Those in the online dating/hookup scene may be familiar with DOWN (formerly Bang With Friends). It’s a straightforward app that encourages users to be direct about what they want to do: date or bang.

The app was received well by many, not so well with others (iTunes, for example), and for a variety of reasons: some are looking for love, others seek something more casual. And while DOWN allows users to opt for a date instead of a “bang,” the app is known primarily for facilitating hookups and casual sex.

As hard to imagine as it may be, the makers of DOWN have been focusing their attention to something, well, sweeter, for quite some time.

Soon to undergo early testing in the UK and Asia, is a new app called Sweet, created by the same folks behind DOWN.

“I’ve been wrestling with the idea since we started DOWN, to be honest,” says Colin Hodge, founder & CEO. “I started plans in earnest about a year ago.”

Sweet, like DOWN, is a direct app that promotes straightforward interactions between users. Unlike DOWN, the main focus of Sweet is harnessing connections that lead to relationships–but not marriage. Sweet treads water between casual dating and lifelong connections, helping young professionals find each other at a point when they’re looking to share space but not yet settle down.

The app functions utilizing two primary mechanics: Likes and Sweet Likes. A Like essentially notifies users that their profile has been positively received, and a Sweet Like allows a personal message to be included along with their Like. Sweet Likes encourage users to share why they like a profile. “Sweet Likes tell the receiver exactly what made them special to the sender, sparking a conversation that’s deeper than, ‘Hey baby,’” says Hodge.

Sweet strays far from the fast and often impersonal experience of popular apps for casual dating and hooking up such as Tinder and Grindr. It strives to create a more personalized and unique environment for meeting people, akin to an OkCupid that forces users to prompt matches, as opposed to a questionnaire doing the work for you.

Not like many apps that attract users by boasting a large usership alone, Sweet hopes to attract users based off of the unique in app experience its developers are working hard to create. The thought process is: if an app offers a quality experience, then it will attract quality users.

As for who those quality users look like: women.

“Overwhelmingly, the feedback from women who use dating apps is that they want to be treated like they are special and not just a number,” says Hodge. “In the straight dating scene, it’s well known that attracting lots of women will quickly lead to men following, so we’re not worried about that part.”

This is part of the thought process that has led Hodge to create a dating app centered around women, and in a part of the world that perhaps needs it most, South Asia.

“Women are the drivers of cultural dating changes worldwide. They’re smart, driven, and want control of more aspects of their lives, increasing their independence and therefore changing the dynamics of dating,” explains Hodge, “Young, professional women around the world deserve a way to find and date the best men without feeling like just another face in an app…It was clear that many regions in Asia would be less accepting of a casual dating app…As such, my plans for Sweet became all the more crucial for expanding significantly in Asia.”

As for women who are not exclusively interested in dating men, “In both DOWN and Sweet, we certainly provide a way to choose who you’d like to see (and therefore who should see you). In the future, we will be adding more ways to fully support everyone who may want to use our apps,” assures Hodge.

As far as men who are looking for men are concerned, about 30% of all matches made in DOWN are male-to-male–but it’s hard to predict what that number will look like for Sweet, being a heterosexual female centered app.

One feature that never fails to trend as popular among all kinds of dating and hookup apps is the ability to exchange photos. Picture sharing isn’t a feature that’s being worked on in Sweet at the moment, as it doesn’t align with the app’s core goals: to prevent women from feeling like “just another face,” and encourage IRL interactions. “Ideally, our matches will get to know each other in the app, then of course meet offline once they’re both comfortable,” says Hodge. But plans are in the making to allow photo exchanges between consenting users in the future. Priorities however, will be preventing unwanted photos from being received, and on creating a user friendly reporting system when such incidents do arise.

Some may argue that a less photo focused dating app takes the sexual energy and excitement out of spontaneous online interactions, but Hodge isn’t worried about it, especially after travelling across 15 countries in the past year collecting feedback that positioned this as a non-issue.

“I’ve soaked up as much feedback as humanly possible about dating cultures worldwide,” says Hodge, “I’ve studied what the younger pool of daters (ages 18-35 or so) all have in common, and what subtleties give each culture their own twist…Really, we all want others to treat us sweeter and make us feel unique. Sweet gives you that feeling without losing the adventure and excitement of having a world of possibilities at your fingertips.”

Sweet is still in private beta in very select areas. You can read more about it here.


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