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Turning haters into daters – the man behind Hater

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Twenty-nine-year old entrepreneur Brendan Alper spent five years working at global investment banking firm Goldman Sachs - and hated it. It was only after quitting the finance trade to become a comedy writer that he says he stumbled upon an idea that has changed his life and, he hopes, the lives of countless others. Hater- Alper’s new dating app, launched on Feb. 8.

“I was working on this sketch that I thought I would submit to Saturday Night Live about a dating app that would match people based on the things they hated,” Alper told me in a phone interview. “The comedy career didn’t last long. I kind of became obsessed with developing the app for real.”

While doing research on existing dating apps, Alper says he found a 2006 study which showed that people who hate and dislike the same things actually form more intimate bonds than people who with similar likes. “I thought maybe this is what online dating is missing,” he said.

Single at the time he began developing Hater, Alper says he explored nearly all existing dating apps and wasn’t happy with any of them.

“Everything seemed so lovey-dovey or it was just based completely on pictures and there was no personality involved,” Alper said. “I was pretty sure that when I created Hater, that it was one-of-a-kind.”

Hater is currently preloaded with more than 3,000 topics. The user can swipe on a topic in four ways, depending on how they feel about it.

“For example, you could swipe on ‘war,’ or ‘pickles,’ or ‘the zoo,’ or ‘The Grammys,’ or whatever you want to swipe on to show whether you hate, love, dislike or like them, and from there, we find the people with responses that are most compatible with yours,” said Alper.

The app requires users to have a Facebook profile. It then sets up a basic profile which users can customize. While Hater offers a broad range of topics for users to swipe on, some topics are considered off-limits.

“There is no hate-speech of any kind allowed,” Alper said. “There is nothing about racial or ethnic groups among the topics.”

Anticipating a first-week user total of 2,000, Alper says that Hater accumulated more than 200,000 downloads from users around the world in its first seven days.

“We certainly didn’t expect that kind of response, particularly internationally,” he said. “We’ve had a huge response overseas, from Latin America and from Europe – in countries where English isn’t even the primary language.”

Currently, Hater is available only in English and only in iOS, but Alper says that plans are in place to soon launch a version for Android and in multiple languages for all versions.

Alper told me that it has been gratifying to read dating success stories submitted by users of Hater. 

“We’ve received stories from a bunch of people who have gone on successful dates after they were matched by the app,” he said. “I received one yesterday from people who both really hated the Super Bowl but loved queso. They had their date on Super Bowl Sunday and he made her homemade queso and they watched a movie. There have been lots of success stories like that.” 

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