But this year two sex-related start-ups know their audience — they are marketing to the techie and social media savvy, yet carefree and sexually amped crowd.
The first service doesn’t need much explanation, thanks to its very blunt name. Bang with SXSW is a spin-off of Bang with Friends, a service that launched last month to much Internet scrutiny, criticism and, yes, excitement.
Started by three young twenty-somethings, Bang with Friends allows you to sign into the service via Facebook and then select the friends of the opposite sex you’d like to, well, bang. If that friend also selects you, you will both receive a notification that the other is “down to bang.” Forget match-making, this is Internet sex-making.
“SXSW is just a place for people to meet other amazing people and usually some of those people have sex and hook up,” the founder of Bang with Friends, who prefers to be identified right now as C, told ABC News. “We thought, how can we make that a better experience for everyone?”
Since launching at the end of January, “Bang with Friends” has gained 750,000 users and according to C, there have been 180,000 successful pairings. Not that they confirm the actual sex acts: “We don’t follow them into the bedroom no,” C said.
The main service, while controversial in many regards, requires that you are friends on Facebook. The company says that that ensures people are using information they are already sharing with friends; it just allows friends to discreetly see if the other is sexually interested in them.
The SXSW version of the site, however, shows all the people who have registered for the service at the event; you don’t have to be friends on Facebook to select someone you might want to “bang” in Austin for the next few days.
“Bang with SXSW” isn’t just trying to make sure SXSW attendees “bang,” it is also focused on promoting safer sex in Austin this week and is marketing the site by handing out thousands of condoms across the city.
But safe sex doesn’t just start with condoms, and that’s what Ramin Bastani is trying to get across at the show. Bastani is the founder of Qpid.me, a website that allows users to easily share verified sexually transmitted disease results.
The app allows you to put in the information about yourself and where you were recently tested. Then you sign a HIPAA form, which releases your medical records back to you. The site then sends a fax to your doctor and when they have sent it back to Qpid.me, you get a notification.
You are then able to send your results with your partner or potential partner via a text message; it will provide a link that shows the information on Qpid.me’s site. If you haven’t been tested, the site has a locator to help you find a place to get tested.
The company is also working with dating sites to have Qpid approval notifications incorporated into dating profiles and on standalone apps for the service on the iPhone and Android.
“We call ourselves an anti-virus,” Bastani told ABC News at the festival. “Hooking up at SXSW is a huge deal — there’s nothing wrong with hooking up, we just want people to do it in a smarter and safer way.”
That sounds like a geeky spring break we can get behind.