Usually, when we swipe right the end goal is a romantic encounter, but when Jacob Catalano swipes right on Tinder, he's looking instead for people to test out his new app.
Catalano, a 21-year-old Toronto app developer, used his Tinder matches as a sort of focus group to give him feedback while building out Peek, a new app that helps you find interesting content and celebs on Snapchat.
He messaged thousands of girls on Tinder with the opening line "Do you have an iPhone and do you use Snapchat?"
Admittedly, most people didn't respond. Occasionally he got reported for spam, unmatched or called out for being "shameless" and self-promoting. But he also got a lot of great feedback, like that the design was confusing or that it was too hard to find people to follow in Peek if you didn't already know their Snapchat name.
"This one girl gave me the most nuanced feedback about the menu design and the brightness of screen," said Catalano. "I told her that people pay for that kind of high-quality feedback."
Catalano has been using Tinder since 2013, and early on he caught on to its utility for more than just dating. His first pitch, for a startup that allowed users to sell their own personal data the way companies like Facebook do, didn't pass the Tinder test. But when he had users try out Peek, he got a pretty good response.
"Tinder is great for validating an idea. A lot of time it's better than talking to your friends, because they give you biased feedback," he told me. "It is a little biased, because I'm only talking to girls in my age range, but for what I'm building, it works."
In other words, if the cute girls of Tinder are into Peek, there is probably a decent chance of what business school-types would call product-market fit.
"This is legitimately a very, very effective way to test an app," he said. "I think more people should try it."
Catalano also uses Tinder for dating. He said that he swipes right on everyone, to improve both his pool of potential dates and his pool of app testers. He keeps his business pool separate from his pleasure pool, though. He's found it's easier not to mix the two.
After a few weeks in the iTunes store, Peek has gotten downloaded close to 10,000 times. Catalano told me he actually thinks Tinder might be better for app development than dating.
"I'm much more of a fan of going to a bar with friends and meeting girls that way," he said. "It's much more straightforward."