How do you feel about your relationship over the last seven days?
That’s the first question you’ll answer on the just-launched love-life improvement site TheIceBreak. Consider it a Formspring for couples.
TheIceBreak poses a daily icebreaker question for couples about their partner or relationship and encourages the user to “capture a moment.” That moment can be a love note or photo, which is sent via email to a partner. TheIceBreak is based on relationship theories, and a couples therapist helped design the program. Once a week, users answer a relationship survey that TheIceBreak then turns into a stats report used to compare relationship statuses for all couples.
“We want to recommend things that people can use to improve their love life,” says co-founder Dwipal Desai. “Everything that you do on the site will improve these recommendations.”
“Plus, people like to see other people’s answers,” adds co-founder Christina Brodbeck. “It makes it feel less lonely with their relationship issues.”
Former YouTubers, Brodbeck and Desai have worked together since 2005. Brodbeck was the first UI designer at YouTube (the flavor of the video sharing site is certainly reflected on TheIceBreaker) and Desai was the first engineer at YouTube to work on consumer attitude features. They both went on to work on YouTube mobile, then left to start online dating site Pickv.
“We had it up for three or four months and decided to take it down,” explains Brodbeck. “We learned a lot and saw we could only go so far as a dating site. Engagement was low and unless you got women on you couldn’t get men. So we started solving those issues and that process lead us to TheIceBreak.”
To answer the question burning in your brain, Brodbeck has a boyfriend and Desai is married. They work out of the Founders Den in San Francisco.
To become profitable, TheIceBreak will use three tactics. One, signup requires birthday and anniversary dates, which can be tied to a reminder and gifting service (pretty helpful). Two, interacting on the site leads to “date night coins,” which can be redeemed for gifts. Three, they plan on rolling out a subscription model to help users improve on specific issues and get customized solutions. The current beta release is open to anyone for free.
I took some time to play around with the site and found three issues.
First issue: When am I going to have time to answer these questions? I’m on the site in the name of journalism, but my boss wouldn’t be thrilled if I hung out here and contemplated my love life. When I’m home, I’m a mom and unless it’s YoGabbaGabba.com, I’m not online.
Second issue: How is this service going to grow if participation is private and anonymous? There are places to share on Facebook and Twitter, but perhaps that won’t be enough to spread the word.
Third issue: My husband isn’t buying it.
Me: “Sweet honey bear, I love you soOOOOO much! Did you get a chance to checkout TheIceBreaker?!”
Husband: “I did. Did you remember to rent a minivan for our vacation?”
Besides those few hangups, TheIceBreaker does pose some basic questions couples can benefit from answering, including “What was one of the happiest years of your life, and why?” or “What’s one of the most cowardly things you have ever done?”
More than anything, it’s just fun to have new questions to talk about offline. That’s the place relationships thrive. When the computer and phone are turned off.
Just when I had given up on my husband ever using TheIceBreaker, I get an email:
[husband] just shared the following Icebreaker with you.
Do you believe in horoscopes? According to horoscopes, how are you and your partner supposed to get along?
His answer: I base my life on horoscopes and interpreting tea leaves, unless I have a fortune cookie handy. They all agree we are destined for greatness.
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