February 7, 2013
How often have you shared your dating site profile on Instagram?
I’m assuming never. And this is one of the most promising signs for Let’s Date, a new dating app that launched publicly today out of Science Inc.: users are sharing their profiles on Instagram. Because they aren’t embarrassed. They want to show them off – because Let’s Date profiles are pretty darn cool.
The app centers around these profiles, which are like playing cards. To start, you construct your own card, choosing “pigeon holes” for yourself: techie, design snob, animal lover, night owl, etc. You then sort through a deck of potential daters’ cards, marking off things you don’t like – say, “hopeless romantic” or “hedonist.” If two people click “let’s date” on each other’s cards, the app suggests a cafe or restaurant for a first meeting.
This may not seem so radical, but the innovation happens behind the scenes. Most dating sites have some theory about what makes two people compatible – whether that’s personality on Match, or interests on Cupidtino. Let’s Date has very few assumptions: it only starts with very basic ones like pairing up the tattooed with the tattooed. Beyond that, it just listens to your behavior and learns, paying careful attention to what “pigeon holes” you nix. In that way, it’s similar to Plenty of Fish.
One interesting side effect is that you can’t have “deal breakers.” Cross off “stoner” five times, says founder Sean Suhl, and you’ll see way, way fewer stoners in your deck of cards – but they might still pop up occasionally.
“There has to be a little bit of serendipity,” says Suhl. “We don’t let you say ‘never.’ We let you say you want a whole lot less of this.”
In fact, you don’t even tell Let’s Date what you’re looking for – you know, the typical age, hair, race, etc. – besides a male or female. Suhl likes to tell the story of his CTO, a vegan, nonsmoking liberal who’s dating a meat-eating, smoking Republican. This pair, who (fortunately) met in person, would never find each other on a traditional dating site. Plus, casually browsing through dating cards is more natural.
“When I go to a party, I don’t ask the host to introduce me to all the 18- to 24-year-old single, nonsmoking women at the party,” says Suhl, who cofounded SuicideGirls.
After testing the app in San Francisco and a few other cities, Suhl and his team have learned a few things about love. First, San Franciscans like coffee first dates, and New Yorkers prefer drinks. Next, people rarely click “let’s date” on the first card in their deck, even if it’s a stupendous match. As good realtors have learned, we can’t believe that the first thing we see is a winner. So Let’s Date shuffles things up a bit.
There’s probably a treasure trove of such information to learn. And with users slashing profiles right and left, Let’s Date may learn it fast enough.
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