These LADs Are Changing The Dating Game For Good
You hear the stories all the time. One half of a couple doesn't quite fancy the other so much any more and ends it - then the jilted, besotted 50 percent goes on a crazy drive to convince them otherwise.
It's followed by a raft of texts, calls, voicemails, maybe even blood-stained letters, but you know they'll always have your number. You can't just chuck your phone in the bin and start again - your life is on that phone. You need that number.
Sarah, 24, tells LADbible about one such experience: "I met this guy on a night out, we exchanged numbers, but then I decided it was nothing more than a drunken kiss.
"The next day he must have called me six times in the morning, again in the afternoon, and the same on Monday. He was a little older than me and kept saying, 'age is just a number.'"
Well, now maybe Josh Aspess and George Lineker have the solution. An app of disposable numbers that allow you to live two lives: one for the dating scene, one for normal life.
The basic idea being that you can flip between two, three, maybe even four numbers. The name: Flipper.
Where did the idea come from?
Well, there's one person to thank here. Josh's ex-girlfriend, Jade, had just returned to the country after two years living abroad. She'd left the country after a date, who fancied her a lot more than she felt for him, repeatedly pestered her.
"We met up a couple of times, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. We just weren't compatible," Jade tells LADbible.
"My phone did not stop, I'd turn it off, and as soon as I turned it back on again he'd ring immediately. It was calls, texts and voicemails. It started out nicely but then it got nasty."
"We then thought around the subject," Josh says. "Why wasn't there some way you can have a disposable number, that you can download for temporary means effectively?
"We looked into it and it's massive in America, and big in Canada, but the UK didn't have such a function. I spoke to George, who knew more about the dating scene..."
George quickly interrupts: "He got the wrong man. I'm not an expert at all."
Josh quickly agrees: "It turns out he knows nothing. But we did the research around it.
"We realised there were tons of user groups around it, who could use a disposable number and it kind of rolled from there."
Why use it?
The key message of Flipper from the LADs is one of safety - but it goes beyond the dating game too - their initial research was based around an online seller whose number had been posted alongside an unsavoury item on Gumtree, and who subsequently lost control of who could contact him.
Dating, though, does remain as a core focus. And although the initial thought goes to women's safety, men can equally find benefit.
"Obviously, you don't want to be giving your number to anyone," says George. "Good looking fellas, not me, would get annoyed. You also hear about women doing the same as the experience Josh's ex had. It's good for men to have the option.
"It does happen; they're just a bit quieter about it all. It's about being private, being safe, a few guys have been catfished. You can't validate someone from day one.
Josh, remembering his dating days, says: "I'm no playboy but I'm a regular chap who's been on dating apps before and I find that you do get some persistent girls, full-on girls.
"When I met my current girlfriend I got rid of the old number and all the baggage that came with it, I think she was happy about that."
George's dad, Gary (yes, that Gary Lineker), says he uses the app to separate press and media contacts from that of family and close friends.
How does it work?
It's pretty simple. Once the app is downloaded, Flipper offers you a free 30-day trial to see if you like it. Once you've signed up, your new number is waiting for you. Any texts or messages made from that number are kept within the app.
"You can differentiate between your normal and Flipper number," explains George. "It comes through on a notification, you don't have to turn one number off to get messages on another. It's all simultaneous."
It's taken two years, including 18 months of development (when it should have taken seven) to get where the app is now, and a heavy financial cost, but finally, it's ready.
"You can text, call and voicemail," adds Josh. "It's free messaging worldwide if both people are on Flipper.
And for anyone concerned that Flipper numbers might be easily identified by the other party, fear not. "You can't tell that the number is a Flipper number," says Josh. "It's a regular '07' one."
Does it work?
Initial feedback from the testing phase seemed positive - as George confirms, from personal experience.
"I took someone for lunch," he explains, "but we didn't really connect. She messaged me a few times after about meeting up, but I felt better knowing that, if she did keep on at me, I could just block the number.
"I used Flipper then, and also on a night out. You know, when you give your number to be polite but don't want to pursue."
Josh adds: "The feedback has been outrageous - as soon as we went live, we only had seven bugs in two months. Considering we're a small start-up, we were braced for the worst."
Jade, Josh's ex, confirms that she wouldn't hesitate to use it. "People are flippant with their number sometimes," she says. "I'm a model, so agencies have my number - your work is on your number. It's a great choice to have."
They're already working on new features, including international numbers. And its early popularity looks good, with investors already sniffing around.
It's a pretty sneaky app, so does it encourage people to cheat? If it does, surely it's a damaging reputation for the app to have.
George has the perfect answer to this question: "You can look in the view that the app makes it easier to cheat, but you're not going to cheat because of the app, you're going to do it because you want to."
Overall, the pair have taken Flipper from paper to product, and believe in its success. Are they changing the dating game? George and Josh's modesty would suggest not, but you can't help but think otherwise.
"I don't think we're changing it," says Josh. "We're adding to it."
Listening to the double act, you can hear their excitement towards their creation. They are constantly looking for the next thing, sharing articles with each other on how the app could take a next step.
"We're giving people confidence, who've had a bad experience, to get themselves back out there, and to feel safe," says George.
With its multitude of uses, the app could present a new experience to those who may - for whatever reason - be nervous to give their number out. It can create a barrier between business and pleasure, giving everybody a level of security.
The app is initially being launched on the App Store, and is available now, with an Android version due later in the summer.
Featured Image Credit: Flipperapp.co.uk