Shalom Life | June 16, 2014

Startup Club: Bang With Friends

Shalom Life speaks to Colin Hodge, CEO of Bang with Friends, on the Apple controversy, coming back on the market as 'Down', and why his app is different from every other dating site out there

By: Daniel Koren

Published: September 25th, 2013 in Business » World

Startup Club: Bang With Friends

Over the past few decades, a growing number of small businesses involved in various industries have popped up around the world meeting the needs of an ever-growing, ever-changing market.

Jewish businessmen and innovators continue to excel throughout these industries, displaying their prowess as creative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs, and tapping into continuously developing markets with 'startup' companies.

In a bid to recognize these decorated entrepreneurs for their ongoing contributions and advancements to these fields, Shalom Life is pleased to present: Startup Club, highlighting the best and the brightest of Jewish entrepreneurs who continue to provide our community with new, influential and innovative ideas that will forever change the way we interact with the world, and with one another.

Follow our lead and we’ll follow yours – send us tips or suggestions via email, comment below or tweet us @ShalomLife, in our mission to celebrate the most visionary of Jewish entrepreneurs.

Business: Bang With Friends (on Android)/ Down (on Apple)

Based Out Of: San Francisco, CA

Entrepreneur(s): Colin Hodge, Omri Mor

Industry: Hooking Up

In January of this year, an app called Bang with Friends made its way onto the market, with a premise as simple as its name, allowing users to scroll through their Facebook friends and comment on if they'd 'bang' them or not.

While one could do this in person, or via Facebook chat, email, over the phone, or at bars, Bang with Friends gave you the unique opportunity to remain discreet, not notifying your friends of your lustful intentions to engage in coitus with them, that is, unless, they felt the same way about you.

In a world where nobody likes to get rejected, and where orthodox dating sites are far from orthodox, it seemed like a commonplace venture that would likely receive a lot of hype.

And hype it did, albeit controversial, as Bang with Friends became one of the most blogged about applications of 2013, sparking the interest of sites like TechCrunch, BuzzFeed, Mashable, Pando Daily, and Polymic to name a few.

Many argued the app, which CEO Colin Hodge called 'the Linked In of lovin', encouraged acting only based on physical desire, while we all know there are also emotional and mental aspects to the term.

(Omri Mor (left) and Colin Hodge)

But are Hodge and co-founder Omri Mor so far fetched? I mean, we live in a pretty physical world, and admit it or not, every single one of us, guys and girls alike, have perused profiles on Facebook while commenting 'I'd hit that.'

Bang with Friends, 'the anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night', merely provides you with the tools in order to do so, and without having to get slapped or get a gin & tonic spilled in your face in the event that the bangee is repulsed by the notion, or simply doesn't feel the same way.

Alas, amidst growing controversy, Apple removed the application from their market after only three months, as Apple guideline 16.1 restricts "excessively objectionable or crude content."

At the end of this summer, Bang with Friends returned as the subtly titled 'Down' on Apple, as it seems Mac and iPhone users are more easily offended than Googlers. (The app remains as 'Bang with Friends' on Android).

Shalom Life had a chance to speak to 28-year-old CEO Colin Hodge on their decision to repackage the brand as Down, and what the reception has been like since they've founded the application that lets you do what everybody's thinking but often don't have the guts to vocalize.

Shalom Life: After arriving on the Apple App store last May, amidst much controversy, Bang with Friends was removed, and is now back under a new moniker: Down. Can you explain the premise behind Down? Does it work the same way?

Colin Hodge: Ah yes, the drama with Apple. Down is a relaunch of our Bang With Friends app, with the same honest, simple approach to discovering friends with mutual attraction. You can still say "I'm Down" with your sexy friends, or if you want to move slower you can choose "Up for Hang".

Shalom Life: Where did you get the initial idea for Bang with Friends? Was it a collaborative effort between you and Omri?

Colin Hodge: We started this project in a night of brutally honest conversations and programming. I had been toiling away for over a year on my own dating startup for singles to meet friends-of-friends, but I still felt it was missing something. One night, while working in a startup incubator, I started talking with others about how to make my dating app killer. With some drinks in hand, we naturally arrived at an easier version of my idea that cuts through the bullshit and is even simpler: anonymously find friends-with-benefits. The three of us (myself, Omri, and our other co-founder) were on separate projects, but collaborated to solve this problem. We focused on the key missing pieces in online dating for our generation: honesty and bite-sized consumption and a few hours later the first version of the site was ready.

Shalom Life: What has the response been like since you've come back on the market as 'Down'?

Colin Hodge: It's been pretty positive. Now, you can have our app on your phone without any stigma that may have come from a title with the word "bang" in it. We are still a sex-positive and honest service, but we want people to use it without hesitation.

Shalom Life: What are you trying to establish with Down? What service/need do you feel it provides that other apps like Tinder don't?

Colin Hodge: So many of our real world connections are made through our social groups. Having that context about the other person is crucial for people to feel safe and have a meaningful connection. We already have a curated group of people that we like, trust, and have less hesitation meeting offline - our friends. It just makes sense to uncover the hidden potential of some of our friendships since it's way safer than meeting a total stranger!

Shalom Life: Do you consider Down a dating site? If not, what would you call it exactly?

Colin Hodge: We're not a dating site, but we are dating as it should be and reflect how dating works in real life for the younger crowd. Down is all about creating and strengthening honest offline relationships, in whatever form people desire.

Shalom Life: There are many sites for casual hookups that are still around. Why do you think Bang with Friends caused so much controversy? The name?

Colin Hodge: We allow people to connect with people they already know (so they're real instead of fake profiles). Some of the best relationships are formed with people you already adore - your friends. We cut through the noise so you can say your true intentions instead of pretending that sex isn't a crucial aspect to relationships.

Shalom Life: Are there any other ventures you are involved in?

Colin Hodge: I'm a full-time CEO. Chief Bangin' Officer: best job in the world! :)

Since its launch, there have been over 19 million 'down to bang' clicks on the site, with over a million users logging in 70,000 times a day.

More than 200,000 pairings have been made.

Hodge has stated that their next move is to make the application more LGBT friendly. As the anoymous third co-founder of the venture put it, "We’ll be honest with you, we made this in two hours… with a lot of Red Bull and vodka … and it took off on its own. … What we’re working on right now is building sexual preferences. I personally am completely towards gay rights. We want to give everyone this awesome access to finding people who want to bang."

Think your facebook friends are sexy? Interested in 'banging' them? Colin, Omri and co. want to help you get there. Visit Bang with Friends today, and maybe you might have your chance.

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