Unless you’ve been completely disconnected from the Internet for the last couple months, you’ve heard of “Bang with Friends” — the app that uses Facebook to allow you to connect with friends you’re interested in banging. You pick the friends you want to bang, if both parties are interested in each other, a connection is made. It’s that easy.
We got on the phone with Colin Hodge, the 28-year-old co-founder and CEO of “Bang with Friends,” who may have uncovered the answer to what everyone has ever wanted since the beginning of time – casual sex with people you sort of know.
Booksoverflow: Hey Colin, are you in the Bang with Friends office as we speak?
Bang with Friends: Yep, we’re in the Bang Pad.
CH: Nice. You want to tell us how you thought of the idea?
BWF: [laughs] I was actually working on a different dating site at the time. I was the founder of that one as well, but I was in an incubator for start-ups and we just started drinking one night and talking about how, one, we could add a unique twist to the [the start-up] I was working on, and two, how we could just take a way different approach than everybody else and do something that’s truly honest and allows you to cut through the bullshit of, y’know, typical online dating. So after some drinks we kind of hacked together Bang with Friends version 1, and it just took off from there. We immediately saw how excited people were. One of the guys in the office came in 2 days later and already had a match that was set up for that weekend. So it was pretty insane how quickly it caught on and started working.
CH: Do you consider it more of a dating site than a hookup site?
BWF: Yeah, I mean we want people to just be able to say their true intentions no matter what they are. Obviously the most taboo one that people look at is… banging, but our mobile apps allow you to say if you’d rather hang out with a person first as well, just so that first meeting you know what you’re getting into and you can kind of set expectations. That’s what we think is one of the biggest problems with dating sites – a lot of dishonesty, y’know, guys and girls not saying truly what they’re looking for or what’s on their minds.
CH: How did you find your team?
BWF: We were all working in the same incubator here in California. Basically they give you some office space and you’re there for a few months of intensive work on your startups and we were all working on different projects at the time but came together to fight this battle and solve this problem that we think is pretty big, especially for the younger generations who don’t really want to use sites that are outdated and old fashioned like eHarmony and that sort of thing.
CH: So do you guys all use Bang with Friends? Would you consider yourselves active users on the site?
BWF: [laughs] Hell yes.
CH: Yeah? And how has it gone for you guys?
BWF: It’s gone pretty well. [laughs] I mean I’m not gonna brag, but it works. I’ll say that much.
CH: OK, so you know these people you want to bang. Why not just say, “Hey, do you want to go out on a date?” Why do you have to wait for this weird cyber agreement on both sides? You just think it makes it easier? I imagine you must already have a somewhat intimate relationship with someone if you kinda want to bang them, right?
BWF: I mean, one, the thing is most people, they have these friendships and they don’t necessarily want to risk losing that friendship. But they can’t help but think that they would hookup with that person or date that person if they could take away that risk. It’s a way of both saying what you feel about the other person at the same time. So this allows you that anonymous nature and it’s secret until the other person likes you back. But we’ve heard numerous stories from users. This one girl emailed us. She had been pretty much best friends with this guy for about 4 years, and I guess they didn’t ever broach the subject, because when they started out they were just friends, but through our site they marked each other and found out that there’s a whole ‘nother level to their relationship that they were both interested in but never really wanted to break the ice in that way and risk ruining years of friendship, and so this allowed them to do it and now they’re in a serious, committed relationship with each other. So it’s kind of like that sort of thing is what we want to enable – both discovering who you have your eye on and they have their eye on you, and also enabling people to break the ice for whatever intentions they both have.
CH: Do you use Tinder or any other competitors?
BWF: I mean I try to use all of our competitors just so I stay on top of things. So I’ve tried out all of them, yeah.
CH: And you like yours the best?
BWF: I do. And I think both of them and a lot of the other apps take a slightly different approach and it’s important that each of us plays to our strengths. So I think, y’know, especially for the safety of meeting somebody that you already have a connection to, if you already know them, you’re more likely to actually meet-up with them, just because you don’t have to worry about the safety concern and, theoretically, you already enjoy this person’s company because you’re friends with them. For us, we think that it is important to have context around who that person is.
CH: Do you find that people will just click all of their friends just to see who is using the app?
BWF: [laughs] So a lot of people think that will happen, but it really doesn’t happen much and there are a few reasons. One of them is that then the site is useless to you. So if you actually do get a match then you don’t know if they did the same thing or you don’t know if the excitement is really there or it’s worth it. And it’s the same reason why I don’t go through and click everybody because I want some mystery to it and I want it to actually mean something when I get a match. Beyond that, I think a lot of people just find it a fun mental process to go through and think which of yours friends are bangable to you and which you want to hookup with instead of trying to game the system. We also do put some limits in place just to make sure people aren’t abusing it.
CH: Don’t you run into a problem for people who say, use it once, and after it goes through your limited supply of friends, you realize none of your friends want to bang you, and then, well, that’s that? Right?
BWF: Well we find that actually a lot of people go through the first time and only click a few. But then they end up coming back more and more and realizing, one, there’s no harm done and, two, they actually discover there are more friends that they’d get down with than they originally thought. So a lot of people will come back a few times within the first week and just mark more and more friends, with the average being around 20. Then we’re also looking at how can we expand this beyond your friends to something that still works and is still safe given the context of who the person is.
CH: So based on that, what has been your strategy for getting the word out? I imagine a successful Bang w/ Friends story probably is a pretty strong way to get other people to sign-up. But what are you guys doing to expand?
BWF: Yeah, I mean from a brand standpoint it is very much about focusing on getting more and more success stories out there. But beyond that, people really gravitate toward the honesty that we bring to it. Not many companies are as unabashed and as straightforward as we are and a lot of our users have told us “we love how you don’t bullshit us,” “we love how you allow us to be honest” and that’s something that’s really important for us and makes people talk about it with their friends because they’re like these guys dare to say what they’re thinking and what they want to do and they use humor to do it so, I mean if you even look at our “How To” page, it’s a guy putting on a condom. I think that really appeals to people because this is not your typical lovey-dovey fake bullshit that you see on other sites.
CH: Did you get any bad press for the bug a couple weeks ago where people could plug in a url to see which of their friends use BWF?
BWF: Yeah, we definitely got bad press with that. We tried to clarify it, but sometimes the media’s not very receptive to correcting articles.
CH: Someone found a hole in your system or something?
BWF: No, no, it wasn’t a hole at all in our system. What happened was Facebook was launching Graph Search to the public right after we launched out app, and part of that launch, unknown to developers, was how it would expose which users use which apps. You could search “show me which people use this app” and what controlled that was a setting when you installed the app that says who would see the posts from this application on my Facebook. So we quickly fixed that within a few days of launching, and the only people that show up in that search are the ones who have yet to go back and change that setting. It’s something we can’t do for them, all we can do is tell them how to fix it. It’s only a very, very small fraction of our users who would ever show up there, and it’s under their control if they want to set it to more public than our default setting.
CH: How long ago did you launch?
BWF: We launched January 23.
CH: And you guys just revealed your identities recently, correct?
BWF: Yeah, yeah we did. We kind of got outed unintentionally.
CH: What was the reaction from your friends and family when that happened?
BWF: Well, thankfully I had told a decent number of my close friends and family beforehand, but I can tell you the reactions from other people, both in real life and Facebook has been pretty mixed. A lot of people are supportive, but a lot of people are just really surprised and like, “what? [laughs] I never saw that coming!”
CH: Did your friends, or say, some girl you knew in second grade call you a pig or anything like that? This is disgusting what you’re doing?!
BWF: [laughs] No, so far only internet trolls have called me stuff like that. None of my friends have.