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Bang With Friends’ Founder: On Rebranding as ‘DOWN’ and Making Online Dating More Honest

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Remember that popular Facebook application Bang With Friends? Yes the one that helped you figure out which one of your Facebook friends were open to having sex with you.  Well, that app recently rebranded themselves as DOWN after settling a trademark dispute with Zynga on the “with friends” part of the name.

Bang with Friends is simple, honest and brazen. Today, we announce that we are doubling down on our commitment to those qualities with our new company name, DOWN. We chose DOWN to represent the simple, natural way that our generation dates, without alienating people who may not want an app that says ‘bang’ but are totally down otherwise.

We had the pleasure of catching up with Colin Hodges, the CEO and Co-founder of the app. Here we discuss the rebranding of his startup, pitching his product to investors, and whether he wants DOWN to be his long-term career.

Give us a quick background of yourself and how all this got started

I started another dating company called HeardAboutYou (renamed from Suave.ly) and I spent over a year doing customer research and working on that. While in Boost VC (an incubator in San Mateo, CA), I discussed the problems with dating apps and with my upcoming beta version with a friend. That discussion grew to a few more people at the incubator, and we kept coming back to the frustration with the dishonesty and unnatural process on other sites. We decided that we should allow people to be direct with their intentions, recognize the crucial role that sex plays in relationships, discover hidden mutual interest with friends. In a few hours, three of us (from different projects) hacked together the first version.

Today, you guys rebranded as “DOWN” after that drama with Zynga over the “with friends” trademark, are you sad to see the “Bang With Friends” brand go?

Bang With Friends will always be in our DNA, but we’re happy to transition to a wider-appealing brand that is elegant and completely distinct. We actually started this rebranding back in early June when we submitted DOWN to the App Store.

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One of the things I believed you mentioned was that you were looking to try an get more women on the site through the new brand, how do you intend on doing that?

We have a healthy mix of men and women on our app, but we are always striving to make it even better and more comfortable for women especially. We’re the safest dating app since everyone you meet is a real person who is connected to you through your social graph: your friends and their friends.

Are you single at the moment? Do you personally use your own app yourself?

Yes, I’m single and I’m definitely getting DOWN!

It’s been reported that you’ve raised 1 million in funding this year. Has pitching your product to investors been a challenged because of the what the product is?

Fundraising for BWF was quite the ride! Lots of investors were interested, and we had to turn down quite a few. The investors we have on our team are brazen and understand disruption, so they’re a great fit for us. I will say, we definitely have one of the most entertaining pitches that investors hear!

What’s your typical answer to people that say your app is sexist and objectifies women?

We haven’t heard this – in fact, we’ve heard from many women who love that we empower them to take an equal part in the dating process instead of being inundated with creepy messages from strangers or feeling unsafe meeting someone.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your experience as an entrepreneur?

What’s most important is that you keep moving. There will be many highs and lows, but those who fight through all of it can succeed.

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Care to share any funny stories regarding you or people that have used your app?

We had a couple email us to tell us how happy yet silly they felt when they found out that after being friends for 4 years, they are both interested in each other and have started dating! Sometimes, it’s just the extra push to break the ice that people need to discover a match and happiness!

Tell us some exciting things coming to us from DOWN

Version 2 of our app is currently in beta and has some really exciting changes. You’ll see a sexy smooth design, people that your friends know in addition to your Facebook friends, and much more!

What do you intend on doing in regards to your entrepreneur career? Do you see yourself working on this app for quite a long time? Or would you like to start other companies in the future?

I’m focused on DOWN right now and we have lots of fun things to do to keep fixing the dating world. Afterward, I’ll definitely be involved in other startups.

Follow DOWN

Website: DOWN

Twitter: @BangWithFriends

Facebook: Bang With Friends

+Benny Luo has been an Internet Marketer since 2006. His expertise lies in social media marketing & strategy, search engine marketing and pay-per-click advertising. He has produced various red-carpet events in Los Angeles, and was the Social Media Strategist for the 2011 Billboard K-Pop Masters Concert. Benny is a former Yonex-sponsored Junior National Badminton Player.
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