PromiseUp, a new iOS app that sees its full launch today, has a simple but rather lofty mission: To make people keep their promises, and ultimately, make the world a better place. It hopes to achieve this with a mixture of social and gamification in which users earn (or lose) virtual currency depending on whether or not they keep the promises they make to one another.
The app starts with the presumption that by making us more accountable for the things we say we’ll do, including when, we’re far more likely to follow through on those intentions. It does this by making each promise — to a friend, family member, or even to yourself — easily trackable, and by rewarding users for the tasks they complete.
As a new user you’re given 1,000 UP dollars (PromiseUP’s virtual currency) which you use to wager against the promises you make. Each time you make a promise to another user, or to yourself, you state what it is you intend to do and when the promise will be completed. Then you attach an amount you’re willing to wager — in UP dollars — which you win if you fulfil the promise on time or lose if you renege.
In PromiseUP’s beta testing, the range of promises made include a son promising to call his mother once a day for a month, a wannabe athlete promising themselves that they’ll run 3 miles a day every day for a week, and a user promising to eat lunch using only their feet. In these examples alone it’s easy to see how the app potentially competes with affirmation-based health and fitness apps that let you publicly record and track your goals, or a goal setting app like 43things. At the more frivolous end of the spectrum, it also reminds me of something like Klash, where you challenge and dare your friends to do things just for the fun of it.
Of course, there’s little point in winning UP dollars if they have no value. Aside from sheer point scoring, the virtual currency can be traded in for real prizes via the app’s UP-Shop. In addition, when users run out of UP dollars because of all those broken (or kept) promises, they can purchase more using real money — the basis of the Russian startup’s business model.
And as opportunistic as that sounds, it was enough to get PromiseUP’s backers excited. The company raised a
$210,000 $150,000 seed round from TDVF Investments in May 2012.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with the video below. In it you’ll see founder Ivan Kochetov pitch PromiseUP at TechCrunch Moscow last December where he promised the audience that the company would raise an additional $5 million by 20th April 2013. Unless he knows something we don’t know, that’s at least one promise that has yet to be kept. Maybe there is a need for an app like promiseUP after all.