For Chinese netizens who feel judged by their WeChat posts, or stigmatized for their bawdy sense of humor, there’s now an app called ‘Right Brainer’ (右脑人), a safe space for China’s self-identifed weirdos.
“This is a social product that brings lunatics and psychos together,” states Right Brainer’s website. “We help the unruly meet troublemakers, and let misfits find unconventional friends.”
Much of the “weirdness” of Right Brainer boils down to semi-risqué content – phallic memes, nipples, condom jokes – though there is some legitimately bizarre content on there, like a picture of hairy man wearing nothing but a pink, flowered apron. The app also features original creations by Right Brainer users, such as uploaded artwork and short comics.
The point is to share content that boosts your imagination or “opens your mind” (脑洞大开, which literally translates to ‘widen your brain hole’), says Wei Zheng, the CEO of Right Brainer. “I believe that everyone, under different circumstances and periods of time, has the potential to ‘open their minds’.”
To facilitate “brain opening,” the app pushes timed challenges to users, who can win strange, kitschy awards if they complete them on time. For example, responding to the prompt, “Describe a time when you successfully wooed a woman or man,” earns users a wooden sculpture of a tuxedo-ed duck. Users can also respond to “crazy sound” (疯声) prompts through voice recordings. Some “crazy sound” responses are more confessional, such as “Tell us about something that made you unhappy recently”, while others are more competitive, such as “Who can whistle the best?”
“Adding a speech bubble onto an image counts as a kind of creativity,” Mr. Zheng told Chinese media site Pencil News (link in Chinese). “There’s no standard to creativity, nor is there a high barrier to entry. Everyone is creative and can participate in the creative process.”
The Beijing-based startup is hoping to convert the “lunacy” and quirkiness of their users into creative solutions. Here, creativity doesn’t refer to graphic design, visual art, or anything categorical, but simply the ability to imagine. According to Mr. Zheng, Right Brainer will serve as a platform where users can crowdsource solutions to personal issues and requests.
“There won’t be any restrictions on what kind of requests are allowed [on Right Brainer], but we will not recommend requests that require offline or high-tech solutions,” says Mr. Zheng. Instead, requests might look similar to the prompts that Right Brainer users are already used to, like,”I can’t sleep. Can someone tell me a story?” or, “My girlfriend is a second-generation rich kid. How should I propose to her?”
Currently, Right Brainer only allows users to socialize and share, as the request feature is slated to launch on May 7th, according to Mr. Zheng. Right Brainer’s approach of building a community before monetizing user interactions is typical in China, where startups, such as ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, often prioritize user acquisition over earning capital.
Last Friday, the company announced they have secured 6 million RMB (about $927,000 USD) in angel funding. Earlier in April, Right Brainer raised about 7 million RMB (about $1 million USD) through JD’s crowdfunding platform, and a 2 million RMB round of seed funding (about $309,000 USD) from Buttonwood Capital, Rice Bank, and Taihuoniao in 2015.