LoCreep Launches with Laughs at NY Tech Meetup

11/8/11Follow @jpruth

The college students behind New York’s LoCreep deserve credit for the showmanship they displayed at the NY Tech Meetup on Nov. 2, when they officially launched of a Web app designed to hinder so-called creeps in the dating pool. LoCreep team members Andres Campanella and Misha Ponizil, with a little help from former TechStars NY designer Rebecca Zhou, demoed the Web-based tool. Ponizil sacrificed his dignity to play a cocky, Jersey Shore-wannabe, strutting on stage in jeans and an undershirt and attempting to “get those digits” from a gun-shy Rebecca Zhou.

In short, LoCreep gives users telephone numbers they can share to filter out overly aggressive or otherwise bothersome people who give chase in the dating world. When the potential creep calls and leaves a voicemail or sends texts to LoCreep numbers, the messages are captured for later review. (The callers’ names are removed to protect the somewhat-innocent.)

LoCreep users can share the messages for humor’s sake with their chosen circle of friends on the site. If the users are feeling particularly spiteful, they can post the anonymous messages on Tumblr for the world to peruse.

LoCreep, which is free, also lets users look up telephone numbers to see if someone they just met has already been tagged in the system as a creep.

LoCreep was developed at October’s hackNY, a hackathon event that gives students 24 hours to build an original application. The team of Campanella, Ponizil, Tengchao Zhou, Nabil Hassein, Randall Hunt, and Paul Lee are students from NYU, West Carolina University, and University of Waterloo. (Rebecca Zhou, who worked with the inaugural class of TechStars NY as an in-house designer, played along for the demo but is not part of the LoCreep team.) Campanella says LoCreep is not yet seeking funding but will once there is a solid business plan in place.

Rather than create native mobile apps, the LoCreep team seems content with the Web-based version. Campanella and Ponizil said their website should render properly on most smartphones. “It functions just like an app, it works like an app,” Ponizil said during the question-and-answer portion of event.

Posting information about others on the Web can be risky, particularly in the dating arena. LoCreep is working hard to avoid turmoil like that suffered by Miami-based website DontDateHimGirl.com. DontDateHimGirl launched in 2005 as a portal for women to post stories about alleged cheaters. The site included photos and stories to, in theory, caution other women about philandering men but verification of such allegations was left entirely in the hands of the person posting the details. That raised questions of libel and DontHateHimGirl said in 2010 it would eliminate the database of accused men and focus on other content relevant to dating.

LoCreep, in contrast, scrapes out personal identifiers before the content is shared. Campanella says the telephone number of the target is also blocked from the friends of the original user. It is too soon to tell if LoCreep can evolve into a bigger operation, but they at least seem cognizant of some of the trouble sharing too much information on the Web can create. “We don’t want to make people look stupid,” Ponizil said. “Everything is anonymous.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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