the first episode of FlirtAid Originals here:

For our on-ground marketing efforts, we decided to go guerilla. We offered free photoshoots for people and if they were interested, we would create their dating profile for them on-spot. There were 2 major reasons for this strategy:

The Impact

FlirtAid ran for 3 months and it garnered a lot of love and attention from our peers. It saw a total user count of 721 and an average daily usage of 40+ in 1.5 months of use. There were 207 registered users on the platform and it boasted 3 matches made.

Impact quantified

FlirtAid's Impact across various channels

Lessons & Takeaways

There were a number of learnings I carried forward from Aggregate Terminal. Some of the key ones were:

FlirtAid made me challenge those learnings and left me with some new ones.

  1. Leading a team: There are subtle differences in the way tech teams are managed compared to other verticals. Developers value their creative freedom over everything else, but it is very important to keep them aligned to the product’s vision and mission. This is where the concept of maintaining a common consensus was challenged. Do you get a veto when it comes to these decisions or do you concede to the demands of your team? The key to being a good leader is to do whichever the situation demands. One of the key issues with leading is that there are no set rules. You have to learn by doing and build a knack for it.
  2. Reaching out and talking to users: While aggregate terminal was an incredible product, we had never reached out to our users. You can build the greatest product ever and it will still be worthless if people who need it can’t access it. With FlirtAid, I followed the golden rules of entrepreneurship by reaching out to my users, taking feedback and implementing it with pace.
  3. Resourcefulness: Shipping a full-fledged app to the market requires more than just coding skills. You need to host your app on the internet, store user data and make sure that all of it is well-protected. These are services that suck out money from companies. Building, maintaining and scaling an app which was used by 100s of people on a daily basis without spending a penny was challenging.

Even though FlirtAid was a huge success on-campus, it didn’t have the potential to become something bigger. There are more than 1500 dating apps across the world as of 2022, there is no scope for another in the market. FlirtAid was a fun project which acted as a medium for people to interact and learn the basics of consensual dating on campus. Once we had achieved our goals to a sizable extent, we signed off from playing cupid.