There are several ways to get reassurance and peace-of-mind for a great startup idea: tons of traffic or a nice round of funding are just a couple examples.
BWF is exactly what it sounds like: An app that lets you find Facebook friends who are equally interested in having sexual relations. Its Pinterest-like interface shows photos of your Facebook buddies with a “Down to Bang” button attached to each one. You simply make your picks, and if they happen to pick you, too, you’ll both receive a notification.
From there, it’s up to the users to figure out what’s next. The app essentially gets rid of awkward dates, conversations and the like, matching those who just want to get under the covers ASAP.
Hodge launched the app in January with Mor, a University of Washington graduate who grew up in Seattle and spoke at the recent launch of StartupSeattle. Both lived in the Emerald City, but just moved down to San Francisco to the Boost Incubator to work on their separate startups — Hodge with HeardAboutYou and Mor with Ziibra.
The founders were enjoying some drinks with their fellow incubator members when the idea for BWF came about.
“We were talking about the dishonesty and frustrations of online dating,” said Hodge, whose other startup, HeardAboutYou, is also about finding relationships as “the LinkedIn for lovin’.”
“We wanted to be able to focus on getting BWF off the ground instead of being distracted by any personal attention from the press and others,” Hodge said of staying under the radar. “Plus, since we were working on other startups at the time, we didn’t want to compromise those.”
BWF is off to a banging success — since the launch in January, they’ve grown to more than 1.1 million users, set up 200,000 “matches,” made a big splash at SXSW and expanded to the mobile platform.
But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Apple recently removed the app because of clause 16.1, which does not allow for apps with “excessively objectionable or crude content.” (Hodge said BWF is working with Apple to get the app back to the App Store; in the meantime, it still works via Android and the web). They’ve also had to change the app’s default privacy settings after The Daily Dot figured out that you could see which of your friends were using BWF.
Then there’s the touchy subject of sex, which can be problematic especially when trying to land funding. But the founders believe that it should be openly talked about, which is obviously apparent by BWF’s “How it Works” page (probably NSFW). Hodge said it’s a “crucial aspect of healthy relationships.”
“It shouldn’t be such a taboo subject,” said Hodge, who added that the feedback for BWF has been largely positive. “We’re providing an honest and simple way for people to connect offline. We’re staying true to the unabashed and humorous approach that really resonates with our generation.”
BWF declined to disclose how they’ve been funded to this point, but Hodge did say that he is the full-time CEO and there is a full-time team working on the app. There’s also newly-added features to “hang” with your friend before the “bang” part and and option for users to hook-up with those of the same sex.
Some have gone as far to say the idea may “revolutionize social interaction” because it “removes the fear of being judged,” while others question the morals of the app.
“Relationships are not supposed to start this way,” says a half-joking Stephen Colbert in the video above. “Where’s the mystery, where’s the romance? What happened to the old days where you would woo someone by waiting until the bartender yelled ‘last call’ and then shambling into a cab with the first warm body that did not actively resist you?”