Standing out in a crowded marketplace of dating apps is no easy task, but highly successful entrepreneur Didier Rappaport embraced that challenge when he launched Happn in 2013.

Didier Rappaport

Didier Rappaport

The visionary who co-founded Dailymotion and turned the video-sharing platform into a multi-million-pound success story set his sights on a fresh challenge as he took on the giants of the dating app world and, once again, he has struck gold.

It's simple to use and taps into GPS tracking that allows you to connect with people you may already know and would like to get to know better. Happn highlights the profession of its users in a more prominent fashion than its rivals and has proved to be a huge hit with audiences who are keen to make up for 'missed connections' that may have been elusive until now.

Offering up maps showing where you could have met potential partners in the past seven days, this is a dating app that has already pushed boundaries and as Female First sat down with Rappaport for an exclusive interview, it was clear he has big plans for Happn moving forward.

Explain the ethos behind Happn.

We decided to create Happn because we felt that dating apps and dating websites were too virtual. The feedback we were getting suggested people felt dating apps were far too reliant on the visual. Some of them can look like a supermarket of profiles and we don't get a chance to know the people and what they are like. Our mission was to bring the real world into the dating space. The question is, why should we go online to meet new people when we cross paths with so many people every day. The answer for us was to develop the model that became Happn.

So if you saw someone for a fleeting moment and wish you spoke to them, Happn might allow you to grab back that moment?

Precisely. We want to give people a chance to develop relationships with people who they may have met briefly or who they saw earlier on in their day. The idea is to go out with people who are around you already and who you don't need to go and search for and this is the unique reason why Happn has proved to be so successful. When you look at your timeline on Happn, you know these are people that will be nearby to where you live or may work in the same place. These are people that are already part of your life, maybe only in a small way, so there is no reason why you cannot develop that association.

Has the attitude changed towards people using dating apps now?

Absolutely. This is now the normal way to meet people. There was a time when people who used a dating app were seen as losers, but this stigma has disappeared. Today, it is part of everyday life, with an app like Happn very much a way to enhance your life and bring you happiness. A modern love story can start with one night of sex and develop into so much more. That is modern love.

Is it still too hard for people to find the right partner on a dating app?

When you ask single people why they are not with someone, they will all tell you that it is difficult to find time for dating, especially if you are a professional with a demanding job. Also, making that first move is always a challenge, especially when it is a total stranger and Happn is very much a tool to solve this problem. Often you have people who are over 40, they are looking for a second life after a divorce and maybe they have kids, it can be tough to get back into dating. You need some assistance and this is where a dating app like ours can be very beneficial.

So what is the next big development in dating apps?

Video, video and more video. At this moment, my feeling is too much of the focus is on the appearance of the person in their profile image. We need to allow people to hear the voice, to see the mannerisms and understand the person better than just looking at their picture. Clearly, the profile picture is important, but these people have a brain and we want our users to have a different experience from other dating apps. We are working on developments that will allow the real-life around you to come out of your phone and make an impact directly on you. This will be the next big enhancement to our service is coming later this year, with more video interaction, the ability to send a text and to bring people closer together more quickly.

What has surprised you about this successful venture into the dating business?

When we moved to India with Happn, it was a huge experiment for us. How could a dating app be successful in a country where arranged marriage is such a strong part of the culture? Well, we are now the No.1 dating app in India and have double the amount of people than Tinder in that region. It shows that Happn can be a success everywhere in the world and that is exciting or our future.

For more information on Happn, click here.

By Kevin Palmer (@RealKevinPalmer)

Tagged in