Yulia Karra
June 20

The creation of the Tinder dating app in 2012 revolutionized the matchmaking business. The app allows users to like or reject a potential partner with a simple swipe motion after viewing a profile image.  

Its immense success helped create an entire dating app industry, with hundreds of copycat apps emerging in the following years. 

Recently, however, more and more published studies have been claiming that using dating apps is very tough on a person’s mental health. They can lead to stress, anxiety, poor body image and low self-esteem. 

Fixing an unhealthy dating culture

“All of the apps currently on the market are dupes of Tinder, which is a matchmaking service on speed drugs,” Nissan Bahar, an Israeli tech entrepreneur and a founder of Heyoosh, tells ISRAEL21c.

Heyoosh, which celebrated its soft launch only recently, is not just another dating app. It is the world’s first AI-based personal matchmaker. And it aims to shake up the industry. 

“These apps have created a very unhealthy dating culture,” explains Bahar. “At first it was exciting, but later on these apps created severe burnout among the users.”

In Israeli slang, heyoosh simply means “Hey.” Oosh is a suffix of endearment.

Bahar, who cofounded Heyoosh with software expert Maor Gil, says their main goal is to make the digital dating environment safer. 

Heyoosh current cofounders Maor Gil (left) and Nissan Bahar (center), and former cofounder Ran Shmueli. Photo courtesy of Heyoosh
Heyoosh current cofounders Maor Gil (left) and Nissan Bahar (center), and former cofounder Ran Shmueli. Photo courtesy of Heyoosh

Heyoosh connects directly to the app through their Apple ID (at the moment, it is only available on iOS). It doesn’t ask you to upload dozens of profile pictures like the other apps, and its messaging service doesn’t permit image sharing. 

This allows users to get to know each other’s personalities, rather than base their decisions on the physical appearance of the other person. 

With time, the AI-based system learns your preferences and matches you with better potential partner options. 

Bahar adds that many users of Tinder, and similar apps, have become unable to sustain long-term relationships due to an erroneous belief that they can find someone new and better with a swipe of a finger.  

“People have completely lost the plot on how to behave in dating. We want people to think about each match before they even meet the person.”

Ethically clean

Many dating apps have also been accused of breaches of privacy and illegal data collection. A case in point was the hacking of the infamous Ashley Madison dating app — the subject of a new Netflix documentary

“These apps exploit the users,” claims Bahar. “Privacy is non-existent and the collected data is being leveraged for targeted ads.”

“Our goal was to create a user experience that is ethically clean. We built a zero knowledge system, we don’t even know who our users are,” he says.

“We don’t scan your data and then sell it to a marketing company. Your data is yours!”

The Heyoosh app interface 1. Photo: courtesy
The Heyoosh app interface 1. Photo: courtesy

The 45-year-old software guru adds that algorithms of most dating apps are built to keep the users active on the app for as long as possible.

“All personal messages [on Heyoosh] are encrypted, and no effort is made to keep the users active for the sake of it,” he says.   

Bahar believes most dating apps charge unreasonably high prices. “This year Tinder introduced its VIP subscription package that costs nearly $500,” he notes. 

“If you don’t pay, your profile will not be shown to other users by the algorithm. By that logic, the only thing that stands between me and my soulmate is that extra $20,” he laughs. 

A one-month Heyoosh subscription costs $1.99, or 1.99 euros if you’re based in a EU country. 

From personal computing to dating apps

The story of Heyoosh began around three years ago, when Gil approached Bahar with an idea for an ethical dating app that would disrupt the industry.  

Bahar already has experience disrupting industries.

In 2014, Bahar and his Italian business partner Francesco (Franky) Imbesi established Keepod, having made successful careers providing information security and enterprise solutions to banks and telecom firms] 

The $7 dollar Keepod device enables people to share any old laptop, netbook or desktop with its hard drive removed. Each person simply plugs the device into the computer, and gets a PC with individual password-protected settings, programs and files.

Keepod founders Nissan Bahar, left, and Franky Imbesi in Cambodia, with a child wearing a Keepod device. Photo courtesy of Keepod
Keepod founders Nissan Bahar, left, and Franky Imbesi in Cambodia, with a child wearing a Keepod device. Photo courtesy of Keepod

Heyoosh was founded under the Keepod umbrella, with the majority of the funding coming from the parent company. It has no physical headquarters; its 15-strong staff is based all around the world. 

Silver lining

The app was supposed to launch last year, but that had to be postponed due to the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. 

Bahar says the delay allowed the team to keep perfecting the technology. 

“We scrapped the app version that was supposed to launch and rebuilt it around AI being the sole matchmaker,” he explains. 

When asked if people are actually ready to give up on Tinder, Bahar says: “Absolutely! The public is tired. That is the only reason we got into it.” 

Heyoosh is available worldwide on the App Store.

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