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Looking For Luv? Then Pay To Make It 'Happn'

Unlike other dating apps, Happn avoids the use of algorithms, and gets people in touch with each other through hyperlocation in real time

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Didier Rappaport calls it "bringing the real world into the dating space." The app 'Happn' launched all over the world, and now being introduced in India, aims to bring people together for conversation or even for a drink on a lonely evening "as people cross each other all the time," says Paris-based Rappaport, co-founder of what he concedes is a "subtle dating app". Such apps for hooking up and dating are plentiful; but for India it is interesting, because it is going to be a paid offering.

Here's how it works. After you download 'Happn', it taps into your Facebook data as well as connects you to other happn users. With hyper-geolocation, the app shows in real time in a 1 kilometer radius all the people you may have crossed paths with and lets you connect again with them. Every time you cross paths with another happn user in real life, their profile shows up on your timeline. You can check out their profile, dig up the last time you may have met; and if you find someone you like, there is a way forward.

Under the person's profile you select there is a heart button and a charm button. If you tap the heart you have activated a possible conversation and if the other person likes you too, a conversation can happen. However, the other side does not know you have pressed the heart button and it probably needs telepathy or strong mutual likes for this approach to materialize. There is the charm button too which is the direct approach. If you tap that, the person chosen gets pinged and can reply or let it go. The catch is: every time you tap the charm button, you pay!

It's not rocket science that tells us that a connection through the heart button can rarely happen. It is the charm button that is the digital equivalent of making a pass, and that's what most Romeos and Juliets will be opting for.

Differentiating Happn from dozens of other dating formats, Rappaprot says: "We cross people all the time in real life, why go online to find new people. Dating algorithms ask too many questions. We believe in little coincidences." Why is it different? That amazing girl or guy who whizzed past on a bike and you are longing to talk to...You can't get to the god or goddess with other tools; but with happn, you have a second chance…That's how the marketing goes.

Happn was conceived of and launched in France by Rappaport in 2014 with 2 others, Anthony Cohen and Fabian Cohen. Today the promoters claim it has 17 million users in 40 cities, and is rapidly adding 2 million every month. Interestingly, in density of use, it is Sau Paulo that is most 'happning', followed by Oslo, Copenhagen and Buenos Aires.

Asked about the revenue, Rappaport claims "it is in millions." Rappaport has been a serial digital investor since the mid-1995 when he launched a textile trade site, followed it up in 2002 with a B2B platform for internet professionals, and then launched the successful video-sharing website Dailymotion. A couple of years ago, Dailymotion was sold to Orange which recently sold it to Vivandi for $250 million.

Will it work in India? Rappaport says he knows India well and its liberalizing culture would welcome such an app. However, where free apps are the norm, the ability to deliver dreams would have to be extremely compelling for those Indians in search of love to pay for it. More importantly Happn will soon face someone who does it for free!

Again, culturally is it done in India to approach a hardly-known person for a possible intense conversation or evening? Not likely. Delhi is not Sao Paulo, and the response to the charm may well be a digital slap. On the other hand, if you already know a person, a free Whatsapp message is what a local Romeo may opt for.

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