Do you dread the prospect of swiping through hundreds of faces and breaking your back carrying conversation only to find that you and your date have no chemistry? Spending hours getting ready and money that you don’t have on empty interactions? These scenarios make online dating draining and unappealing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Curtain is changing the game by “bringing face-to-face human interaction to dating in the digital age.”
This week I sat down with the team (VP of Marketing and Operations Lexi Strauss, CTO Benjamin Honig, and CEO Brenden Strauss (SPS ‘20)) behind the app.
How did you all meet?
The Strauss’ go way back and Ben met Brendan in a hot tub at a mutual friend’s place.
Who is Curtain? What do you do?
We provide a safe platform for people to express themselves unapologetically. We value authenticity and showcasing personality. Curtain is “the Jennifer Lawrence of dating apps”, as Lexi puts it.
Describe modern dating.
People are repeatedly misinterpreting each other. It's time consuming and ubiquitous. Modern dating is no longer confined by physical location, so it has become an overwhelming pool of infinite unfiltered options - a daunting task that we find ourselves constantly thinking about.
How did the idea for Curtain come about?
Curtain is the lovechild of Brenden’s online dating misfortunes and a conversation Ben had with some women at a party who expressed intense dissatisfaction with their inability to vet prospective dates via video call without forfeiting personal information.
How do you distinguish yourselves from other dating apps - the OkCupid, Hinge, and Tinders of the world?
We differ in our mission to “bring human interaction to the forefront of digital dating”, says Brendan. Most dating apps do not offer video chat functionality, and those that do are unable to match the level of safety and comfort that Curtain provides.
Talk about your audience - Is this a hookup app or am I coming here to find the love of my life?
Although we are still honing in on a specific market, as of now Curtain is geared towards people looking for steady, longer-term relationships.
What do you think is the trickiest part of your business? What unique challenges are you working through right now?
Brenden: Coming from a non-tech background, the hardest part of the process has been communicating with our back-end developers. Ben, who does come from a tech background, helps bridge the divide. But, being the person with a vision has encouraged me to expand my tech knowledge and actively ask informed and creative questions about the possibilities for our app.
What are you most looking forward to during the NYU Summer Launchpad? What are some highlights of the program thus far?
The mentors that we get to connect with through SLP have been the greatest highlight so far. We are looking forward to continuing our network expansion through the program!
What would you tell other NYU students who may be considering starting their own startups?
It's very important to build and maintain an expansive network of all kinds of people in various fields.
Lexi (who has an impressive entrepreneurial background): I recommend keeping a spreadsheet of everyone you meet because, for a startup to succeed, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Brenden: I advise students to spread their tentacles far and wide, to as many people as possible - the worst that somebody can say is no.
Please describe each of your team members in one word.
Lexi is described as passionate, Brenden as scrappy, and Ben as unfiltered and unapologetic “in the best way”.
The curtain crew loves love. “We’re making love happen” they tell me as we left the room.