I thought it was appropriate to change things up a little bit and talk about a startup that's hoping to hook you up... with a loving person and a lasting relationship. As I write, several things are on my mind, not the least of which is my own wedding planning.
While I researched the information for today's startup and didn't use it personally, I met my fiancé online. What was once (and in a lot of cases, still is) a taboo, is becoming more and more common. For me personally, as a 22-year-old college student who longed for companionship, being surrounded by peers who considered a long-term relationship, staying over for two nights in a row turned me on to the online dating scene (pun so not intended).
With myself and others in mind, it's not hard to see why more and more people are turning to online services and matchmakers (friends, family, apps etc.) to be their Cupids. For me, it was the inability to find men in my proximity who wanted the same kind of relationship I did but for others, who have diverse dating needs everything from sexuality to advanced age can be considered a reason for wanting to give dating apps a try. Sometimes it's just the desire to find someone who has similar ideas on love, life, religion (or lack thereof), food or even wine as you do.
With the world becoming larger and diverse interests all across the globe, it's easy to see why some of us can no longer rely on our well-meaning parents or friends setting us up with Larry from high school or Maria, you know, the one with the ponytail? Dating apps and services aren't new, so what makes this startup different?
This dating tech startup, called Dating Ring, is different in one significant way. They offer a price similar to those of traditional dating websites but their service is better (according to their website) because each customer is assigned their own personal matchmaker, who is a human being and picks matches for them. The feedback that they receive from customers improves future matches. Dating Ring aspires towards better transparency, something that many online daters may applaud since many dating sites and profiles contain false or old information about your next potential match (or mate!).
The founders, three women, Lauren Kay, Emma Tessler and Katie Bambino describe their dating app like the best friend you wish you had when looking for a mate, comparing the efforts that individual matchmakers go through to ensure that information on your matches is accurate and relevant, to the effort a good friend might put in. Another breath of fresh air for many lonely hearts is that, unlike many traditional dating services and matchmaking services, Dating Ring knows love is love. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people can also use their services to find a match.
Their qualified matchmakers are scored for high emotional intelligence and good communication skills. Most of them come from backgrounds like therapy and life coaching and have previous experience as matchmakers. Best of all customers can meet their personal matchmakers in person by consultation in New York City or Washington DC. They can also receive telephone consultations only in San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles.
Okay so maybe I've got your attention, but how does it work? First, prospective customers set up a meeting by phone or in person with their matchmaker. Alternatively, they can also answer a few questions online. Once those questions are answered, the matchmaker will ask a few more details about the customer and what they are looking for in another person. Behind the scenes, the matchmaker looks through a database of potential matches to find some people suitable for their client. In this way, matches are handpicked as opposed to searching an endless online database of possible matches (and possible flops).
Lastly, after matches are picked for the customer, they can submit feedback after each match and each date. This feedback helps improve and further personalize the matches chosen for them. In addition, to matchmaking services through their website, users receive assistance with which photos best represent them, dating advice and parties are set up so that singles can meet in person at various singles events.
Once a customer is set up with a potential match, they can use a secured SMS system to "text" their match without sharing their phone number or other personal details.
Still a little on the fence? You would be relieved to know that your matches are based on more than the initial questionnaire you fill out at the beginning of your service. Matchmakers use information from your Facebook profile, consultation, and message history when finding your potential matches.
Customers can communicate with matchmakers initially over email before the consultation but personalized notes accompany any suggestion which explains why the person was suggested to the customer. Furthermore, premium customers receive an hour, in person consultation and Skype call after each date to see how things are going. They will also have access every working day to their matchmaker by email and phone. Right now they are only available in the cities I previously mentioned, however, they are hoping to expand and invite users to sign up with alerts to stay abreast of their expansion.
Whether or not you're interested, your next question is likely, how much will this set me back? Their Silver Membership plan is $40/month and offers two matches per month. The Gold Membership plan, costing $80/month includes 4 matches a month and includes a photo of the match, basic information and a description of why the match was chosen. Both packages feature unlimited support from the matchmaker if there are concerns or trouble.
So whether you're looking for love in person or online, Dating Ring wants to ensure you're not looking for love in all the wrong places. For some paying for matchmaking online seems impersonal and strange but for others, the ability to have the support of a real human being and save themselves the frustration and time of dating the wrong people just might be worth it.