Earlier this month, a question was stenciled onto pavements across Berlin: Who secretly fancies you? Berlin’s newest dating app mbrace is offering the capital’s single community the answer with just a few swipes. WebMagazin ask co-founder Jan Tillmann about the new hit app.
Webmagazin: Tell us a little bit about mbrace, how does the app work?
Jan: mbrace is a social discovery network to discover people and events. We use social data to build a profile and an individual graph around every user and then recommend relevant people or events based on the users location, time and context. We run our apps on Android and iOS as well as on the web at www.getmbrace.com. The users log in via Facebook and, in a bid to keep fake profiles or creeps out, existing mbrace users decide who gets access to the community.
Once accepted, users can swipe through user profiles, which include shared interests, photos and mutual friends. When they find a person they’re interested in, they like him or her – the like is anonymous, a match only happens if the other person likes back. Matched users can then start chatting within the app.
What meal would you cook for me?
Jan: In addition, we introduced the challenge feature – besides liking someone, you can also perform a small challenge the other person has chosen. For example, “What meal would you cook for me?“ If the other person likes and accepts the challenge, we open a chat inside the app. Users can also set their own fun challenges to learn more about other members. Last week someone told me they would like to make a pineapple curry for me. Obviously, I accepted the offer.
Webmagazin: What would you say makes mbrace special? How do you stand out in the Berlin startup scene?
Jan: We’re focused on developing our product to make it fun, safe and simple for users to discover relevant people and events in their city, area and social circle. By relevant we mean that every recommendation is individually tailored to the user’s current location, time of the day/week and intention. This is especially important when it come to event discovery and nightlife.
Webmagazin: What stage of development are you in at the moment? How are you being funded?
Jan: We founded mbrace in the summer of 2013, launched the first app versions in October and closed a seven-figure funding round from European VC’s Paua Ventures, IBB, Astutia and multiple business angels this January.
We’ll use the fresh capital to improve user experience, add new features to the products, build up our team and launch the app in new cities.
Webmagazin: What’s the financial concept behind mbrace and how do you plan on making money?
Jan: We plan to monetise later this year, currently we’re focusing on improving our product and growing our user base. Eventually, several distinguished user segments will emerge within the app that will open up a number of monetisation solutions for us.
Webmagazin: How you came up with the idea for mbrace?
Jan: The idea to start an innovative and data driven social discovery network came last year within our founder team with Ruben Haas and Lukas Krauter. We already saw a huge potential in the market but could not find a superior product that really uses the strength of the mobile platform (real time, location) and also adds the very personal level for each individual user (context).
Webmagazin: And what were you doing until now?
Jan: Until now I’ve worked at the HitFox Group where I was amongst the first employees and helped to build a couple of their portfolio companies for mobile marketing, most as the Head of Business Development for AppLift in San Francisco. At HitFox I also met Ruben and Lukas, where we already worked together very successfully for more than two years.
Webmagazin: And finally, why Berlin?
Jan: Why not Berlin? It’s a leading spot in Europe for young, innovative and mobile startups. There’s always great talent around including many multi-lingual and international young people, which is not only great for recruiting, but also to launch a new and innovative product.
Berlin has an excellent and growing infrastructure of VCs and other startups to fuel the ecosystem. Also, our personal network to investors, mobile experts, top notch developers, media companies and great talent is the strongest here
…and who can forget the parties?
mbrace is available for free download on iTunes and Android.