3 min read

No, This Isn't a Dating App – So What Is it?

It's a dating app, right? 

Wait, wait, wait. Let me see if I’ve got this right.


You mean to tell me that you’re developing an experience that pairs two people in the dark to mitigate their biases...


Ask them deep, vulnerability-inducing questions...

Uh huh.

Questions that make people safe, intimate, borderline erotic...

Well, I don't think I would say ‘erotic’ –

And you’re not trying to make this for dating???

Look, I get it. There is a world where Multitudes would absolutely make sense as a dating app – especially with most (if not all) dating apps currently sucking the life out of so many users.

I get that that’s where the money’s to be made. The need to find a mate is just one that’s not going away any time soon, so the market’s always going to be there.

Plus, I have a theory that the best dating app would never call itself a dating app, what with expectancy effects coming into play. And it would finally restore the dramatic tension of guessing whether someone actually liked you –

All right, okay, fine. You don’t wanna follow where the obvious market opportunity is. So what problem are you ACTUALLY solving?

Great question. And it’s a question that’s come up in several of my one-on-ones with other On Deck Fellows this week. How do I communicate – and even measure – what impact this whole experience is creating? It’s not enough to have this as a good experience that people try once, talk about it with their friends for a few minutes, and move on in their lives. That’s not a model for a business; it’s a model for an art exhibition.

So what’s that sticky problem that I’m addressing that will keep people coming back to using Multitudes?

By creating a foundation of trust, play, and connection for a newly formed community.

Waiiiiiit - what?

Allow me to explain.

A context that I already envision Multitudes being valuable is for communities that are in those formative stages, where folks are all mostly strangers to one another and seeking connection.

Instead of having yet another Zoom call where everyone introduces themselves, regurgitating their bios to hundreds of people in breakout rooms while attempting to absorb theirs (simultaneously making calculations as to whether you’re drawn to a person from the way they curate themselves), what if everyone in the community had 20 Multitudes calls (over the course of a few weeks) in which they co-wrote fantastical stories, role played being mythical creatures, hummed sweet melodies, debated the questionable virtues of time travel, among other things?

My hypothesis: It would measurably increase the openness, kinship, and creativity with which a community engaged with each other.

There is so much risk in those early stages of community development of people just retreating into their echo chambers, taking refuge in what’s familiar and keeping conversations surface level and never truly meaningful. Creating an experience where people can feel psychologically safe to be themselves with one another early on – regardless of who that person is – is essential. And it would pay dividends in the way of creating stronger relationships grounded in real, human-to-human connection.

And how exactly can you prove that?

Well, I’m now exploring the possibility of identifying a specific community to test this out at scale. I’m still contemplating what metrics I would apply – # of connections made, psychological self-assessments, among others – but the intent would be to track and measure the overall impact of Multitudes as a sort of community building intervention. (If you have some ideas of what communities would make sense – your book club, neighborhood, or even team – I’d be down chat with you!)

I'm starting to think that Multitudes isn’t a tool for consumers – it’s for community builders.

In this episode of Live from the Multiverse, we have two conversations for you.In the first, Nathan and Casey (voices modulated) sing each other nostalgic tunes, explore a world where bananas are illegal and talk about their fashion disasters.In the second, Andrew and Audrea share the ways in which they were stretched through their travels, how they handle their insecurities, when they felt alive, and why they are worth knowing. At the end, they came up with an elaborate story on human-eating aliens going into filmmaking!