French dating app Happn just raised an $8 million Series A round from Alven Capital and DN Capital, as well as business angels, such as Fabrice Grinda. As a reminder, Happn uses your phone’s location to show you potential matches. Every time you cross someone’s path, this person’s profile will be added to the top of your feed. Then, you can like people and potentially start chatting with them.
Contrary to other dating apps, Happn is based on real-life interaction. It greatly contributes to setting a different mood when you use the app. You know that when someone appears in your feed, it means that you were around this person at some point today.
The more you scroll, the further back in time you go. And when someone catches your attention, you can like him or her. If there is a mutual interest, just like on Tinder, you can start chatting for free. But on Happn, you can also buy credits to start chatting even if there is no match.
I profiled Happn last summer, but a lot has changed since then. In July, the app was only available in Paris, London and Berlin. 40,000 people were opening the app every day. In other words, Happn was a proof of concept that needed to generate actual growth.
Yet, when I talked with Happn founder and CEO Didier Rappaport, I could see the addictive potential of the app. Compared to Tinder, Happn doesn’t play like a game. It isn’t a sort of modern dating jukebox. Instead, the French startup focuses on fixing what’s broken on dating sites.
In Happn, you don’t have to create a profile and list your interests. It works like Tinder: You just connect your Facebook account. This way, there are a lot fewer fake profiles, as well. On traditional dating sites, you get suggestions based on your shared interests. Instead, Happn relies on your daily path.
The main challenge when you develop a free app like Happn is to make people open the app again. If you usually wander in a particular neighborhood, chances are that another person who likes this coffee shop, this park and that bar might get along with you.
Because of this serendipity aspect, users are eager to check the app every day to see who they “met” today — it’s an incredibly powerful retention mechanism. Serendipity is more than a gimmicky feature, and this is key to Happn’s potential success.
Happn is now available in Paris, London, Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid and New York. The team of 25 is now working on more city launches – Chicago, Los Angeles and Sydney are next on the list. Every month, Happn will become available in three new cities.
While the company boasts about having a million downloads, there is an even more impressive number. Out of its user base of 1 million people, 200,000 people use Happn every day. It’s a huge improvement compared to this summer and an impressive achievement considering that the app was launched in March 2014. You don’t see a dating app with this trajectory every day.