IceBreaker social mobile software: Crush or Flush CEO exclusive interview

IceBreaker social mobile software: Crush or Flush CEO exclusive interview

February 26th, 2007 6:28 am

Did you ever want an ice breaker, a mobile one? 

Crush or Flush to the rescue, a new social mobile service from
IceBreaker, Inc., a mobile software company that “helps people stay
connected through mobile software that is engaging and easy to use.” 

What is Crushin’ and Flushin’?

Tag a hottie and they’re crushed, Find a not so hottie and they’re flushed, tell a friend and share the love! 

The Crush or Flush interactive mobile dating platform:

Crush or Flush lets you flirt, chat, and meet new people
while you are on the go. You can chat people up, or just check people
out and hook up your friends using your mobile phone or your computer
(PC or Mac).

“Shut the Flush Up and Crush Me”

IceBreaker was co-founded last year by Michael Robinson, CEO. Prior
to IceBreaker, Robinson ran the Wireless product unit for the Windows
group at Microsoft and was the CEO and co-founder of renren Media, a
publicly traded consumer Internet company in Hong Kong.

What inspired Robinson to develop Crush or Flush? What does he envisage for IceBreaker? I spoke with Robinson to find out.

I started by asking Robinson how a team of not-so-young Microsoft
“guys” found themselves developing a business around young “hotties”
hooking up?

Robinson told me his experiences running a consumer Internet portal
in Hong Kong provided him with insights on how people tend to meet
online. Robinson’s work with renren Media also reinforced the
importance of usability in consumer facing applications, Robinson
underscored.

IceBreaker CTO Eric Hennings is an experience design expert. A
Microsoft veteran, he helped create products such as Internet Explorer,
MSN Money, Microsoft Appointment Manager, Microsoft CRM…

Crush and Flush launched last month, the first of IceBreaker’s
planned development of a series of social mobile services for
consumers. Robinson indicated to me that the team’s knowledge and
experience in the social applications arena along with unique
perspectives on user experience are key competitive differentiators.
Robinson also underscored IceBreaker’s understanding of the interaction
between mobile and the PC.

Robinson
told me IceBreaker solutions do not simply “shove the PC experience
into the phone.” Crush and Flush translates Web based social
experiences into unique, mobile centric ones.

IceBreaker on Crush or Flush:

"Crush or Flush allows users to sign up using any cell phone or
computer. You create a profile, upload a face picture, and choose or
create some tags that describe you (e.g. UCLA, yoga, chocolate,
travel). Once registered, users can browse picture profiles based on
age range, city, and interests, all for free. Every word, link, and
graphic has been engineered to be simple and intuitive on even the
smallest cell phone. For example, all Crush or Flush profiles are
optimized for mobile viewing with face pictures and browseable tags.
Unlike other “search-oriented” mobile dating applications, our
community authored tag library makes it fun and easy to browse profiles
by interests.

The mobile software features “Tell a Friend” technology which allows
users to send profiles via text message directly to a friend’s cell
phone, with no download necessary. Users can pass along those
irresistible profiles with one click – because sometimes no words are
needed."

Hennings on safety and privacy:

Unlike traditional dating sites where members can hide
behind multiple profiles, on Crush or Flush you can only have one
profile that is tied to your cell phone number. If someone causes a
problem we will block his or her number and that person will disappear
from Crush or Flush. The only time a user is notified is when a mutual
crush has been made, at which time the users can be connected to chat
anonymously within the application and without having to swap phone
numbers. This eliminates the problem of users being solicited by people
they are not into. Finally, if a profile has been flushed, there is no
notification, so the rejection factor is taken away, ensuring a good
experience for everyone.

How much Crushin’ and Flushin’ is goin’ on? Robinson told me uptake
and traction since launch about a month ago has been swift. Crush and
Flush counts 50,000 member profiles created and growing, with many
members logging 50 pages views or more at a time.

I asked Robinson about competition in the online and mobile dating spaces and about vying for member attention.

Robinson told me people in the dating market typically join multiple
services, likening the meet-up quest to using “multiple slot machines
at casinos.” Robinson also underscored Crush and Flush is a “highly
addictive social networking application” and “WAP has greater
penetration than Java.”

Crush or Flush is currently free to consumers, but IceBreaker is
exploring diverse revenue models including subscription plans,
transaction based, advertising supported…

Crush or Flush has “links on carrier decks” Virgin, Cricket and
AllTell. Robinson told me IceBreaker provides partners with “strong
income opportunities, a large and growing market, and an experienced
support team.”

Revenues for the online dating category are estimated at nearly
$600M in 2006 and the mobile niche is projected to grow at 62% per year
through 2009, according to statistics cited by Robinson.

Initial funding for Icebreaker’s Crush or Flush was provided through
a combination of angel investors and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Jake Seid, General Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners:

Based on
extensive user testing, and partner feedback, we believe Crush or Flush
has the most appealing user experience and feature set for our target
demographic, who are heavy cell phone users. As the first dating
application designed explicitly for the cell phone, Crush or Flush
completely rethinks one of the most compelling services on the Internet
for the dynamic and fast growing mobile web.

 

micromarkets imageDonna Bogatin , Capitalizing on Interactivity, Mobility and Personalization

Donna Bogatin has been probing the business heart of the Internet for
more than ten years. Don’t miss a single post. Subscribe via Email or RSS. Got news? Send Donna your pitch. Find out more at Donna’s Website: InsiderChatter.com. For disclosures on Donna’s industry affiliations, click here.

 

 

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