There’s a growing market for mobile apps designed to help couples stay closer. The phenomenon first came to my attention with the launch of Pair at Y Combinator’s most recent demo day. But since then, I’ve seen a whole bunch of new apps popping up, all seeking to offer up a tight little social network for two. The latest such app to launch is Avocado, which was created by a couple of former Googlers looking for a way to get closer and better organize their life together.
Avocado, available on the iPhone and Android mobile devices for $1.99, was created by ex-Google employees Chris Wetherell and Jenna Bilotta, who first met while working on Google Reader during their 20 percent time at the search giant. Key to the app is the user experience, which is designed to mimic the way that couples actually interact with each other.
It allows couples to create to-do lists and cross items off, upload pictures to share with one another, and send private messages to each other. It also lets users create and send “quick notes” to one another, over and over again, as well as “quick faces,” which swap out common emoticons for unique facial expressions of each partner.
The app is named as such because avocado trees, Wetherell tells me, only bear fruit when they grow near each other. Avocados also grow in pairs. Oh, also because “avocado” was the name of one of his computers while he worked at Google.
The Avocado team tries to differentiate itself with identity verification and advanced encryption, to ensure that users are who they say they are when they sign up. Couples have to provide a shared password to connect with one another, which is designed to keep impersonators from logging in and pretending to be someone that they’re not.
Not only are Wetherell and Bilotta founders, of course, but they’re also users — and the app has helped them get through the process of a major house renovation. Nowadays they conveniently use the app to create and manage bug reports.
The two tell me that work on the app began before the influx of social apps for couples really took hold, and the two have been a little surprised by how quickly competition has sprung up — particularly since all the major couples apps have emerged over just the last six months or so. But Wetherell said that the move to more intimate applications is only natural, as maturing platforms like Facebook and Twitter lack functionality to provide real private sharing.
To prepare for that competition in the nascent couples app space, the two closed a $1.3 million round of seed funding earlier this year, which included participation from Baseline Ventures, General Catalyst, Lightspeed Ventures, FeedBurner founder Steve Olechowski, and TV director Greg Yaitanes. The team has already hired a couple of developers, but they’re looking to hire a few more.