Bridging the gap between social media and the real world is a thorny problem, but one company believes that it can get people outside and discovering the world around them by treating places like potential matches on a dating app.
Superb is a new iPhone app released Wednesday that marries place discovery with the mechanics that have made hit dating app Tinder a success. The app invites users to swipe potential destinations in their immediate area to populate a to-do list, and users receive feedback about which friends are interested in going to the same place.
“Whenever people swipe more things, we put those to the top,” co-founder Eddy Lu explained. “And we keep who has also swiped a secret, but then you swipe and you see who wants to do it.”
Lu said that the app will show whether friends have selected the same destination, but that it will also encourage users who want to meet one other to set up excursions via the app’s messaging feature.
Anyone who has spent time on Tinder will immediately understand Superb’s lightweight interface, which allows users to swipe right for places they want to go to and swipe left to trash them for good. It’s a bit clunky to swipe through places, though, as you actually have to physically swipe down on a place to pass it rather than a new location automatically appearing after swiping left or right. It takes a little getting used to, but the choice to populate the app with Foursquare’s free API with supplemented listings from Superb itself makes it visually appealing.
Lu and his team of 12 previously worked on Grubwithus, a three-year-old Y Combinator-backed startup that encouraged users to set up group dinners based on geolocation. But that iteration never gained the traction that Lu desired, and the company put the $7 million Series C it raised in 2012 to turn the product into Superb. He added that the team learned to focus on making the app as minimal as possible to drive users to not get caught up in logistics and go out to places that excite them.
“We wanted to take a step back, reduce the social barriers, and get people offline and connecting in the real world,” Lu said
Grubwithus was born back in 2011, when companies like Oink and Zaarly tried to capitalize on “real world” actions like rating bagels or borrowing tools. But those companies didn’t take off.
Lu and his team were smart to incorporate traits from the best online/offline dating apps to make Superb fun to use. But the idea of dinners with strangers or going through a complicated set of messages to get to the new restaurant in the area may still create enough friction to make that bridge from online to offline tenuous.