At 10,000 total users, Couply is reportedly growing at about 1,000 new users per week. The two men in charge of the Toronto-based operation, Tim Johnson and Denesh Raymond, tell Sidewalk Hustle how “a couple of dudes” are trying to make relationships better.
“There are plenty of apps to help people date, but there’s nothing like that for people in relationships,” said Johnson.
Johnson came up with the idea in 2019 after noticing the lack of support for couples in long-term relationships. He had been in a 10-year relationship, which ended amicably but was impactful, he said, and was now in a new relationship that was going well — he wanted to keep it that way.
While the idea was there, Johnson knew he needed someone with the technical skills to help build it. He pitched Couply to Raymond, a mobile developer of 10 years.
The two had worked together at one of Canada’s rising startups, Wattpad, a social storytelling platform for writers which recently sold for $600 million to the South Korean company, Naver. (Note: Johnson still works at Wattpad.)
“There’s Tinder, Bumble, Hinge — all of these apps help you get into a relationship — but I did my research and there aren’t any good players in the space after,” said Raymond, who felt Couply could “own this space.”
There are books, motivating quotes, and online quizzes, but how are they measured and applied to committed relationships? Johnson said he was surprised that technology was not being used to “continually furnish” couples with insights based on findings from these quizzes and resources.
“That was the genesis of how we wanted Couply to work: to help people understand themselves and understand their partner, but then also send relationship advice, gift suggestions, and date ideas based on a partner’s personality,” Johnson said. “We felt we could give a customized and personalized experience to couples by leveraging technology for good to help people, which is our overarching goal.”
“We live in such a tech world, and we want to enable couples to go out there and have fun without their phones,” Raymond said. Couples drawing is one activity partners can do together, for example.
Couply also has a “single-player mode” that allows users to keep their insights from their previous relationship while getting back in the dating pool.
Couply launched in Apple’s App Store in December 2020. People sign up using their email. Everything is optional to provide, including name, but they do hope people will use their real information so they can get the best out of the app.
Raymond said they are currently in the “understand phase” with Couply, now focusing on “1% gains per day” by running surveys and getting members’ feedback so “we are doing it the right way,” he said. They are making sure to get insight from females, from LGBTQ+, and people from different cultural backgrounds, as well as from the Toronto tech community.
“Couply looks the way it does because of the help we have received from the Toronto tech community,” Johnson said, who has been part of this scene for five years; Raymond for 10.
“After hitting a UX [user experience] roadblock, we called a friend who is ex-Shopify, ex-Wattpad, and she gave us two hours of her time to blast through and turn this problem into a feature which has allowed us to get ahead quicker than if we were doing it just by ourselves,” Johnson said.
The startup received $5,000 from Canada Starts, a joint campaign between Ownr by RBC Ventures, Shopify, Staples, and Moneris, which awards grants up to $5,000 to help Canadian entrepreneurs start their business.
Of the 1,266 startups at Collision 2021, 50 made it to the group rounds and then through to pitch to judges that included Salesforce Ventures’ Matt Garratt. Couply beat out SalesBeat, and Dondo in the final round.
“The focus right now is to grow the traction that we have. We want to build the app out, and based on member feedback be number one,” Johnson said.