Modern dating apps are often draining, sucking the fun out of the thrilling experience that finding a partner should be. Amidst the craze of hookup culture, it’s hard for those of us looking for a real relationship to find someone that isn’t just in search of a fun night. Luckily, we’ve found the perfect app that is based all around fostering positive relationships – its not a dating app, it’s the relationship app – Official.
Make things official with Official, the app that nurtures positive relationships no matter what stage of dating you’re in. Via the app, users have the choice to swipe “Yay” or “Nay” to differing date ideas. To “match” with a partner, you both have to choose “Yay” for a specific date idea. Once matched up, you can plan a date immediately, or you can come back to your match later.
Official encompasses an array of features for partners to build and cultivate positive relationships. From well-needed daily check-ins, a personalized intimacy section, a shared notes folder, countdowns to special events and the opportunity to earn points through practicing healthy relationship habits, Official encompasses all of the tools that you need to cultivate a strong, open partnership.
Official was founded by Zac Stern, business expert and graduate from NYU’s Stern School of Business. Interning with a selection of startup companies throughout his college years, Zac knew that he was interested in this realm of business ventures. Working as a VC his senior year at Stern, he worked his way up to become an associate just in time for his graduation in 2020. Diving into other projects, Zac knew that he wanted to begin his own development in the realm of dating apps, which birthed Official.
Created to encourage healthy relationships, Zac built Official around the next-generation model of social media and apps. The app has continuously gained widespread acclaim, becoming viral on TikTok, and rising to the #5 placement atop the US on Apple’s Lifestyle Charts.
360 Magazine had the opportunity to chat with Zac regarding the app’s inspiration, its various features and why you should start dating on Official.
What inspired you to create Official app?
While working in VC, I analyzed the business models of everything from jetpacks to cancer research; dating apps somehow fall within that range. When looking at a business, you learn that you want to keep your customer. This may seem relatively obvious, but not when it comes to dating apps. Dating apps are an interesting business because they lose their customers when they do their job correctly. But, the same thing happens when they do their job poorly, or when an outside force accomplishes their “goal.” So, from a financial perspective, I realized that it made more sense to focus on helping people stay together because the longer they are together, the longer they want to be our customers. Official switched the incentive so that when our users are happy in their relationship, we win, and if our users struggle in their relationship, we lose.
On the personal side, I was dating someone long-distance at the beginning of 2019 while still in school and studying abroad. I was in London; she was in NYC. I met her two weeks before I left to study abroad, so we started our relationship with many calls, texts, and facetimes. To remember everything, I made a note on my phone about her, another note about her family, Instagram-saved things to do in the future, and pinned every future date spot on my phone’s map. While tedious, this was the only option I thought of. I knew there had to be an easier way. Many of my friends were in relationships, and I noticed everyone wanted to be the “perfect” couple: the couple that had the best dates, cutest photos, and best sex. All of these things happening led me to the idea of Official.
Walk us through the different features available to the couples who join Official.
Official’s goal is to help couples through promoting self-discovery and enhancing communication between partners. We do this because we know how important it is to communicate with your partner and help you find and experience new activities.
As Aron et al says it best in ‘The self-expansion model and optimal relationship development’, “According to self-expansion theory, engaging in activities with a romantic partner that broaden one’s sense of self and perspective of the world (e.g., novel, exciting, interesting, and challenging activities) can reignite feelings of exhilaration and passion reminiscent of when couples first fell in love.” We wanted to create this sense with the Official.
Within the app, we allow couples to check in with each other in multiple ways that promote conversation both on and off the app. We let our users tell their partner how they are feeling, guess how their partner is feeling, and tell their partner they are in the mood.
Official also allows you to discover more things around you to try with your partner from a literal sense like restaurants, concerts, or events, but also at home dates or things to try in the bedroom. We let our couples swipe left for no, right for yes, or up in the intimacy section for maybe, and this creates an opt-in process to indicate what each person wants to do. While it’s simple, it lets couples discover new things that they both want to do.
We also let couples share their dates and experiences privately or publicly. Users post memories within the app to remember what they do with their partner. By posting publicly, couples can show off that crazy exciting or unique date that they did. Official is a community of people who love love; we want to encourage everyone to have the best relationship.
One of the most important things is that we don’t try to make couples feel like they can only communicate on the app. I firmly believe that Official can be an excellent catalyst for communication, but should not be the only way you communicate.
Is there any exclusivity on the app for members? Such as first access to tickets/events/reservations?
We partner with some of the best companies in the world that provide incredible experiences anywhere. We let our users access exclusive discounts on events and experiences near them. We also allow them to 50% off almost any sex toy from our partners. We believe in creating value for each user, which we will continue to do.
What is your biggest tip for couples to stay consistent on the app, planning dates, etc.?
The biggest tip I have is to complete the Daily Question every day. It’s a quick feature, but the value it brings to relationships is massive. We ask you and your partner a new question every day, and if you both answer it, you can see each other’s answers. Our goal is to spark new conversations and let you discover something new about your partner or yourself that you may not have thought to bring up.
I highly recommend the Intimacy Section to have the most fun and check out the craziest sex positions you will ever see… I am still baffled at how some of these are possible.
Do you plan on adding any additional features to the app?
I probably come up with a new feature a week, much to my team’s dismay. There are so many things to come on Official. Our random date generator will plan a date for you using machine learning to understand preferences. We are still in prototype, but I cannot wait until it’s ready for release.
Do you have any tips for readers who may be interested in your app now that they’ve heard of it but are new to this type of app?
Dive in; it’s easy. On Official, you can do anything, but you don’t have to do everything. Use what you think is interesting, and ignore what you don’t. We understand that people communicate in different ways, and that’s why we have an eclectic mix of features to suit any communication style or relationship. I don’t expect every user to use every feature; I just want every user to find value on Official.
What is your favorite feature on the app?
Most likely, it would have to be the In the Mood feature. It is such a unique feature that when I first told people about the idea, they thought I was crazy. We refer to it internally as the “I’m horny button.” The button allows a user to say that they are in the mood, and if their partner hits the button within 12 hours, we send them a notification and let them do whatever their hearts desire. If one hits it and the other doesn’t, we say nothing because we want to promote double opt-in.
What’s next for Official?
This is perhaps my favorite question because I don’t fully know. I have many ideas and ways to take the company, but we will follow what our users want.
I always like to say that we are the first relationship media company. Our focus is couples, but many divergent markets touch relationships, creating the opportunity for Official to expand. My goal is to grow Official to help any relationship you have, whether it’s with your partner, family, friends, or even yourself; Official will be the defacto platform for any relationship in five years. I have a few ideas on how to get there, but I can’t give it all away just yet.