A Q&A with Charade Date/DNA Mobile founder Richard Burghardt. The Dallas, Texas-based startup, which offers an iOS mobile dating app that facilitates introductions through video-based charades, recently launched to the public on the Apple App Store. The company intends to compete with next-gen mobile-first dating apps like Tinder.
SUB: Please describe Charade Date and your primary innovation.
Burghardt: Charade Date is a new take on mobile dating where users play turn-based video charades with each other as a way to break the ice and start a conversation. This game format, combined with the video element, allows people to form connections in a more natural and honest way than traditional online dating.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Burghardt: Anyone that’s single, has an iPhone and has a sense of humor.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Charade Date from the competition?
Burghardt: Match.com, eHarmony, OkCupid, etc. would be our traditional competition, but we consider more novel approaches like Tinder to be our true competition. The difficult thing for many people about online dating, and even in great apps like Tinder, is trying to start that first conversation. Charade Date gives you something to talk about, and makes sending that first message feel more natural. The other big problem that Charade Date addresses is dishonesty in online dating. A number of studies have shown that over half of online dating profiles contain seriously dishonest or at least misleading information or pictures. It’s much harder to lie on video, and that also makes a big difference from both a safety aspect and in creating real connections that might lead to something more.
SUB: You just launched to the public on the Apple App Store. Why was this the right time to launch?
Burghardt: We still had some bugs to work out, but decided to go ahead and release and just tell friends and family so we could beta test it live on the App Store. It worked well, and we were able to get all of the issues worked out within the first six weeks or so. Had we waited longer to try and release a more fine-tuned product, we’d probably still be finding some of those bugs that the broader exposure brought to light.
SUB: Is the app also available for Android devices?
Burghardt: Not yet. We had to pick one platform to start with, and our research suggested that iOS was the right place to start for a mobile dating app.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point?
Burghardt: We raised a little money from friends to get Charade Date developed. We may be looking to raise more in the near future as we see the concept continue to prove itself out.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Charade Date? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Burghardt: It always bothered me that at any given moment thousands-and-thousands of people are interacting with each other through mobile games, and they remain strangers. There have to be countless missed opportunities for people to make meaningful connections if only they’d known what someone looked like, how close they lived, or even just if they were male or female. I watched Words With Friends’ and Draw Something’s success, and it occurred to me that charades was a logical next step and the perfect way to try to address these missed opportunities.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Burghardt: Talked about it with everyone I met to make sure I wasn’t crazy. Snagged the domain address and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. accounts. Partnered with friend and startup lawyer Kevin Vela to get the legal stuff figured out and locate a developer. Raised a little money and pulled the trigger with SquareBall Studios.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Burghardt: Originally, I really liked ‘Charades with Strangers,’ but one too many people told me it was creepy. I thought it was funny.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Burghardt: This was only my second company to be involved with creating, and my first app, so there was a lot to learn to get Charade Date built; and there’s still a lot more to learn about marketing.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Burghardt: We have in-app purchases for new features ready-to-go, but don’t plan to introduce monetization until we’ve reached a level of growth that we are excited about.
SUB: What are your goals for Charade Date over the next year or so?
Burghardt: Continue to gain traction, introduce new features, launch on Android, and hear a bunch of success stories from people that met in-app.