Have you always wanted to know what strangers think about you? With a new Israeli social networking app called GetYou, you can get instant feedback. How? By playing a game to see how much you can guess about others – and what they’ve figured out about you.
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The concept might sound similar to hit hookup app Tinder, which allows users to say yay or nay to others in the area based on looks alone. But while Tinder is all about getting to know the (good-looking) locals, GetYou founder and CEO Orit Mossinson says the idea behind her deliberately global app is not to prejudge a prospective date a block away, but to transcend ethnic and cultural stereotypes and show people around the world – including those who live in countries that consider each other hostile, like Israel and Iran – that their similarities can overcome their differences.
GetYou shows: Cover can be wrong
“I always say that platforms like Tinder make you judge a book by its cover, whereas GetYou lets you see how wrong you were while judging and stereotyping at first glance,” says Mossinson, a serial entrepreneur in Tel Aviv who has been involved in founding about 10 other startups, including hotshot Web development platform Wix.
Describing how excited she was to find out that an Iranian played an Israeli within an hour of the app’s initial launch, she says: “I believe that after mistaking your enemy as your next-door neighbor more than once, you’d probably second-guess stereotyping next time you’re about to judge someone solely by his appearance.”
Though the game is currently the main offering on the app, the long-range plan is for it to be just one part of what will become a social networking platform, that could end up competing with giants like Facebook and LinkedIn and newcomers like Ello.
The game, essentially a discovery tool to help users meet new friends, originally looked like a card game in which each card represented a person the player could get to know. That was back when GetYou launched in July, from a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv where the startup team was working as Hamas fired rockets from Gaza. But new versions are coming out every month.
In the latest, you start playing by picking a face from your feed and picking one of four multiple-choice answers to questions like “How old is she?” and “What is her favorite food?”
The information can be taken from existing profiles on social media or from additional answers the user has provided. Once you answer the questions, you can see how many you got right and how others responded.
You can also chat with the person; in the promotional video, a guy comments on the fact that a 22-year-old American woman named Jessica chose pizza as her favorite food (“Really? You like pizza?!”) and receives the response “Not all girls are scared of carbs ;).”
“I wanted people to have the option of seeing how they’re perceived,” says Mossinson, who is in her 30s and grew up in Ramat Hasharon. “People are really looking for it.”
Profiles from around the world
GetYou has 550,000 profiles from over 190 countries so far, including Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.
Ultimately, each person who has a profile with GetYou will be able to post different channels representing different interests, to find out how people within and across those channels “get” them.
Mossinson is looking forward to meeting someone from another part of the world who, like her, is not only the founder of a startup but also has a doctorate (hers is in business, and she is an expert in conducting tech-related due diligence who taught at Tel Aviv’s Afeka College of Engineering for six years) and owns a bar (she opened Polly on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard with her best friend in 2012).
It was Mossinson’s multifaceted personal and professional life – and the fact that so many people knew only one aspect of it, utterly failing to guess, say, that the attractive woman with the long blond hair from behind the bar was also a CEO with a Ph.D. – that inspired GetYou in the first place.
“I have a Ph.D., so when they write my name at a conference, they write ‘Dr.’ at the beginning, especially if it has something to do with academic stuff,” says Mossinson. “I don’t know the number of times that I would come to a conference and they would say, ‘Oh, it’s not you, it’s Dr. Mossinson now.’ It’s supposed to be this old man with gray hair; it can never be a blond girl.”
“Meeting someone like me from another country... I would love that,” says Mossinson. “That’s why I wanted to start it."
The Israeli startup, which has 11 employees, was one of seven finalists in an international startup competition run by SevenVentures, an arm of Germany’s largest television network. As part of the contest, GetYou made its pitch this month at London’s NOAH Conference for Internet entrepreneurs, executives and investors. Though the startup didn’t win, Mossinson says the conference “gave us great buzz and great potential investors,” just as it was heading into its Series A financing round.
GetYou had previously raised $1.1 million in seed money, mostly from Israeli venture capital firm RDSeed, as well as from Wix co-founder Avishai Abrahami and another investor, and is now seeking to raise $2 million.