Listen to Mutual Co-Founder Bob Carol and Marketing Director Tiah Westover talk about safety, updates, and tips on the It’s Just Dinner Podcast.
Tom: Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of the It’s Just Dinner Podcast. I’m your host, Tom Robinson, and with me and sitting right next to me is my co-host, Bob Walz.
Bob W: Right next to you, right here. Thanks, Tom, great to be here, again, as always. Good to see you’re looking good today.
Tom: Thank you, thank you.
Bob W: Thank you.
Tom: Hey, we had an event on Monday that we went to…
Bob W: A lot of fun.
Tom: And it was at the Varsity Theater here at BYU.
Bob W: Might I say, Tom, you were so funny. I mean, he was hilarious.
Tom: I was trying to be.
Bob W: I mean this guy… people say he looks like Steve Martin but he is Steve Martin. He was funnier than Steve Martin. That was a good joke.
Tom: I had them laughing.
Bob W: You had them laughing, you had them crying, it was all…
Tom: So big shout-out to the YSA 3rd Stake.
Bob W: They were great! They were great.
Tom: It was a great crowd. So thank you so much for having us.
Bob W: There were about 250 kids in that crowd. They filled the entire Varsity Theatre and it was rockin’.
Tom: It was rockin’ and it was a lot of fun.
Bob W: It was!
Tom: To all you third stakers out there, thanks for having us. It was a lot of fun. Hey, I’m excited about today’s episode. We have some really great guests.
Bob W: Yes!
Tom: We’re excited that you guys would come to see us. Across from me is Bob Carol who is the Co-Founder of the Mutual App. Welcome!
Bob C: Thank you! Happy to be here.
Tom: It’s so exciting to have you and right next to him is, since I’m an advertising person this is the more important person to me, is the Marketing Director of the Mutual App, Tiah Westover.
Tom: Welcome, Tiah.
Bob W: Welcome, Tiah.
Tiah: Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Bob W: Glad to have you here.
Tom: It’s so good to have you and I think you were taking your time to come see us and I know this is a huge market for you here at BYU.
Bob C: We have a few users in this geography.
Tom: You have a few users! I even had one young man go over his profile with the class the other day and have the girls in the class help him edit his profile, so these are big-time users here at BYU. But maybe, to get us started, I just was curious as to kind of the history of the Mutual app and how did it start, where did it start, and how did you determine the need for this? There’s a big need, but how did you work all that out?
Bob C: You know I was serving in a YSA bishopric in Arizona, in Tempe Arizona, we’d meet on campus at Arizona State University and, similar to the Provo area, there are YSA stakes in Phoenix.
Bob C: We have five YSA stakes and I had a ward member come up to me and said “hey, you know, I’ve got this business idea, and I asked the bishop who to go to who could execute on this, and he mentioned your name.” and I literally knew at that moment what he was going to say.
Bob C: And my wife and I were teaching a Celestial Relations class at the time and so we’d have a lot of post-class discussion about the, you know, kind of the availability of couples and how they could get together more easily and so we were matched up by our Bishop. We were the first Mutual match, Cooper and I.
Bob W and Tom: Wow!
Bob C: Yeah, so that was…
Tom: That’s Cooper Boyce, right?
Bob C: Cooper Boyce! Yeah! Groundbreaking. And so that was where it started, started in Tempe, and obviously with BYU being a huge market we did our first official launch event in July of 2016. We launched it in April of 2016.
Tiah: On the perfect date.
Bob C: On the perfect date! Yeah! April 26th, if you know the movie, Miss Congeniality, was when we launched it, and in July we threw a little rager at the King Henry Apartments.
Tom: Oh nice!
Bob C: Back on the back lawn.
Bob W: My daughter used to live there.
Bob C: We had DJs and all sorts of inflatable games and snowcones and things like that and we gave out tickets if you download the app and I think that evening we had about a thousand downloads that added to the user base, which was growing, so we wanted this BYU/Provo/Orem area population to seed the market, and we wanted, you know, being in a YSA ward at the time, one of the goals was: I want this the community on this app to look exactly like you’d see if you walked through any chapel.
Tom: Oh, yeah.
Bob C: You know, the names, the faces, and you’d swipe through it and, I’m literally, that’s what I feel like we have today.
Bob W: I think so. How many downloads do you have today?
Bob C: You know, we’ve had over a million accounts created.
Bob W: Wow! Wow! So, in six years, a little over six years, you’ve gone from a thousand on that first launch to more than a million.
Bob C: Yeah. It’s, you know…
Bob W: Wow! Is that just because of Tiah? Are you taking responsibility for that?
Tiah: You know, I wish I could!
Host: Oh, come on!
Tom: She’s done a great job with the marketing!
Bob W: Yeah, she has!
Bob C: She has!
Tom: So, this was kind of based on a need you saw. You saw a need and you took this action to fill a void.
Bob C: Cooper had just graduated from BYU, moved to Arizona, and said, “Wow, there’s less people here. I’m not walking on campus every day, how am I gonna solve my problem, which is ‘I need to find a spouse.’” So it was need-based, and at that time we said, you know, we could just do what some of the other dating apps that have just come out, that were replacing the dating websites, if we could do that for our own population, our own community, it would be fantastic.
Tom: Wow! What percentage are members of the church as compared to non-members?
Bob C: I would guess…
Tom: Just a guess.
Bob C: 99 plus percent.
Bob W: Okay. That’s good.
Bob C: Yeah, although, you know, we like to say “visitors welcome.”
Bob W: Right?
Tom: Of course!
Bob C: It’s posted on the front of every building and so we don’t hold back. It’s not exclusionary to prevent people or not activate their accounts. You know, we’ve even seen it as a bit of a missionary tool.
Bob C: And funny, quick, I’ll tell the story quick, but I was on the stand at a baptism on a Saturday. Our Bishop was out of town and said “Bob, could you step in?” and so I’m on the stand presiding there and the young lady gets baptized and comes back in afterward and I said “Would you like to say a few words?” and she said “Sure!” and I had been disconnected from the ward mission effort as far as this person went. She said “Well, you know, let me tell you my story. I had just broken up with a guy and I was working at a gym and I worked at the front counter checking in new customers and I worked with so-and-so,” who had just baptized her, and she said “I was distraught and he said ‘you know what you need? To download Mutual.’ he said ‘There’s great guys on there.’”
Tom: All right!
Bob C: “A bunch of Mormon boys that you’re going to love” and she said “I don’t know much about the church.” and he said, “Well, we can fix that.” So not only did he introduce her to Mutual, but to the missionaries, and within a few months, she was baptized.
Tom: Oh, that’s exciting!
Bob C: I’m on the stand, and obviously everybody in the ward knows what my affiliation is. She has zero knowledge.
Tom: That’s cool.
Bob C: And all eyes come on me and, you know, I go sheet red. But it was just a wonderful experience that I would have never anticipated.
Tom: That’s exciting!
Bob C: So it’s good to have, you know, no gates that are too high for individuals to get on if they have pure intent.
Bob W: Right. Now when you look at your demographics are you getting more females or males is it about split between the two?
Tiah: Yeah it’s pretty close to 50/50. I think we have slightly more men than women, which is interesting because it’s opposite of what the church is as far as the single population goes but we do, we have a few more men there.
Bob W: And then the age range?
Tiah: The majority of them are in Gen-Z so I think we’re looking at like 50% of our audience is Gen-Z and then we kind of… I think it’s 30-40% is Millennial and it trickles down the older it gets.
Bob W: So you know pretty much what your audience is: LDS, 50% male and female, and Gen-Z. So that’s a pretty good audience.
Bob C: It is great.
Bob W: Its good to identify your audience. So what do you do to market to that audience? What are your procedures that you do to get word out to get people to download your app?
Tiah: I think one of the first things, or, one of the most important things is word of mouth.
Bob W: Right.
Tiah: Everyone, everywhere we go, people are like, “Oh, you know, my sister, you know, she met her husband on mutual.”
Bob W: Yeah.
Tiah: That’s not marketing you can buy.
Tom: No, no.
Tiah: It’s just, it’s grassroots.
Tiah: It’s the result of an amazing product that has had great success and so a lot of times it is relying on those success stories. Our goal is to create eternal marriages and so when we have those, we try to capture the story and share them out because, you know, dating apps can be a little bit of a joke.
Tiah: Until all of a sudden you’re engaged.
Bob W: Until they’re not!
Tiah: Until they’re not!
Tom: So on Monday, when I mentioned this, we had a couple of groaners in the audience when I said Mutual. But they all have profiles.
Bob W: It’s one of those things that, you know, people like to say “Oh, you know, dating apps.”
Tom: Yeah, ugh.
Bob W: But people use them.
Tiah: Oh, for sure.
Bob W: I have three sons and they all used your app, you know, and none of them found their spouse that way, but they got a lot of dates that way. They found a lot of people they could connect with in the community and so it was a real value to them to be able to do that.
Bob C: And going back to the origin, at that time, 2015, 2016, there was a pervasive thought that dating was not happening, that it was a hangout culture.
Bob W: Oh, wow.
Tom: It’s still that way.
Bob C: You’d hear about it in conference talks, you’d hear about it in other ways, and so you know it was very intentional that we wanted dating to happen. Just like the mission of your podcast, right?
Bob W: Right.
Bob C: It’s just dinner. Hey, let’s not overthink this. And we saw first hand that that did change. I would be at a pizza place and run into somebody from the ward and they’d say “Hey, I just gotta tell ya, I went out on Monday night from Mutual, I’m going out tomorrow night.”
Bob C: “And I’m going out again this weekend.” And these were individuals who just… and… everybody is worth a date, right?
Tom: Oh, absolutely!
Bob C: And, because, you’ve got to respect everybody’s time and what their experiences are, and expanding your horizons, and for that… just to see the excitement through that. They said “I’m going on dates” was really reinforcing the fact that we hit the mark.
Bob W: Yeah. So, just so you know, we totally love what you guys do ‘cause it’s so in league…
Tom: 100%. 100%.
Bob W: With what we’re doing here so everybody out there if you haven’t downloaded Mutual…
Tom: Yeah, you need to be on it.
Bob W: Do it right now. Just pull out your phone right now and fill out your profile. What recommendations do you have for people when they’re filling out their profile? What are the… what does a…
Tom: This is a big deal. It’s such a big deal.
Bob W: Yes, it is.
Tom: Because a lot of people really just don’t know.
Tiah: Yeah, I think the thing is be yourself. Everyone’s not swiping for the same thing. They’re not looking for the same thing. When I first started at Mutual, one of the first projects I wanted to do was I wanted to look at the top, you know, 200 male and top 200 female, like, the most swiped profiles and I looked at the least swiped profiles and I ended up ditching the project because I was like… I was hoping to find actionable things and advice and I’m like “Oh, well, you know, if you’re tall, dark, and handsome, you’re going to get all the swipes.” Well, and that just wasn’t the case. It was, everyone was… some of the most swiped ones were ones that I was like “Oh, you’re, you know, I personally don’t find you that attractive,” and other one’s I’m like “Oh, I think you’re very attractive,” and so there’s really, there’s someone for everyone. It’s all heights, it’s all everything. It’s about being yourself, because you can only, you know, I’m from the south, we talk about hiding your crazy, you can only hide your crazy for so long, and so just be who you are!
Bob W: It’s gonna come out.
Bob C: I think being, you know, just being willing to have fun as well.
Bob C: And putting yourself out there.
Tom: That’s what this is all about.
Bob C: Yeah! We talked about It, it is a joke. We’re in on the joke. We know what it is and in a sense, sometimes that’s just to protect yourself, right? We’re all sensitive.
Tom: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Bob C: We’re built with emotions. We should have those, especially on the topic of love. I mean, that’s where you will get that roller coaster ride and there’s not anything like it. If you want the ultimate thrill, be willing to put your heart on the line and go on that ride and so you have to be able to have fun with it and not protect yourself so much by saying “Oh, it’s just a joke.”
Bob W: Oh yeah
Bob C: And just find that balance, right? And taking breaks is healthy, at times, right? But timing is everything too, you know. And we hear so many stories of “I just got back on,” you know, or “I just changed my age range,” and I sat down with a dear friend a month ago and he’s in my demographic, not in Tiah’s demographic. And you know he had set it at an age range that was his age and ten years below. And that was what he thought would be the right… what he was interested in and a little prompt came up from the mutual app that said “If you extend your age range by 2 years on the top end, you’ll match with X number more individuals.”
Bob C: And so he took that prompt… boom! and he matched, now three, four months into a relationship, we’re watching it, but just happy as could be.
Bob W: Very exciting.
Bob C: And he just didn’t know. And so it is a tool, you talk about your sons using it,
Bob W: Yeah
Bob C: We use tools. And it is merely a tool, right?
Tom: It is.
Bob W: Yeah.
Bob C: And it’s a tool you might want to have.
Tom: I liked what you said about being willing to put yourself out there and I think a lot of times kids, at least my experience has been they hide. And they hide in their apartment, in a lot of ways they expect the door to knock, and then there’ll be somebody that wants to date them. And I like this. It’s really simple to do, you create a profile and just put yourself out there and just see what happens because a lot of really good things could happen if you allow yourself to do that.
Bob C: Yeah, and I think that, you know, people ask, like, “Why a dating app as opposed to just in person?” Obviously, the reach is one.
Bob W: Oh, absolutely!
Bob C: We have the world’s largest singles ward.
Bob W: Oh, yeah!
Bob C: So that’s wonderful that you have that reach. But we are less comfortable, for whatever training we have these days, to go up and walk to an individual person to person, “My name is Bob, I’d like to introduce myself” and either express interest or just even try to break into a social conversation sometimes. But to swipe through somebody is a no-brainer.
Bob W: Right.
Bob C: Because we do it on all our other social media channels.
Tom: Yeah, we do.
Bob C: And so it’s much simpler to do that and I’m great with that. You know, we all, again, we have our set of insecurities we come with so how do we have a tool to get us around that? And I don’t mind you being in your apartment “hiding” but you know you can put yourself out there.
Bob C: While you’re still avoiding some of the discomfort, you may also find somebody who’s also a little less comfortable with that social environment that sometimes gets spun up at YSA wards. And people aren’t always looking for the same thing.
Tom: I have kids ask me all the time when I’m giving these presentations, “What do you think of dating apps?” or “What do you think of Mutual?” and I say “I love them. I think they’re great.” And especially if you’re using them to meet someone, to go to dinner, and to sit and talk, I love them. They can be abused, like anything else, but if that’s what you’re using them for, I absolutely think they’re the greatest thing in the world because like you said, all of a sudden my
arms reach out to a lot of people that I wouldn’t have had access to and I get to meet a lot more people, I get to make a lot more friends.
Bob W: A lot of times my students, when they’re married, I ask, “How did you meet?” And they kind of embarrassingly say “Well it was a dating app,” you know? Like it was something. But I’ve noticed over the years that it has become a lot less that way.
Bob C: Right.
Bob W: It’s becoming more and more common for people to meet their spouse on a dating app and so there’s not the stigma that there was probably even when you started this company five, six years ago.
Bob C: Absolutely.
Bob W: You’ve probably seen that too where this has become more normalized in our culture and really in U.S. culture of people meeting over an electronic device.
Bob C: Wedding research right now shows that it’s between sixty and seventy percent
Bob W: Really!
Bob C: Of people getting married have met their spouse.
Tom: Yeah Wow.
Bob W: I believe.
Bob W: So this really… the function of this really met what your objective was when you started this.
Bob C: Absolutely.
Bob W: That’s got to be rewarding.
Bob C: It is! We have plenty of work to do still!
Tom: I agree, we do too. That’s why you’re here. I was wondering this: I had some kids in my class earlier this week talking about you guys coming and they mentioned that your app has changed quite a bit. So can you tell us a little bit about that? Maybe Tiah, can you?
Tiah: Yeah! Absolutely!
Tom: Tell everybody listening how the app has changed.
Tiah: So we recently released a tab bar that, at the bottom, it’s easier to go through and you have different queues. So you have one queue that you can swipe through everyone. You can set your filters to whatever you want, but we also have this second queue you can kind of tab over to and it is all people who have already swiped up on you. And so it’s a guaranteed match every time. And so it’s the sort of thing where you can go through and it’s just like okay, yes, no, or now even have this like maybe, you can just… going to sit there for a little bit while you’re just… so, you know, I’m talking to this one person, let’s see where it goes. But, I kind of want to keep this person here just in case.
Bob W: Let it breathe a little.
Tiah: Let them be there because I’m not so sure. And so we kind of have these different tabs, and we just released rich profiles. And so people can go in and they can add additional photos in it and they add comments to it and say “Oh, when I was on my trip in Costa Rica- I love to travel,” and kind of get a little bit more context so that people have things to have conversations about.
Tom: I love it.
Tiah: We’re working to facilitate this genuine connection and so something, you know, I might not be able to say, but we have a release that’s coming soon where…
Bob W: Oh! Come on, let us know!
Tiah: Yeah, I’m just gonna share here.
Bob W: Release it here on the just dinner podcast!
Tom: Exclusive here!
Tiah: Yeah! But you’ll be able to respond directly to these rich profiles.
Bob W: Wow! Nice!
Tiah: So it’s the first of several rollouts so that instead of like, having to come up with a pickup line or be like “Hi.” Like, “Hi” is a great pickup line in person because you can have like, it starts a conversation.
Bob W: It does.
Tiah: But on a dating app it doesn’t start a conversation it’s just like, “Okay… And?”
Tom: That’s all you got?
Tiah: “That’s all you got for me? I’m gonna talk to the other guy who said, like, ‘Hi, how are you?’” you know? And so by having these conversation prompts where you can kind of go directly and comment and start the match from there, you can be like, “Oh, you know, I was in Costa Rica last year too. Did you see x, y, and z?” and then all of a sudden, it’s a more organic and natural conversation where people are able to facilitate this genuine connection and hopefully move it off-app, you know?
Tom: That’s great.
Tiah: Go to dinner!
Tom: Go to dinner!
Bob W: So let me understand what were you saying. One of the criticisms that some people say it’s just based on looks
Bob W: You know, but now what you’re saying is you’re going to base it on commonality
Bob W: So you can find somebody who might, that… you know… maybe the looks is the most important thing but the thing is they like the same things that you like.
Tiah: Yep. Exactly.
Bob W: Which is kind of what we normally do in regular face-to-face, you know, we initially use looks as a way to say if I want to talk to you, but it’s usually the things we have in common that brings us closer to that core relationship.
Bob W: And so you’re finding a way to facilitate that on the app.
Tiah: Looks are just a baseline here.
Tiah: You know, when you start seeing that personality, the connection can grow and you start seeing someone who, you know, might not have been truly attractive and then all of a sudden you’re like “Oh, like, hello! Like, I see you now.” I was talking to one of our coordinators earlier today and she was talking to some friends who met on the app and she’s like “I thought he was goofy and I almost didn’t swipe up on him. But he asked me out and we went out and I was like, wow, he’s amazing!” and…
Tom: That’s great.
Tiah: And she gave him a chance and now they are engaged and they’re going to get married later this year. That’s what it’s about.
Bob W: Well, see, I would be more interested in a marginally looking person who was a Dodgers fan than an incredibly attractive person who was a Diamondbacks fan.
Tiah: Go Braves!
Bob C: So we, you know, when we launched the app originally we had mission location and that became one of the conversations, you know. “Oh! I served there too!”
Bob C: Or “I traveled there. And there were prompts, but it was kind of very linear as far as how you’d follow that in your chat message, and so with what Tiah is describing, it’s much more interactive. It’s almost as you’re looking at somebody’s social media feed.
Bob W: Yeah.
Bob C: With multiple things to then engage in conversations off of either through commenting or liking or something like that.
Bob W: Right. I will tell you this, the students I talk to love the way you’ve changed the app.
Bob C: Good!
Bob W: They made positive comments in class the other day. They absolutely love it.
Bob C: Good, that’s great.
Tiah: That’s why we did it.
Bob C: We have a… I’ll just make a plug because, you know, sometimes these guys don’t get the credit, but we have a great team of developers.
Bob C: And my background is computer science so that was why I did get brought in with Cooper, and so hiring great engineers makes a big difference.
Bob W: Sure.
Bob C: Because you then set the standard and you say “How do we want this to look?” and even on initial design when we first launched the app, it was “We want every pixel.” It’s edge-to-edge image and that was different from what a lot of other dating apps were doing. And, again, not to focus on attraction but just design concepts.
Bob C: Good design with the right fonts and the right colors to enhance that with some of the metadata on it was really important. And so our dev team continues to, and our design team, continues to stay ahead of the trends to make sure that we’re giving a great user experience. Because there’s a lot of technology out there and, you know what? It’s no fun to use technology that isn’t great.
Tom: No, absolutely, absolutely. I do want to ask you, what’s the difference between Mutual and the other dating apps? Can you give us some idea about that?
Bob C: Well..
Tom: In particular, I know the one that’s gotten popular around here is Hinge.
Bob C: Sure.
Tom: It’s gotten really popular in this area. So give me a little promo here. How are you different than all those other ones that kids might be using?
Bob C: So, I’ll take a stab at it, and then Tiah, we’ll tag team on this one.
Bob C: Well, first of all, there can only be one number one dating app.
Tom: That’s right.
Bob C: For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And Mutual is it. We found out today that actually, that could be substantiated because last night in Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue, going through Valentine’s Day and good ways to meet people, he actually highlighted Mutual as a dating app for Mormons.
Bob W: Really? Wow!
Tom: So you were on Jimmy Kimmel and the It’s Just Dinner Podcast
Bob C: I know!
Bob W: This has got to be the biggest thing that ever happened in your life!
Tiah: This is!
Bob C: We started small yesterday. The crescendo is today.
Bob W: It’s just kinda building up here. Jimmy called us and told us about that last night.
Bob C: So, obviously, he didn’t swipe through the app store and find the number three or number four dating apps.
Tom: No, absolutely. That’s great.
Bob C: That was a fun plug that we had there. But I think that, you know, the other difference is the curated community. And when we talked about this, so much when we started this, we have to be protective. And I grew up a Dodger fan.
Bob W: Yeah.
Bob C: Orange County.
Bob W: I knew I liked you.
Tom: I did too, I have to admit.
Bob C: For some people, it was because it was the only thing that was on the radio.
Tom: It’s the only thing we had.
Bob C: Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett. But, so, you know, I used to bring guys that I played basketball with in high school and sometimes, if you need a court, right, the courts at the Stake Center. And certain times it was like, you know, “Guys, we don’t say that here. That’s off-limits.” And you define the community standard. They’re like “Oh! Oh! I’m so sorry!” Because it’s a great court.
Bob W: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Bob C: And they want to be invited back. And then you just set the tone and we had to do that. But you have to stay on top of it, right? Because if you don’t monitor it, then you lose it. And I wanted that community, like I said, to look exactly like our YSA wards. And so we have a curated community.
Bob C: We have a protected community and we spend an immense amount of technology dollars on the back end for what we can automate to prevent things, bad things, from happening. And then just the manual efforts of our support team and go through and review all the profiles and review, in case somebody, other users of the community, report somebody saying “That was a foul,” you know, “that was not… that wasn’t cool.”
Bob C: What that person said or did, and then we take…
Tom: Do you get a lot of that?
Bob C: No, no, it’s minor. You know, I talked about how many accounts have been created and, you know, if you take anything that might appear to be grievous, I mean, I can count on a hand, my hands. And so we don’t get a lot of it but we do get a lot of it at the lower level. It’s like sifting, you know?
Bob C: And so if you sift it out at the smaller level I think it prevents worse things happening.
Bob W: Yeah.
Bob C: To a greater audience.
Tom: I did want to get into safety but I did want to find out about Hinge really quick and…
Bob C: Yeah, yeah, please, please.
Tom: And so, I mean, how do you… how do you compare with some of these other ones that are trying really hard to get into your market?
Tiah: Yeah so our goal is to create eternal marriages. We hope you meet on Mutual. Wherever you meet though, we’re happy with it. On average it’s two or… most people have two or three dating apps on their phone.
Bob W: Right.
Tiah: At any given time. As long as Mutual’s one of them, great! You can meet the same person on Tinder and Hinge and Bumble and Mutual and the way they behave on the date depends on which one you are engaging them with.
Tom: That’s true.
Tiah: And so if you’re meeting someone on Tinder, they’re probably looking to hook up with you. And there’s just the knowledge in this like agreement there that okay this is how we’re going to behave. We kind of know the rules of play and etiquette around this because of where we met. When you meet at Mutual, you know that it has different intents. You know that you’re going to behave differently than you would on different apps.
Bob C: And we don’t mean to not have fun.
Tiah: No! Yeah!
Bob C: We want to have a LOT of fun.
Bob W: A LOT of fun.
Bob C: A LOT of good, clean fun, and the intent is really important.
Bob W: So, so generally your user experience is that when they go on your date, they’re… when they go on a Tinder date, some of my kids had some very bad experiences because there is kind of that expectation. This… hook up. And so they don’t know what they’re getting into. But
they had confidence in Mutual that the people they were going to meet there were not interested in hooking up, just in developing a relationship.
Bob C: There’s a place for Tinder, there’s a place for Hinge, Bumble…
Bob W: Sure.
Bob C: They have their spot. And so obviously, we filled a need and will continue to focus on that.
Bob W: Right.
Tom: Let’s go over to safety really quick. Because I know a lot of the young women, and some of the young men, have some concerns about safety, stalking, all of a sudden somebody turning out to not be who they said they were… I mean I know you guys have taken some really strong measures to protect people. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Bob C: Sure. One is verifications. What we’ve done is manually verify, through photos, that the person is the same image of the person that they…
Bob C: That they are in their profile photos. So if you want to catfish somebody, you just take somebody, some good-looking guy… Not me!
Bob C: You build a profile, and then through the profile verification, it says great, now turn on your camera, take a picture with a Book of Mormon, take a picture showing a scout sign, you know, we have a few different queues that are in there, and now upload that, and now we have a visual match. And so we can visually match whether it’s the same image of the same individual.
Tiah: And that’s done by humans on our support team.
Tom: That’s great.
Bob W: Wow! Okay.
Tiah: That’s not done by a computer. We want to keep it with people so that it’s not something you can easily trick. We can see those differences so there’s that layer of safety.
Bob C: So real accounts, you know, account validation is huge for us. The second one then is “Are people well-intended?” you know? And I remember the first time after the Mutual launch and the bishop of the ward that I was his first counselor, you know, came up to me and said “Hey, you know, this instance came up and they said they met on your app,” you know? It’s kind of like, the straw that broke the camel’s back, the final aha moment for him that, yeah, this thing must be bad, right?
Bob C: And I said, “Yeah, probably, they could have.”
Bob W: Right.
Bob C: Just as they could have met on Sunday.
Bob W: Right.
Bob C: In Sacrament or…
Bob W: The supermarket or… Yeah.
Bob C: Or anywhere else. And he’s like, “Oh, I guess you’re right.” So I think we do want to have well-intended individuals. And so, I think Tiah mentioned, you know, about setting the tone and what the intention is, and then how do you find out if somebody is poorly intended? So we do have some back-end automation that we do…
Bob C: That can look at that. But it’s largely dependent on the community to report and so sometimes, you know, I’ll get a Monday night FHE story, “Hey, you know, Brother Carroll,” as I would be called there, “You know this happened to me,” and my first question is “Did you report that person?” “Well, yeah, you know, uhh..” No, no, no. So we’ve really tried to reinforce the message of “It’s okay to report.” We hold all of that privacy, you know, in the highest regard, but we need to know if somebody’s doing something. And so you can find predatory behaviors…
Bob C: Pretty easily through repetition and through even, you know, what they might be asking for and some, you know… my appeal to an audience would be: don’t just… you know, it if you saw it, say it, type of thing. Don’t just let that person know they’re not acting appropriately, let us know.
Bob C: Because you’ve said that, well, they’re going to go on to the next person and they’re going to say the same thing.
Tom: Oh, yeah.
Bob C: And yeah so somebody can say things that are very inappropriate and that sense of anonymity, even though there’s no anonymity, but that sense of being online…
Bob W: Oh, yeah.
Bob C: And what we think of online with anonymity is people’s guards are down. And so we’ll try to reinforce that message as much as possible that you are a known entity. You are a person and, you know what? The guidelines apply.
Tom: Right. Tiah, what advice do you have for the young ladies once they’ve accepted a date…
Tom: on mutual, to be safe and to make sure they’re being very cautious of what’s going on?
Tiah: Yeah, I guess my advice would actually be first, well both parties but primarily men, is respect each other. You know, I think there’s a big importance of respect. There’s a reason safety is a concern of women.
Tiah: And it all starts with respect. It all kind of comes back to that. If someone says no, to anything, respect that. You know, a lot of times we falsely praise persistence in dating and it’s like, oh, no, she meant no. And if she changes her mind, then she can say yes. And then it’s okay. But it doesn’t mean, oh, talk me into it. It means no for now and let that be. And then when it comes to the ladies and preparing and being safe, I mean, take the advice of Jacob “Oh be wise,” you know? “what can I say more?”
Tom: Yeah, that’s good.
Tiah: Like, it’s probably not the best place to meet him on a first date is in his bedroom! Probably the best place to meet him on a first date is not a remote hike!
Bob W: No!
Tom: You know we had somebody do that.
Tiah: Yeah! And it feels like…
Bob C: And it could be okay.
Tiah: And it could be okay!
Bob C: It could turn out and be fine.
Tiah: It could totally be fine, but when you’re, meeting a stranger. And we hope that and we’re working to keep our communities safe, but you don’t know what their intentions are, so be smart. Meet somewhere public. You know, we recently launched another app called mutualDates and it is a marketplace and it’s a gallery of dates and it is intended for this audience so that you can go and have fun options and great dates in safe and public places. And that’s what I would recommend.
Tom: Bob and I have talked many times about when you accept the date, a first date, drive separately.
Tom: Go to a restaurant, sit down and have dinner, and then get back in your car and go home.
Tom: And so it’s a lot safer at least… so you can kind of check out what the situation is and what the person’s like in person.
Tiah: RIght. You have a lot of opportunities to educate and prepare yourself for any moment of safety.
Tiah: Not just in dating. But like in general, being safe. So part of that is like, on a spiritual level, are you learning how to listen to the spirit? Because when you’re with someone who is uncomfortable and you’re uncomfortable, you begin to understand those promptings.
Tom: That’s great advice. I was just telling the kids in class the other day: you sit across from somebody, having dinner, the spirit will tell you. Just listen and the spirit will tell you whether or not this is a good situation that you’re in. So I firmly believe what you just said.
Bob W: But I’m interested in your new product, mutualDates…
Tom: Yeah, tell us about it.
Bob W: And so tell us about it. I haven’t heard of that before. What’s… how does that work?
Tiah: So you know this actually launched last year and it kind of stemmed from this beautiful problem we have. You know, we mentioned that dating apps can be a little bit of a joke until they’re not, and then we get our most loyal customers right as they’re leaving us. We’re like, okay, how can we serve this audience that is super thrilled to be part of our Mutual community but their spouse doesn’t want them on mutual anymore at that point, you know? So we have mutualDates and part of creating eternal marriages are marriages that last. And part of that is once you’re married, you continue dating. Continue going to dinner.
Tom: Right, right.
Tiah: And so how do you not stay in a dating rut? We have an app here that has experiences, currently, it’s just in Utah, but it, you know, take a pottery class together, we have an exclusive discount for you to make this possible. You know, go rock climbing, you can go to dinner, and there’s some options there as well.
Bob C: And the deals are all centered around couples.
Tiah: Everything is priced for two.
Tom: Very smart. Very smart.
Bob W: Yeah, that’s great. I hope that goes well. And you’re just kind of launching this now, test marketing it here in Utah.
Tiah: Exactly, yeah.
Bob W: So this is aimed more at Couples
Bob W: Married or people who have become exclusive and are looking for ideas of things that they can do to keep the candle lit.
Tiah: Exactly. So it kind of has two purposes. One is the safety purposes we are talking about so for those who aren’t exclusive couples, having those safe opportunities. The other is aimed absolutely at these couples forming and strengthening their marriages and their relationships.
Tom: That’s great. That’s great.
Bob C: You can get two shakes at Burger Supreme for a great price.
Tiah: Yes! $4! $4! Cheap date!
Tom: That’s a great dinner.
Bob W: So download the app. So download the app and you get a discount at Burger Supreme?
Bob C: Absolutely. It’s a feature built into Mutual. However, if you’re married, you don’t want to be on Mutual so we have a standalone app for it. You know, rock climbing at discounts, pottery, tacos…
Tom: Wow, I love that.
Bob C: crepes, just download and you’ll see all of them.
Bob W: Dating for less. My wife is gonna be all over this.
Tiah: And there’s some crazy fun experiences. You know, you can go get a fish pedicure, you can go ax throwing, you can go…
Bob C: Reflexology
Tiah: Yeah, I’m probably the number one purchaser of that, the reflexology.
Bob C: Obviously the haunted houses and corn mazes were huge…
Bob W: Oh, I can imagine.
Bob C: In October for us.
Tom: Yeah, I bet so.
Bob C: And again, doing it at a discount, saving a few bucks, having an idea of something to go do, and as Tiah said in a safe public place.
Tom: So what advice would you have for people who are listening who don’t have the app? The regular Mutual app. These single folks that are out there, what is the last piece of advice to convince them to get on the app?
Bob C: I feel like I grew up with my plan. I had a plan and, you know, it charted out as far as who I’d marry, right? I went to EFY, I wrote down the top ten traits that I would find in my future spouse, and that was who I was looking for, and I figured that, you know, as I graduated from college, that was now the time. And my spouse was not that. The path to her was not the path that had been in my mind and, I’ll just say, but it was always God’s plan. Always God’s plan for Natalie and myself to be married. And so you kind of have to get out of the way. And part of getting out of the way is if you aren’t trying everything, you know, and if you aren’t focused on a goal, you know, that we think is a worthy goal to have in life, that’s going to be life-changing. You know, as we tell people in the Celestial Relations class, you will make more money. There are temporal… there is research that shows how life changes temporally as you get married compared to singles, and then spiritually as well. And so let the tools work for you. You know you may think it’s a joke or it’s, you know, or even as you download it, you know, “I made a joke of it when I downloaded it,” right? “My roommate made me do it” or “they created my profile” just realize, it’s just part of the directory, you know?
Bob W: That’s a really good point.
Bob C: You’re just saying, “I’m here, and I’m single, this is my place on Earth,” right? You have your other social media accounts. You’re this on Instagram, you’re that on Facebook, etc. Well, and you’re this on Mutual until you’re not anymore. Put it out there and then and then just use it.
Tom: I love that.
Bob C: And the time. Because you don’t know what your timing is either.
Tom: Yeah, no.
Bob C: I got sideswiped on a just dinner. I took out a friend that I needed to get to know better and I just said “let’s just go to dinner” we went to a cafe on PCH and next thing I knew, I was asking her back over two nights later. I had no idea, NO idea, that it would ever progress to that, It was not a date.
Tom: That’s how good It’s Just Dinner is.
Bob W: I love that. Now, Tiah, what would you add to that?
Tiah: Yeah, I think it’s like most things in life. You get out what you put into it. We have about an average 50 million matches a year.
Bob W: Wow!
Tiah: Well, matching is not the issue. People are saying “we’re not getting matches” oh, well, you know, people are swiping up on you so you need to swipe up more. So first off, if you’re not getting a match, it’s not other people, it’s you. So swipe up! If you’re not getting relationships by that, are you sending a message to those matches? Are you responding to those who are reaching out to you? You know, are you taking the time to invest in it and get something out? We heard a story not too long ago. Someone was traveling and was swiping at the Chicago airport. She swiped. It was the only chance. She was swiping for an hour. It was the only time that she would have ever met her now-husband.
Tiah: And it’s because she took the time to do it and then she responded. You know, if you don’t respond, you’re not going to get anything. If you don’t reach out and make the first move, nothing’s going to happen from it. And so it’s taking that opportunity to use the app. You know, we have video chat. You know, if you’re doing long-distance, video chat on the app. There’s so many options and so many opportunities to engage.
Tom: That’s great
Tiah: And so you’re going to get out what you’re putting in.
Tom: That’s such good advice.
Bob W: That’s good advice, yes it is.
Tom; Yeah, just swipe up!
Tiah: Yeah! Exactly!
Tom: Yeah just swipe up. So great. So… well, thank you! We’ve run out of time. This went so quick. You’ve been great.
Bob W: It’s been great and amazing. We learned a lot.
Tiah: Thanks for having us.
Tom: Thank you so much for being here. This was just fabulous. Just a reminder this is Bob Carol, the Co-Founder of Mutual App, and Tiah Westover, the Marketing Director. I saw her get a promotion right at the beginning.
Bob W: Yeah, I know.
Tom: And they are Mutual App and I would recommend everyone download the app. And if you’re not on the app, please download it. Start using it. If you are on the app, she just said it, swipe up more and just be able to go out to dinner and that would be great. So, Bob, thanks for hosting with me today.
Bob W: Tom, I think you would agree that having them on our show is the biggest event that has ever happened in the history…
Tom: It is huge
Bob W: Of It’s Just Dinner Podcast. This is an historic day.
Tom: This is great. Hey if you’re listening, be sure to send us a review and if you have any questions you can always email me at itsjustdinnerYSA@gmail.com. Thank you guys again for being here. Lauren, thank you for being at the helm. I really appreciate your work. And hey! Everyone just go have fun out there, will ya?