There is an inherent problem that plagues all dating apps. The world is getting smaller — instead of choosing a mate from the pool of our college classmates or neighborhood friends, we’re now connected to everyone on the planet with a few taps of the thumb.
This means that dating apps rarely run short of people to serve up, which means that we’re playing a game of optimization. Folks looking for something serious rarely declare that on their profile, while folks looking for a hot night rarely explicitly state that. Profiles are, instead, an optimized version of ourselves, equipped with the photos and information that are most likely to receive the highest volume of inbound engagement.
This leads to a lot of swipes, a lot of matches, a lot of messages, and a lot of time spent talking to people that you probably won’t have a true connection with. There is no system in place to filter down people you are both physically attracted to and intellectually inspired by.
That’s where Sapio comes in.
On a surface level, Sapio looks a lot like Tinder. After signing up with the relevant information about yourself and what you’re looking for, Sapio serves up other users nearby with a photo-focused profile. Like Tinder, you can swipe right if you like someone and left if you’d rather pass. You can also expand the profile to read a little bit about the person.
Alongside information like age and location, the profile also includes three questions that have been answered by that user. However, the answers aren’t displayed.
The only way to unlock answers to people’s questions is to answer those questions yourself. Or, use virtual currency. You acquire currency by answering questions, or purchasing them through in-app purchases.
Which brings us to the other half of the app. In a Questions section of the app, Sapio offers more than 300 open-ended questions across a wide variety of categories, including Personality, Hypotheticals, Dreams and Future Plans, Sex and Sexuality, and My Quirks.
A little like Facebook’s reactions, Sapio lets users ‘react’ to other users’ answers with a thumbs up, a heart, a question mark, exclamation mark, thumbs down, or HAHA.
What’s interesting about Sapio is that it allows for the same ‘game-playing’ mentality as Tinder or other dating apps that encourage you to keep swiping. But instead of filling the entire experience with pic after pic, users can head into the Questions section and start looking at text content the way they would on Reddit. Plus, they get to do a little self-exploration as they answer questions.
Digital dating is fun, but it can also be incredibly discouraging and emotionally exhausting. Sapio counters that by implementing an extra level of filtering when it comes to who you message and choose to meet IRL, while still offering an endless flow of content (both pics and answers) to look through while using the app.
Sapio founders Kristin Tynski and Kelsey Libert told TechCrunch that they plan to use virtual currency, which unlocks answers and may eventually be used to unlock more right swipes, as a revenue generator.