When Sam Lurye asked out his now girlfriend on a first date, like any teenager, he was nerve wracked.
“I really wish my app was out when I wanted to ask her out [on a date],” said Lurye.
The 16-year-old high school junior is referring to his app, Kiss, that comes out for iOS on Valentine’s Day (Android is likely to be released this summer). It’s the first product of his company Social Synergy Media.
The app is a tech-savvy version of the old, crumpled paper note. You know, the one where you ask your crush to circle which of three guys she likes. In Kiss, app users can send their crush a request to rank three people (the user and two others) – keeping the admirer’s identity (semi) under wraps. She has the ability to then rate each guy from “no thanks to when’s the date,” said Lurye. “She’s not aware of which one of us sent it. Now I can go make my move if the result is positive. If it's negative, I can move on with my life without being bullied or made fun of at school,” he added.
In a nutshell: “Kiss is a mobile app that allows users to anonymously gauge their chances for a romantic relationship with people in their social circles,” said Lurye. He added that as high school students, “We spend so much time talking about [who we like].”
This app is a way to take non-embarrassing action on those feelings.
The High School Market
Lurye came up with the idea for the app when he was admitted into Endevvr, an entrepreneurial course for high school students. One of the pre-course tasks was to brainstorm ideas to solve. He asked around his high school and “eight out of ten of them said the same thing: I like this girl, but I don’t know if she likes me back,” said Lurye. He set about making a romantic app – he emphasized this is not Tinder for high school – that takes the awkwardness out of gauging someone’s romantic interest. Users can ues the app to find out if a girl might want to go to prom, or if the boy in English class might want to go to a movie, without the excruciating embarrassment of actually asking them in person.
For administrators or parents who might have misgivings about an app helping teenagers find love, Lurye would tell you his intentions are pure. “Considering what high schoolers are doing already, our app is a step in the right direction… We are bringing back old school romance. We are different from the trend now, we are trying to bring the sweet, emotional part back. Everyone likes to know that they are liked,” said Lurye.
First Lincoln Park High, then World Domination
Lurye beta-tested Kiss at Lincoln Park High School among his friends. He plans to launch the app on Valentine’s Day, and remembering what high school was like, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to think the app will get high usage on its first, very-emotionally charged day. Lurye says he’ll focus first on Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, following a time-old Chicago tradition of getting it right at home before expanding nationally.
But staying local at first doesn’t mean Lurye doesn’t have big ambitions: he sees a market for Kiss in Asia and Europe. “I think everybody has always felt some awkwardness, especially in their high school years and maybe even later, so I think this really transcends borders and could become a global app,” said Lurye.
High School Entrepreneur
Though Lurye went to Endevvr, a program dedicated to developing high school entrepreneurs, he says there aren’t a lot of options out there for students like him. “Students that were really interested in science could do groundbreaking internships… There were real world applications for all your interests, other than entrepreneurship,” said Lurye.
A true entrepreneur, Lurye found a way to follow his passions anyway.
He’s joined Catapult and goes there after school to work. The school day is busy too. A straight-A student, Lurye skips his lunch break with his friends to work. “I have to essentially take my lunch breaks to go to anything from developer meetings to interviews to investor meetings,” said Lurye.
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