Bless his heart

LoveRoom Founder Insists His Airbnb-Meets-Tinder Startup Is Real (Or At Least Now It Is)

A real startup, or a real idea for a startup? Semantics.
Would a fake startup have color coded PostIt Notes? (Photo: Josh Bocanegra)

Would a fake startup have color coded PostIt Notes? (Photo: Josh Bocanegra)

When Joshua Bocanegra created a landing page for a new app called LoveRoom, he wasn’t expecting to receive 900 potential members’ email addresses, or any online press attention, but he did. We covered it (noting that it wouldn’t be live for a few months), as did a few others. But yesterday, Forbes insisted that LoveRoom was fake, and bad at being fake to boot.

Forbes charged that the Airbnb-esque platform was nothing more than an idea before it was “willed into existence by journalists.” But its founder told us today he’s been planning a dating site for months.

Mr. Bocanegra responded to the hoopla with a post on–what else?–Medium. This afternoon, he emailed us a link to the treatise, entitled “LoveRoom Is Real.” It links to another piece by him entitled, “Josh Bocanegra Is a Genius.”

“Yes,” Mr. Bocanegra wrote, “LoveRoom was a thought experiment and it was also a marketing experiment. I wanted to see if people would talk about it and if people would use it.” He didn’t start development on LoveRoom before creating the landing page, he said, but he did “think it through a bit,” so, A for effort.

We know at least one thing Mr. Bocanegra told us last week was a fib (or at least a major misdirection). He assured us, “We’re teaming up with Airbnb and act almost like an ‘add-on’ for the site as we continue to grow and then branch out on our own. We’ll use Airbnb as the back end of our site, requiring users to sign up to Airbnb to use our service.”

Yeah, no such agreement with Airbnb was in place. They never responded to Mr. Bocanegra, so he’s “decided” not to integrate with the successful short-term rental platform. He will manually confirm that LoveRoom users have valid Airbnb accounts before letting them use the service, though.

Still, he insisted today, LoveRoom is real, dammit, and will be launching as early as Monday, with an interface that “is going to look similar to Plenty Of Fish but prettier.”

The site has no funding but, conveniently, “we don’t need it quite yet because I’m doing all of the development myself,” he said, despite having told Forbes he has no tech experience. He is creating a web app now, and will decide whether to build on iPhone or Android first based on feedback from users.

At the end of the first Medium piece–which he emailed to this journalist with a suggestion that we link to it–he insists, “It’s still up in the air so don’t quote me journalists.” Oh, okay.

We’ve also reached out to Airbnb for comment, but they haven’t responded yet. As for LoveRoom’s existence beyond the realm of theory, we’ll believe it when we see it.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com