Social Impact Tech: Justin Haar of Eden On How Their Technology Will Make An Important Positive Impact

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
11 min readApr 16, 2023

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In my opinion, the only way you are going to realistically make a positive social impact is if you are really passionate about the problem while having somewhat of an existential crisis.

In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Haar, founder of the dating and social app, Eden.

App developer Justin Haar is the founder of the dating and social app, Eden, with the mission to create the closest connections through technology. Eden allows people to connect by many identities including sexuality and gender. He believes technology exists to help us find the one and thinks he can pull it off. Before creating Eden on his own, Justin built video software for NBCUniversal’s iOS & tvOS apps, dealership and consumer iOS apps for global automotive companies, and used to manage a team for the New York Post apps. His expertise includes iOS/tvOS development with a focus on audio, video and general media technologies.

While overcoming pediatric cancer and being born with Tourette’s, Justin still continues to have a strong mentality and his hard work translates into his personal life as well. He was able to train and play competitive tennis at the college level.

Justin lives in New York City. When he’s not creating apps, he goes to the gym every morning, likes to read up on world news and new technologies, goes for walks in Central and Hudson River Parks, and tries to get on the tennis court when he can.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up in a small town in northeastern New Jersey right outside of New York City. Tennis was a big part of my family’s life, especially for my mom. At age three, they noticed my natural ability in playing the sport. At age six, I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, which really threw a wrench in many parts of my life, especially social interactions. When I was eight, my mom was diagnosed with abdominal mesothelioma. She passed away when I was 17 at the young age of 55. At age 13, I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma and did 30 rounds of chemotherapy and 4 surgeries. My mom and I did treatments together at some points. After battling cancer for a year and starting high school, I started to get back in shape, trained, and played competitive tennis where I ultimately played at the D1 college level. Throughout childhood and well into college, however, I was also still struggling with my identity and Tourettes, which affected my life in the classroom and, to some degree, continues to affect my life.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I remember the excitement I had when I was first hired as a software engineer at a vendor for BMW of North America. This was back in 2016, five years after graduating college as an Economics & Business major back in 2011 when coding bootcamps were a new concept that didn’t guarantee a career in tech. But, I took a chance anyway since I was somewhat decent at math. Fast forward about six months after graduating from the bootcamp, I was hired and went from basically not having a real career to building apps for BMW of North America. Without being hired by that company, I probably wouldn’t know where I would be today, so I’m definitely still grateful to them for taking a chance on me.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My family, especially my Dad. I lived at home until I was 27 — except for short stints in Los Angeles and San Francisco totalling about a year — and was either underemployed or unemployed. Without him, I would not have been able to live in NYC. I know compared to many other people that I was very lucky in that regard.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“With great power comes great responsibility” — Spiderman’s uncle, Ben. I heard this quote for the first time in Toby McGuire’s first Spiderman movie, but I think it was originally Voltaire. It definitely sticks since I’ve had to overcome many difficult experiences while growing my professional life. I feel like it’s within my power and responsibility to give back and create a better future for people living with physical and mental health traumas like loneliness and the inability to connect and develop close relationships with others.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Resilience, empathy, and motivation.

Resilience stems from the trauma I experienced during the first 20 years of my life. Being able to continue moving forward while taking care of my physical and mental health is really important to starting a business and being an entrepreneur. Starting a business is also an extremely lonely experience with a lot of hurdles, so it’s important to be physically and emotionally resilient to keep pressing forward and doing the next best thing for yourself and your business without having emotions affect those decisions.

Empathy stems from being able to understand people since I’ve been through so many different forms of adversity and being able to figure out what I empathize with the most. If the business you are building revolves around a pain point you deeply care about and empathize with, I believe the chances of your success will be better.

Motivation is a result of figuring out what I have the passion for, but more importantly, what I have the energy for. One can have a passion for something, but if you don’t have the energy to see it through, it’s probably not your passion and you won’t have the motivation to see it through.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive social impact on our society. To begin, what problems are you aiming to solve?

Eden is a swipeless app with a mission to help people find the closest connections through technology. We also want to demonstrate a world of intimacy across all identities, and to help local communities grow with one another. It’s important that we start building a world and a society where the ways we express ourselves come in many forms and should not feel restricted to anyone regardless of their identities. We should encourage self-expression without fear of judgment or rejection. Something I believe people want is to live in a world where we are encouraged to express how we feel. Eden also has social music discovery and music playback controls powered exclusively by Apple Music right in the Eden app. Music is universal and brings people together, so having another way to discover and play music makes perfect sense using our own, built-in, mini and full-screen Music players.

Eden also has the first-ever 2-way filter called “Filters & Profile”, which creates more exact connections by allowing users to filter for people who are also filtering for someone like you. The app is also launching the first-ever in-app local events/deals features for date ideas and purchases. Searches can be made by category, name, description, city, and purchase deals. After that, users can make their date decision and complete their purchases or reservation within the app. This helps to make the date selection process more interactive, fun, and simple.

How do you think your technology can address this?

Eden is laser focused on innovative matching technologies and so we’d like to call ourselves a matching company at the end of the day, even though one would typically call Eden a dating app. Our first innovative approach is the world’s 1st 2-way matching algorithm called, “Filters & Profile’’, that allows you to filter for people based on sexuality, gender, age, and height and those people are also filtering for someone with your gender, sexuality, age and height. This builds on creating closer relationships between people regardless of your gender or sexuality.

Another way Eden is building closer connections is with the first-ever built-in Apple Music Player, allowing users to post and share songs, and to bond with others about music.Another neat feature is the ability to change the playback rate of any Apple Music song, creating entirely new experiences when listening to music. Music is universal and brings people together, so having another way to discover and play music makes perfect sense using our own, built-in, mini and full-screen Music players.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

Struggling to connect with my peers growing up, especially because of Tourettes, is what drove me to create Eden and a new world where close and lasting relationships thrive for all identities. The ongoing trauma that almost seemed never ending made me passionate about innovating a new space that inspires bonding and demonstrates all types of relationships to the world. I believe there is technology that exists that can help us find closer and more intimate relationships, so I’m passionate about working with technology that has the potential to solve those problems.

How do you think this might change the world?

Imagine a world where everyone has the one, or someone who has understood them like no other, by their sides. This might seem mostly science-fiction, but I believe the technology exists to pull it off. If we do, the world as we know it would be totally different. One in which I believe wars would cease to exist, crime would be a thing of the past and what divides us now won’t divide us any more. We would work together more and help each other solve our greatest problems like sustainable living, disasters, health, engineering, and economic prosperity and freedom for all.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

One drawback could be that the technology, like any other tech, might not work. It wouldn’t be fair for anyone to guarantee such a claim that finding the one is possible, so it’s important to make that clear in the beginning. Another drawback is that some information may seem sensitive and personally identifiable, so it’s important to consider what people are comfortable with sharing, plus the privacy and security around that information, which is our number one concern. I think this technology may also cause some economic issues arising from people being satisfied, mostly from close and deep relationships with friends and partners, so it’s important to think about how we can change our economic backbone to support this entirely new mentality in people.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”?

  1. Find a problem from an experience that caused you pain at some point(s) in your life.
  2. Once you find that problem, figure out how to solve it with any and all existing tools out there. A lot of people don’t realize that tools already exist that can help you create solutions. The last thing you should be thinking about is to create solutions from absolute scratch. More than likely, a tool you could use, or a process you want to put together, may already exist and may not be that expensive to put together. Eden wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for many 3rd-party tools and open source software, so the tooling and contributions from the developer community are amazing for convenience, cost, and time to implement.
  3. Focus on one thing first. I remember over the years I was trying to build Eden while trying to put in a bunch of other things. I realized that it’s important to be really good at one thing whether it be your product or your brand and then expand from there. I think people like products that do one thing really well vs products that do a bunch of things somewhat well.
  4. Make sure the problem you’re trying to solve is a problem that many people have. Not just your parents, siblings, or close friends. Get as much negative feedback as possible. Be prepared for your idea to be ripped apart. Look at your competitors and what they are doing. How do you set yourself apart from a product and brand perspective?
  5. In my opinion, the only way you are going to realistically make a positive social impact is if you are really passionate about the problem while having somewhat of an existential crisis.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Everything in the world can be improved, and I mean EVERYTHING. Nothing has peaked in terms of how good it can be, whether it’s technology or ideas about culture, society, religion, or politics, to name a few. I believe everything should constantly evolve and have room for innovation and growth. Never think you live in a world where everything is set in stone. Don’t be afraid to take your chance at something meaningful. Remember, the Wright brothers didn’t have a pilot’s license.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Elon Musk. Regardless if you agree or disagree with him on certain things, his image and accomplishments are at a level incomparable to anyone else. I agree with ultimately living in a sustainable future, which can filter into every aspect of life and bring the world much closer together, but I think we also need a partner to work on developing close relationships in the process. If we do, I believe we can accomplish this sustainable future exponentially faster for both developed and developing countries. A sustainable future would be much easier to manage, control, and sustain if we were all on the same page with another. Loneliness is throwing a wrench in that plan and technology today has never been more focused on keeping you home and on your phone all day. Eden was built to solve this problem.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Follow Eden’s social media accounts @edendating, and subscribe to our newsletter at myeden.me.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.

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