HeyU is a dating app that let's you tell your story & show off your personality through videos. 


PHOTOS: Jena Cumbo

An excerpt from an interview with Founder Jingjing Tian. 

How did you come up with the idea for HeyU?

It’s a long roundabout story. I started in aerospace, so I always wanted to make something. I love making things, that’s what I’ve realized through HeyU. Which I didn’t necessarily know on a tangible, word level. I was always searching for ideas that I could make and I couldn't really do that in the aerospace world because I wasn’t going to go and build ball bearings or anything like that. So I knew that I wanted to get into the software/tech business. I moved here (New York City) to become a writer, so I kind of went from tech/hardware/engineering to a little bit more old school and classics and antiquity. 

What sort of writing?

Fiction. Poetry. I came here for an MFA. I actually tried one week, and went without the internet for that one week, and I couldn’t do it. So I only lasted one week. So I was in fiction/poetry and I knew that I wanted to get back into the tech world, so I was always searching for these ideas. Initially, I knew a few people and I was pitching this idea of maybe a blog or magazine for older women in their 60s. I was thinking about that, a magazine — but then i thought “Does the world really need another magazine?” I guess at the time, I didn’t really think “Does the world really need another dating app?” Which I thought it did…so the idea was jumping around, I thought of maybe doing a video thing with advice and then this woman who I was talking to was like, “That’s a dating app.” And I was like, “That is a dating app! Why not?”

What has been your biggest sacrifice you’ve made?

I think staying or leaving was positive, so that wasn’t the sacrifice. The biggest sacrifice has been— there’s this idea in the startup/tech world that you should just give up your life when creating apps like this. There’s just this glory about how you shouldn’t eat, take vacations or…date. So I stopped dating and my friends were like “Please don’t tell anyone that you have a dating app and you’ve stopped dating.” But it was true…

I’ve heard a lot of that before. Either breaking up with your significant other or stopping to go out and date. 

This is a question I've had a lot of conversations about, especially with other women. Do you want a career? Or do you want a family and a life? And how can we have both?

What do you see as success for HeyU?

That’s a good question. It’s a stepping stone. When the app was released on the store, I was like “YES!” That was a major milestone, just to have made something. A success, I think, it’s really hard. I think I’m a little tough on myself. One idea is if somebody uses it and just smiles.. And then there’s a larger success…which I think is what you’re really asking for. You know, what everyone dreams of I think…10 million users, 20 million users, everyone uses it around the world, it’s the dating app that they use.

And how have you gone about acquiring users?

We’ve also done some social media, it’s hard because we don’t have the funds to do these cool things. I’ve always wanted to make these really cool videos of people dancing.

More under the radar stuff. I have these postcards with Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh and the tagline is ‘Searching For Love On HeyU.” I just want to elevate the idea of love.

It would be my dream to do these huge posters in the subway, which you see, of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh…

Were Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh in love?

They actually dated. Well, not dated…because I don’t think that’s a word they would have used (laughs.) She was really terrible. Sir Walter Raleigh got married and she put him in prison because of that. 

Who is a hero of tech—

—Elon Musk. Hands down. 

That was quick. Why? Well, I feel like I know why…

Totally. Hopefully it’s in the cards for me to be the female Elon Musk. I mean, I do have an aerospace background. I think it will all coalesce. He’s a genius. He has a goal and he does it. He's very altruistic, right? He sees the future. And the reason why he’s doing it all: to save human life.


- Interviewed by H.B., ROKO Labs.