Gamifying Love: Kahnoodle Launches Couples App to Strengthen Relationships

By Erin Griffith , written on August 20, 2012

From The News Desk

Some 50 percent of people in the US (over age 15) are in relationships. As of this year, there are probably 50 apps competing for those couples' attention.

Kahnoodle is one such app that launched today. Based in New York, the company differentiates itself from the others with its focus on relationship maintenance.

A quick overview of the landscape includes the following players:

Pair does communications and sharing. And thumb-kissing.

Weesh does to-do lists, dates and digital scrapbooking.

Avocado and SimplyUs do date planning and communications.

HowAboutWe Couples is like a date concierge package.

Twosome does couples therapy.

Kahnoodle is different in that makes your relationship into a bit of a game. (One with real life consequences, though, like getting dumped.) It uses gaming elements like badges and positive affirmations to help couples stay connected and keep their partners happy. "It's about, 'How do we make the most of the time we spend together and consistently know we're meeting each others needs?'" founder and CEO Zuhairah Scott Washington says.

Kahnoodle does that through "Kudos," which one partner can award the other after an appreciated act of relationshippery. This fills up a "love tank." If the tank gets low, the app suggests something nice to do for one's significant other. Kahnoodle takes into account what each partner says they need out of a relationship. Those points, badges, kudos and their accompanying photos and messages are presented as a feed in the app, which becomes a highlights reel of meaningful moments in the relationship.

The gaming elements are based on the idea that people in relationships want positive affirmation in order to feel loved and connected. Of course, in order to receive that positive affirmation and love, users have to overcome the cheesiness of such a game. But most designated "couples" stuff is cheesy, and sometimes cheesy is what it takes to help a troubled relationship or marriage. Maybe cynicism is what got the relationship in trouble to start with.

I think I could overlook the cheese factor with the fact that it's a game, and a little light-hearted competition can be fun. Kudos points basically signify who is the "better partner" in the relationship according to Kahnoodle, and they're displayed right next to each other in the app, creating some friendly competition.

The question is whether there is enough of a demand to support one of these apps, much less a whole cornucopia of them. Many of the couples apps have the same business model of affiliate links for activities purchased through the app, which means they require a mass of users to carry much weight with service providers they hope to make money from.

Kahnoodle also offers dates for sale. Beyond the "kudos" function, the app has your standard geo-targeted daily deals aggregation for date ideas, as well as a section called "FYEO," or "for your eyes only," where photos and messages can be shared.

But the app is more focused on keeping the romance and happiness in a relationship than piling on layers of functionality. Kahnoodle's founders specifically left off utilitarian functions like a calendar and to-do list in this version as a way keep the app clean and simple, Washington says.

Kahnoodle officially launches out of private beta in iOS today. The company was a part of MassChallenge accelerator, which takes no equity in participating companies. Kahnoodle has raised a friends and family seed round of funding and may pursue a venture capital round in the future.