This dating app’s business model is making me pay up for being desperate and insecure

Nikhil Jois June 24, 2016 3 min

The problem with popular dating app ‘Hot or Not’ — rumoured to be more popular among Indian men in Tier-2 cities than Tinder — for a 20-something single man is that it is depressing just to be on it. It preys on your desperation and does a good job of it.

As an entrepreneur, my startup is the closest thing to a daughter-in-law my mother has. So, when FactorDaily asked me if I could test out this app, which seems to have become all the rage in this part of the world, I was only too happy to.

For the uninitiated, the app lets you rate people “Hot” or “Not” based on their profile pictures. After you rate a person, you graduate to chatting with him or her or sending her virtual gifts and so on.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#ffcc00″ class=”” size=””] Even my mother hasn’t added me on Google Plus, yaar.   [/pullquote]

The sign-up process on the app was quite weird but as someone who has only used Tinder briefly, this did feel like a more secure system. A simple Facebook login did not suffice. I was asked to link as many social accounts as possible. They even wanted my Google Plus link.

Even my mother hasn’t added me on Google Plus, yaar.

Incidentally, I believe women don’t have to jump through all these hoops in order to get on to the platform. Just linking your Facebook account is enough. Tells you a bit about the gender ratio here, huh?

After linking accounts and taking a selfie in a suggested pose to prove that I am a real person and that my face truly looks that good, my account was finally live. Despite all this, I was asked if I found Aishwarya Rai Bachchan hot or not. I didn’t have the patience to enter my interests individually so I let them pull that information from Facebook and completed my profile.

Once the game was on, I quickly realised that while the Hot (heart symbol ) or Not (cross symbol) interface is simple enough, the experience of trying to find potential matches was marred by the constant attempts to sell paid features, which they call “super powers.”

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#ffcc00″ class=”” size=””]As someone who is turning to technology for help in finding dates, the last thing I need is a flurry of punches directed towards my ego.[/pullquote]

If I wasn’t being asked to buy “coins” that ensured I got a promoted profile, I was being reminded that I had a “low popularity profile” which showed up only after 2113 other profiles in their searches. It felt like the business model revolves around making me pay up for being desperate and insecure. Well, they’ve found their market in India for sure. After all, who doesn’t want fraandship amirite?

As someone who is turning to technology for help in finding dates, the last thing I need is a flurry of punches directed towards my ego. If I wanted to be told I wasn’t popular with women I’d just go and talk to my Twitter followers or my family. Even if an app can’t deliver actual matches, the least it can do for me is let me pretend to be a studmuffin. The need for validation needs to be satisfied in order for me to become a truly active user — and somehow ‘Hot or Not’ failed to do anything to my ego other than bruise it further.

Although I did get a couple of matches thanks to the right swipe spree I went on, there were no real conversations that happened. Also, thanks to an inadvertent error in the beginning, which resulted in my being shown both men and women as potential matches, I realized the obvious — the numbers were skewed in favour of women. Getting an engineering college’s entire mechanical engineering department online is not exactly disruptive, is it?