Co-written with Travis Arbon
You’ve met up a few times, there’s a connection, an attraction-after dinner and a few glasses of wine you’ve both made your way back to the apartment. “We’re totally having sex,” you think. You flip on the music, dim the lights and the vibe of Al Green owns the room. Then it happens, “I have something to tell you,” the person says, “I have an STD.”
Insert sound of a needle scratching a turntable
And everything comes to a halt.
By the time you read this, another person has an STD in the U.S., and it occurs every 26 minutes in Maricopa County.
To avoid those awkward moments XOXY, a self-credentialing app where users voluntarily go through a background check and sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, is designed to add another level of transparency to the dating scene.
Video: Co-founder Jo Lynn Clemens | 4+ min run time
Co-founder and President Jo Lynn Clemens, a single mom and veteran in the insurance and risk management industry, created XOXY out of her own concern for her daughter entering the dating world. Because of security concerns in online dating such as false identity, sexual assaults and violent crimes, Clemens wanted her daughter to know exactly who the person is before she went on a date. For others, Clemens wanted to give those in the dating scene the same peace of mind by providing a pathway for ensuring the health and safety of the dating population.
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“With 40 million Americans [engaged in] online dating, [there is the risk] of ‘catfishing’ where people are resuming an identity from people, sexual assault related from online dating and other violent crimes because people don’t know the people you are meeting,” Clemens said. “People can assume any type of persona that is advantageous to them and tell falsehoods about who they are. XOXY neutralizes that by taking away the variables that could be potentially be dangerous or fraudulent.”
XOXY, (pronounced Zoxsie), which stands for kisses (X) and hugs (O) and men and women designated with the X and Y chromosome, recently released their product on the market and plans to hit up popular dating sites to integrate their credentialing element into ones’ profile.
“We want XOXY to become a household word where you can ask someone in person ‘Are you XOXY-ed?’ You can also look up people [through the app and website] by name, city and state to see if they have the credentialed.”
In order to become XOXY certified, the individual needs to undergo both STD testing and background check and come up free of felony convictions or felony and misdemeanor sexual offense convictions as well as STDs (except for Herpes I), as well as submit a recent photo for verification.
The certification lasts six months upon which the user needs to renew and get tested and checked all over again. But what if someone gets certified and then the next weekend, whoops! life changes and their certification would technically be false?
“We feel that people who are going to take that step to be responsible and certified every six months, are most likely the type of people who are cautious…and they have a vested interest in a long-term relationship,” Clemens said.
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For the STD testing, XOXY has partnered with Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest medical testing companies in U.S. With regard to privacy, Clemens says that, “We are HIPAA protected. XOXY doesn’t get any personal information.” They do not receive details to indicate why someone would be rejected only “…name, city and state and photo, our vendor partners maintain the sensitive information,” she continued.
The certification is $139, which includes STD testing and background check, and free Search Only Membership for six months. Clemens says the registration takes about 10 minutes to complete the background check. Upon approval, the candidate will receive the requisition for the STD testing from the vendor.
If an individual doesn’t want to put their personal information online, there is a website-only Search Membership Option for $9.99 per month.
Currently Clemens and her co-founder are funding the company and are focused on customer acquisition across multiple generations, even encouraging parents to buy this service for their college kids.
“With that broad brush of a target market…[we view it as] a self-empowerment tool,” Clemens said. “We believe that XOXY makes it easier to discuss things that are awkward and bring the conversation down to [one question,] ‘Are you XOXY-ed?’”
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While Clemens is full-steam ahead building a profitable business, at the core she is passionate about protecting people during their dating experience.
“I think people take big risks with the health and safety today, that they live in the moment but don’t realize the love term consequences of taking these steps up front, it could jeopardize their relationships in the future as well as their safety,” Clemens said.
Tip from XOXY: ask for a driver’s license when meeting up with someone from an online dating site to verify identity.
Learn more about dating apps at AZTB