An interview with BONKERS co-founder, Jay Dodds
Startups was lucky enough to interview Jay Dodds, co-founder of new dating app BONKERS about all things online dating, safety, and what the future holds. Bonkers is the first UK app to welcome people of all sexual orientations to search for both casual fun and long term dating whilst integrating personal safety technology into its user experience.
Tell us about BONKERS, where did the idea for the app come from?
Bonkers is the newest dating app on the market and was created by a team of well aligned individuals who knew they had the skillset to change the stigma and mentality around online dating. Technology is constantly evolving and is moving faster than we can keep up with which, a lot of the time can be for negative reasons.
We decided it was time to take technology and use it for the better by creating a safer dating world for all. We want to focus on our four pillars of user safety including - mental health, physical health, financial health and sexual health and forging relationships and collaborations which encompass all of these.
Online dating is a heavily crowded market, what makes BONKERS different?
Bonkers focuses on quality and safety rather than a huge user base in a saturated market. We put our focus and investment into creating a safer space for users rather than mass dating. Having safety at the forefront of the brand gives users a sense of comfort and confidence to date.
Online safety is at the top of the agenda for BONKERS, what measures do you have in place to protect your users?
We are continuously investing in our technology to add features for our users. Currently we have implemented our 3D facial recognition for verification, blocked screenshots across the entire app, embedded video call, voicenotes, security pin and WalkSafe technology to keep you safe when leaving the app and meeting with others in person.
AI has become such a huge conversation in any industry, how do you envision this effecting the online dating industry?
We believe there is a place for AI in the world however we do stand against using AI irresponsibly within dating apps. We have seen several examples of love coaches using AI to dupe profiles from bio images. In a world where we are pushing for you to be your true and authentic self, why would we want users to give a false representation of themselves using AI?
Do you feel other dating apps have prioritised online safety as much as they should have?
I think we are certainly seeing a movement since Bonkers launched with some of the big dating apps starting to look at online safety more. However, I personally feel the main focus for these companies is and always will be keeping investors happy. I do not think they are authentically putting their users' safety first, which may be controversial to say. However, that's my honest opinion.
Online dating can often have an effect on mental health, what advice would you give to users when meeting online?
My personal advice is to just be you, don't try and pretend to be someone. you're not online. I would also offer the below tips:
- Time limit: Being on a dating app can provide endless scrolling time, making it very easy to find yourself feeling overwhelmed. For some people, it can really help to set a time limit on how much you spend on the app itself.
- Listen to your feelings: Allow yourself to feel what you feel, if you're becoming a little overwhelmed or are not feeling great, dont put too much pressure on yourself. Dating is supposed to be fun, so take a little time out and come back when you're feeling better.
- It’s okay to switch off: The best part about being on a dating app is that it's all your choice, and with that, you're allowed to log out when you’re feeling overwhelmed – keep that in mind and remember it’s OK to take a break when you need.
What can we expect to see from BONKERS in the future?
A movement bigger than just a dating app. We are a community, An app for everyone, A safe space to date in confidence.