LINCOLN PARK — A 16-year-old Lincoln Park High School student is seeking to save his classmates from the embarrassment of romantic rejection.
On Valentine's Day, Samuel Lurye will launch Kiss, a mobile dating app that allows high schoolers to ask a guy or girl if they like them.
The beauty of the app is that it is anonymous.
The founder wants to make one thing clear: It is not the Tinder for high schoolers.
"We are looking to bring old-school romance back to dating," Lurye said. "We are trying to give people the confidence."
Paul Biasco was impressed by Lurye's plan:
Through the app, users can send a "lineup" of three to seven names to their crush, including their own. The crush then rates all the individuals without knowing who sent the "kiss."
The user then receives a return message, called a kiss, relaying whether their crush has any interest.
The responses to the other decoys sent along with the kiss are never revealed.
"The app would save a lot of people worry, embarrassment and stress," Lurye said. "Honestly, just a few months ago" — before he started dating his current girlfriend, he said — "it would have really helped out."
Of course, the receiver of the crush could attempt to figure out the sender by doing some digging.
"All three of us have plausible deniability if she does go and try to find out who sent her the kiss," Lurye said.
To send someone a kiss through the app, a user needs to have a crush's email or phone number.
Lurye envisions high schoolers as the main users of the app, but said he figures Kiss will be popular among college-age students and adults as well.
"High schoolers are really the age group where it's most awkward," he said.
During the early stages of the app's development, Lurye asked his father what dating was like during his high school days.
It's the same as it has always been, Lurye said.
"Nothing has really changed in 30, 40 years, and I started thinking, 'Why hasn't anything changed even though we have progressed so far with technology?'" Lurye said.
Without Kiss, most high schoolers rely on the classic crush litmus test — using a friend to try to pry info from a prospective date about their feelings toward them — without blowing their cover.
"Why not take [out] the hassle of the talking and the fact that he might say something wrong or she might say something wrong, and put it on the phone?" Lurye said.
The idea for the free app, which will launch initially in the App Store, was sparked during a trip to Atlanta last summer to a training program for young entrepreneurs. During the six-week program called Endevvr, Lurye texted 10 friends and asked what their biggest day-to-day problems were.
Eight of the 10 were identical.
"They were all like, 'I like this girl; I don't know what my chances are with her,' or 'I like this guy; prom is coming up, and what are the chances he will ask me out?'" Lurye said.
Some serious Chicago investors have taken note, and Lurye is currently weighing a number of "substantial" investments from venture capital funds, he said.
The revenue model for the app hasn't been determined, but Lurye envisions a "freemium" model down the road that could limit the size of a lineup a user could send, or a model that gives a crush the ability to whittle down a lineup by paying extra.
For now, it's all about building up the user base.
"It's something that was needed from the start of time," Lurye said of his app.
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