Social network Ask.fm has caused a torrent of controversy over the years, thanks to the behavior of some of its users. Consequently, the Q&A site found itself at the heart of a cyberbullying exposé after the apparent suicide of several of its teen users, with calls for tighter safety controls.
Since their platform was acquired by IAC in 2014, Ask.fm’s founders have focused on launching their startup builder Balaclava Lab. Now, brothers Ilja and Mark Terebin, along with fellow co-founder Oskar Liepins, are pouring $1 million into dating app Mint.
Launched in December by former Ask.fm web designer Klavs Sinka, Mint’s location-based, Facebook-activated dating service, like so many similar apps, looks like a Tinder replica. Its touted unique feature, the ability for users to message one another regardless of a match, also isn’t all that unique since it’s already available on OkCupid. Nonetheless, the app has shown some potential, attracting a sizable audience outside of the U.S.
Mint currently boasts 100,000 downloads of its free iOS app, an Android version is currently in the works. Although the majority of its users are currently limited to a handful of countries (including Canada, Australia, Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Sweden), its new backers are eyeing its expansion as they get ready to do battle with their rivals.
“There are only few apps we count as our serious competitors: Tinder, Badoo, and Happn. The rest are almost dead or never been alive,” Ilja Terebin told TechCrunch. “We think there are a lot of opportunities for Mint. We know how to make simple and nice products which work, so we plan to bite off a large piece of the dating pie.”
Despite promoting it as a “simple” app, users should be warned that an open platform isn’t always the best option for everyone, especially when it comes to dating services. If you’re okay with absolutely anyone hitting on you, in the weird and wonderful ways people do on dating services, then Mint could be your new favorite app. If the idea of a complete stranger being able to message you their explicit intentions repulses you, then perhaps it’s best to steer clear.
For those users that are confronted with unruly behavior, you have the option to flag any abuse or content by contacting Mint, or reporting a user directly by clicking the ‘report’ button on their profile.
Mint also offers premium features, which can be bought using monthly subscriptions, including “Unlock Admirers” (the ability to see the people who liked you) for $2.99 per month, and “Unlimited Chats” (the ability to start an unlimited number of chats) for $6.99 per month.
The trio of Ask.fm founders describe Balaclava Lab as a project that will help them invest their own funds into new startups, with several undisclosed products in the pipeline.