Friendly App

Make new


Embarking into the hectic world of entrepreneurship

Acquired - Sept 2021

My first solo venture into the world of entrepreneurship took place during my time at Atlassian, while I was travelling back and forth from the Vietnam office and building the JIRA app. During my time in Vietnam, I realised the only way of connecting with fellow expats was through dating apps, which wasn’t right for me. 

I created a Kickstarter campaign to seek funding for the project and to see if it was an idea that people were excited about. Having secured funding, I sourced two developers to join the team. From there we focussed on launching our Version 1, which was released 6 months later. 

Initially we trialled a focus on “events in your area” but found this approach ineffective. The app attracted many introverted types and as a result not many users came forth to host events. Next, we decided to pivot to a basic social platform, connecting people based on mutual interests. We applied an advanced matchmaking system to source high compatibility pairings. 

The app was successful in building a loyal following in Australia, however I soon realised how much funding it takes to make a social app go viral. Ultimately, I decided to let the app grow organically. Meanwhile, it also brought in a very healthy stream of revenue. In September 2021, the app was acquired by a Canadian dating app company looking to merge their app with our ecosystem to utilise our very effective matchmaking algorithms for their user base. 


  • Branding
  • Native iOS app
  • Website
  • Marketing


  • Adobe AI (Brand)
  • Adobe AE (Animation)
  • Figma (UI)
  • Miro (UX)
  • Maze (Testing)
  • Hangouts (Interviews)


A friendly & gender inclusive brand.

Making friends online is a very new and somewhat peculiar concept to some people, particularly males. Our brand developed from a much more feminine look to something more gender neutral to better appeal to our demographic. 

Illustration style & animation

I wanted motion to play a big part in the app, so to make this possible I opted for a flat style with our brand colours in lighter and darker shades. I used purple instead of naturalistic skin tones to make the app feel inclusive to all. 


I wore my PM hat very much in this role, engaging my developers in sprint planning, as well as identifying the biggest impact-versus-development-cost for our Version 1 release. Although the prototype was tested in detail, we also set up event tracking and split tracking of the main features to test our first release from the get-go.  

Product Design


An optimised onboarding experience

Based on user feedback, the greatest challenge we faced in the market was the pre-existing stigma of high-commitment onboarding processes culminating in paywalls. We needed to simplify our 6-step process, although we also didn’t want empty profiles landing on our home screen. We optimised the experience so that only 3 steps were required, which significantly decreased drop-off.  


Finished registration


Versions tested

Home & Matches

Smart user discovery with less clicks

The home page and matches page went through many iterations in order to simplify and reduce the cognition and clicks required to find the right users. Initially we sorted matches based on location, but quickly found that this resulted in many inactive users being suggested first, and therefore to a higher bounce rate for the new users. Instead, it was imperative for new users to start conversations on their first day. I created a points system that combined the variables of time since last online, match percentage, and distance away, to create a default sorting option that outperformed the previous options almost fourfold. 


Day one connections


Requests actioned


Quality over quantity. Smart matchmaking

Our matchmaking process is where the magic happens and our algorithms kick in to improve recommendations throughout the app. At the start, matchmaking was part of the registration flow, but we progressed to using a “matches” tab to reduce the amount of time it took for users to start accessing the service. We tweaked the questionnaire and looked strategically at specific answer combinations, to the point where 70% of our user respondents reported that they actually had something in common with their matches. 


Match success


Algorithm releases

Paid Membership

Making the “Freemium” model work

Friendly went live as a completely free service. On Version 3, we released a “freemium” model based on matches, which we discovered was the greatest selling point for our app. We wanted our users to have a free taste of their potential matches first, hence the “freemium” approach, which offered a premium service according to the Tinder model once users had spent a certain amount of time on the app in one sitting. This model also increased stickiness for those users who decided to remain free. To make our premium offering more appealing, we added features such as “Who’s viewed you” and “Profile boosts” that were also accompanied by a time-limited free option.  

Use Profiles

Rich profiles for stronger friendships

There are two main influences on our choice of prospective friends: individual factors and environmental factors. Individual factors include approachability, social skills, self-disclosure, similarity, and emotional closeness. Environmental factors, on the other hand, include proximity, geography, activities, and life events. Unlike most apps, we included both these factors on users’ profiles as opposed to superficial imagery only.

Chat & friends

A simplified and easy-to-use chat

Sometimes the best experience is a familiar experience. Opting for an experience very similar to other popular apps, namely Messenger and Whatsapp, allowed us to release a feature that required little to no improvements. Our feedback indicated that our users navigated the experience smoothly. This feature did require particular attention to backend development, however, as these other above-mentioned apps have set the standard for performance expectations. 


Versions split tested


Customer interviews

Alt Text


Not everything went to plan. Here are some of the core pages that we developed based on in-depth user feedback and testing sessions.


A great team is a family.

Treat your team like co-founders and in return you’ll have a team who invest more time, detail and love into what they do.


You are going to fail.

A Version 1 feature release rarely goes viral. The key is to refine, refine, refine, and not be a “one and done” kind of entrepreneur.


It’s okay to walk away.

We marry our ideas, but forget that half of all marriages end in divorce. Don’t get carried away by passion if your statistics are telling you otherwise.


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