- Katey Psencik American-Statesman Staff
“Date a real man. Not a basic boy.”
That’s the phrase you’re greeted with when you visit the website for LUCK, a new Austin-based dating app.
“What makes LUCK better than other dating apps is we make a concerted effort to keep basic boys off of our platform,” said Albert Nguyen, the co-founder of the app (“basic boys” is their term for what you may know as a f***boy).
These “basic boys” constantly swipe right on everyone, lead women on and don’t send very good opening messages, according to LUCK.
“We do this by asking guys to put more effort into online dating, in hopes that the basic boys of the world will avoid us and stick to apps that are designed to allow them to sit back and do less,” Nguyen said.
Austin’s no stranger to homegrown dating apps. There’s Bumble, which is now one of the most-used dating platforms in the world with more than 18 million users (and features for making friendly and business connections), and Dindr, which just launched in Austin and also promises to cut back on mindless swiping and surface-level matches while also hooking users up with restaurant and bar recommendations for their dates.
So what’s different about LUCK? Well, you have three swiping options to choose from (apps like Bumble or Tinder tend to have simply a “yes” or “no” option, sometimes with a third “super-like” option to show somebody if you, well, super-like them). With LUCK, with a left swipe, you can say you don’t like somebody. With a right swipe, you can say you like them for “real,” and if you swipe down, you like them for “fun.” According to Nguyen, real matches stay open for five days, and fun matches stay open for just 24 hours. It’s up to users to decide what “real” and “fun” means to them. Users choose the “fun” option 42 percent of the time, Nguyen said.
Nguyen said these options are useful in a city like Austin, which is popular among travelers, because it gives users the chance to be up front about what they’re really looking for.
“This problem is especially prevalent in Austin with all of our festivals and the city just being a place people like to visit,” Nguyen said. “If you’re in town for the weekend, you’d swipe down for a fling. If you’re a local, you’d swipe right for a serious relationship, or if you see a traveler you want to have fun with, you’d swipe down on them. We only match users who express the same intentions, so you don’t waste your time with people who aren’t looking for the same thing as you are.”
You can also tell people what you’re looking for by adding badges to your profile: for example, the “Wanderer” badge, which denotes that you’re traveling, or the “Rebound” badge, which implies that you’re looking for somebody to help you forget about somebody else.
There’s also a gaming option to the app -- you and your match can take part in word puzzles to give you an opportunity to impress them right off the bat.
“Austin is one of the most educated and creative cities in the nation, and for the most part, smart, creative people want to date other smart, creative people. So, part of the purpose behind our word puzzles is to challenge users to impress others with their wit and creativity,” Nguyen said.
He wants to encourage this creativity because of the tired copy-and-paste culture in many online dating experiences (Aziz Ansari’s “Going to Whole Foods, want me to pick you up anything?” storyline from “Master of None” comes to mind).
“If someone sends you a really clever opener on a typical dating app, you really can’t be sure if it’s original or if they just found it somewhere on the Internet. But with our word puzzles which are randomly generated for each match, you can be more certain that the person you’re talking to actually came up with that clever line on the spot, just for you,” Nguyen said.
What makes the app interesting, Nguyen said, is that it’s not as “mindless” as other dating apps -- perfect for Austin users, he thinks. It gives users more hoops to jump through than its competitors, though. Will Austin users bite?
“We believe that an app that requires users to put more thought and effort into the process, but makes it fun at the same time, will be a refreshing alternative for online daters who are tired of the same old crap. Of course, there are plenty of singles who’d prefer dating to be as mindless as possible, but truth is, we don’t want those people on LUCK. They aren’t the cream of the crop.”