Teens are spending a lot of time on their phones and they’re still bored.
That was venture capitalist Mike Jones’ thesis for starting an app called Wishbone.
Teens don’t watch TV. They spend a ton of time on their phone, concentrated within a small selection of their favorite apps, Jones says. “We really believe, and it continues to show, teens are really bored. They’re spending time within a very small set of apps and they really want more. And they want more regularly,” he told Business Insider.
A year and a half ago, Jones’ Los Angeles venture capital firm Science started to invest in its own mobile studio. Science has backed startups like Dollar Shave Club, Medium, and DogVacay.
Four months ago, Science’s mobile studio launched Wishbone, an app that shows you two options and lets you vote on which one you like more – a spin on the popular “Would you rather” hypothetical question.
Here how it works: In the morning and at night, Wishbone releases a dozen “cards.” Each card contains a poll. Nicki Minaj or Taylor Swift? Cookies or donuts? The Refinery or Philz Coffee?
You vote on each pop-culturey card, and once you do, you get feedback in regard to how your friends and the broader Wishbone community feel about the poll you just took:
Since its launch, the community on Wishbone rapidly began expanding. Science let its users – mostly teenage girls – create their own cards to have the community vote on. Wishbone started featuring users’ cards in the daily dozen cards they sent out to their users, and people on the platform started building friends and followings.
Now, four months later, Jones says Wishbone has 3.1 million monthly active users, and Wishbone’s community is creating hundreds of thousands of cards each day. In September, Wishbone cracked the Apple App Store’s list of the top 20 social networking apps. Wishbone has 200,000 cards each day, garnering more than 40 million votes.
Jones says Wishbone had a “viral pickup” in popularity, in part due to some popular Instagram users posting and talking about the app to their audience comprised mostly of teen girls – Wishbone’s main demographic. In addition, Jones says Wishbone has become part of a morning ritual for its userbase, and when the school year started, Science saw an uptick of Wishbone spreading throughout schools.
Jones says Wishbone works because it’s a “social barometer” – not just another piece of content washing over teens, but something they can interact with and voice opinions with, whether they’re popular opinions among their peers or contrarian ones.
Jones’ “experiment” with Wishbone was so successful, Science later launched a version for guys too, called Slingshot. Slingshot, though it doesn’t have user-generated content yet, has already broken into the Top-50.