GDI Editorial: Four Dating Startups Take On 2019

Every Friday, Global Dating Insights publishes the Startup Roundup – a weekly roundup of updates from those new players and niche brands trying to break into the dating space. It covers around six or seven companies per week, or around 350 per year. Something about the sector makes it a magnet for ambitious individuals and innovative brands so, at the start of 2019, we’re keen to find out what that is. Below are short interviews with four founders, each hoping their app will be the one to create the most meaningful connections this year.

Alex Pasykov, Founder of Taimi

Introduce your app! What’s the product idea, where are you based, and where are you in the startup journey?

AP: “Taimi is the first gay social media and dating app rolled into one in the US.

We started Taimi in 2017 in Las Vegas. We wanted to create a gay dating app that would be a comfortable space for the community: inclusive, non-discriminatory and friendly. Thus we have developed some extra safety features and careful moderation of profiles. We made all the security-related features accessible to all users free of charge, contrary to many other apps on the market, as we see them as the key dimension of Taimi.

Within a year we made significant changes to the product and switched from being a simple dating app to a social network. Today Taimi has an already habitual swiping thing with a unique matching mechanism and a digest. The digest is something like a Facebook feed, where users can express themselves posting short captions, photos and reposting content from other users. There are also groups users can both create and follow.

In other words, we switched from being a cliche dating app, one that imposes the need to find someone for dating, to a freedom app. We don’t put any limitations on users. They communicate and spend enjoyable time in the app. If it leads to a date — well, that’s perfect, but not obligatory.”

What stood out about this sector to you as an entrepreneur? Where do you think it’s headed in the next five years?

AP: “After a year in the dating sector, we see the dating sector as a red ocean full of opportunities and threats. Global dating market revenue shows continuous growth of 5% year over year, and hundreds of dating apps are launched. Still, less than 10% of them stay in business for more than a year. One wishing to enter the dating business should prepare themselves for many challenges to face and obstacles to overcome.

The specifics of our app is the audience. We work with the LGBT+ community and find it enjoyable. Our users are active and continuously provide us with tons of feedback, which allows us to discover new insights and adapt to the immediate needs of the community.

Talking about the future, we see that ‘dating is outdating’. Dating apps are no longer the place to find a spouse. Users employ apps to socialize. Users seek a product that will be suitable for making friends, acquaintances, dates, finding city guides, career opportunities, like-minded people and instantaneous communication. This is especially important for gay apps, as the LGBT community is often discriminated against in real life and seeks a free and safe place to express itself.”

What are your goals for 2019 and beyond?

AP: “The goals are ambitious, of course. Our top priorities for 2019 and beyond are product, audience and the LGBT+ community. In 2019 we plan to concentrate on the social media aspect of Taimi: introduce a customized digest and more types of content. We also set the goal of becoming more accessible and launching in South America and Europe.

In the long term, we see ourselves as the most comfortable and secure LGBT+ social media & dating app, helping the community and lifting the stigma from diversity, queer and self-expression.”

Visit the Taimi website here.

Tamara Goldstein, Founder of Pickable

Introduce your app! What’s the product idea, where are you based, and where are you in the startup journey?

TG: “Pickable is the first and only dating app to prioritize women’s privacy. Safeguarding women from the exposure of their personal life on a public platform is the core of the business. With Pickable, women no longer create a profile at all. They instead send a private photo to the guys they’re interested in; eliminating the need for every user on the app to see all their information, or equally for friends, family or colleagues to recognize them on an app. Solving this problem was really important to me, and I think it will help a whole new category of women feel at ease to date online.

Pickable also has a distinct value proposition for men. Men care less about exposure, and very little about analyzing profiles. About 80% of men swipe right on all profiles anyhow! On Pickable, since men no longer swipe (for hours), they sit back and wait to be picked by women, receiving inbound interest in the form of a photo and chat request, which can be accepted or declined. They also have a dashboard showing how they’re doing on the app as compared to other men nearby.

The app is live in France, the UK and the US … and I’m basically a nomad, but currently in NYC.”

What stood out about this sector to you as an entrepreneur? Where do you think it’s headed in the next five years?

TG: “This sector is incredibly interesting to me, for a number of reasons. I’ve always loved meeting and introducing people and forging connections, romantic or otherwise. As an entrepreneur maybe I was drawn to dating for this reason, but inevitably my own experiences have also shaped the direction of my business. I felt how much the public nature of online dating was a deterrent, and I knew there was a whole category of women who felt the same way – and who similarly did not believe that Bumble was a good enough solution.

As the GDI forecast predicted, the sector is progressing quickly towards a $12 billion market in the next year, and I definitely see the next 5 years as pivotal for growth and change.

1 – I think technology will be leveraged to solve some of the inherent problems with online dating. Firstly, the verification of profiles through social media – we all know the problems with fake accounts there too, so this is clearly not a solution. The tech has become more sophisticated than it used to be on that front, but I think we’ll see a bigger lift.

2 – Algorithms that predict matches is likely another one. I read about an AI tool that could get to know your likes, vet profiles and even schedule dates for you. Though I don’t think you can predict compatibility or chemistry, I do think a virtual dating assistant sounds efficient and will maybe get people to meet in real life more (which is the point)!

3 – Last but not least, I think the user experience will expand from swiping to include other methods. Pickable, for example, has eliminated swiping for guys, since women don’t create profiles on our app. I definitely believe it sparks a different frame of mind and a more purposeful result for both sexes.”

What are your goals for 2019 and beyond?

TG: “In 2019 I’m looking forward to launching in several other countries, including Italy, Austria and Germany. And beyond that… establishing Pickable as a leader in the space above Bumble, since I think we’ve eclipsed what they have done in terms of both providing control and solving a problem for women.”

Visit the Pickable website here.

Chris Urbina & Manuel Hernández Tomás, Founders of Kiki

Introduce your app! What’s the product idea, where are you based, and where are you in the startup journey?

CU: “Kiki is the first App that pays you for having fun.

There is a big problem with traditional dating apps: hundred of millions of users are losing time and money with them because they usually don’t work as well as they would like. They get bored and leave the platforms.

That is the reason why we created Kiki. We only charge when people have dates. No more useless subscriptions!

It’s very easy to use, you only have to choose the person you want to meet, choose an experience with them (like grab a coffee, go to dinner, to the cinema…) and pay a little fee to guarantee that date. At the end of the month we pay the 70% of that fee to the people you requested and who attend your date. People say that we are like “Airbnb for dating”.

We have people working in Spain, UK and US.”

What stood out about this sector to you as an entrepreneur? Where do you think it’s headed in the next five years?

CU: “The sector has a big market size, and we want to get in on the fun while our users are having fun. There are a lot of things to do and innovate in the dating market.

Now we are working on blockchain and chatbots with only real users. I´m very proud of our team, we have people who worked in Badoo, Y Combinator and Zynga.

We launched last year and actually have thousands of users in different countries. Before, we tested Kiki with people from more than 50 different nationalities. With us you can save money and share experiences. We are disrupting the dating industry with our business model.”

What are your goals for 2019 and beyond?

CU: “We are preparing to launch in the US in Q1 (we are accelerated in Stanford University), and we are exploring Asia for a launch late this year.

In 2019 we want to reach 2 million users. We are starting our marketing strategy with influencers and brand ambassadors and making partnerships with merchants like restaurants and theatres.”

Visit the Kiki website here.

Andrea Miller, Founder of Slindir

Introduce your app! What’s the product idea, where are you based, and where are you in the startup journey?

AM: “Slindir is the newest dating app designed specifically for fit & active singles.  Why? Because according to Terri Orbuch, the Love Doctor, the role that health & fitness play in your life is one of the key values that, when shared, leads to happiness and stability in a relationship long-term. So it’s no surprise that people who live an active lifestyle want to meet someone like-minded. Our motto is: ‘Active is our DNA, feeling good is our purpose’, because it’s really about a mindset above anything else.

Slindir is designed to give you the most important information up front so you can decide if this person is worth pursuing or not. Isn’t that the point? Where else can you find singles in your area, who like to live an active lifestyle like you, who also swiped right to show you they’re interested. That’s the beauty of dating apps. You’re starting ahead of the game! But not only that, we’ve incorporated videos to showcase personality, activity icons for easy conversation and a unique brain game to see those who are complementary to your personality. It’s about quality over quantity to save you time, but also to set you up for success in the long-term.

And right now, it’s completely free… so you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

We are based in San Diego but gaining traction globally as we speak. Our focus is getting the word out to the right people as quickly as possible so we can help members on their journey to meet someone amazing who will complement their life.”

What stood out about this sector to you as an entrepreneur? Where do you think it’s headed in the next five years?

AM: “Slindir came to life because I tried online dating 5 years ago and right away, I knew it wasn’t niche enough for me. Meeting someone who lived an active lifestyle was my #1 non-negotiable and I wanted to start there. All the other apps were very FEATURE driven and not AUDIENCE driven, so I saw this gap in the market to create something for people like us. And while I’m a big believer in meeting people in person, I know that most people don’t have the confidence to walk up to someone they find attractive.

I also heard that everyone in bars were on their phones! So, if this was the way it was going, I felt it was important to create something that matches on what matters: compatibility. I think you are going to see that niche offerings are the preferred dating app option moving forward because people are beginning to realize that endless options isn’t as great as it appears and it can waste a lot of time causing dating burnout. This is not how it needs to be.  

But creating the right environment for people to meet is only the beginning.  As a certified Date Coach and Matchmaker, I know how important it is to have the right mindset when dating. It’s about being optimistic, open-minded yet clear on what you want, and believing you deserve it. I see the value in not only creating a great product for my members, but helping THEM achieve their relationship goal. We are merely introducing people to each other but it’s ultimately up to them to see it through. Dating is a skill and that’s where coaches like myself can help along the way because I truly care about people’s success in love.”

What are your goals for 2019 and beyond?

AM: “My goal would be for everyone to know about SLINDIR at this very moment! There’s a FREE dating app to meet like-minded singles around you at your fingertips!

But really, I have put my heart and soul into Slindir and the response has been GREAT, so that’s rewarding and keeps me going. And we already have our first success story (that I know of)!  This was a lady who was hesitant at first, but my inner cheerleader came out and I convinced her to give it a try. She has since reached out to me to say: ‘Thank you for convincing me to give Slindir a go. I’ve met an amazing man, we’ve been dating 15 months now and thoroughly enjoy our mutual understanding that showers are for hanging up wet swim gear, doorsteps are for calf stretching and balconies for airing out stinky running shoes.’

Helping bring more couples like this together of any age, any race, any preference makes my day every day!

So within this year, I’d love for Slindir to be the preferred choice for anyone living an active lifestyle looking to meet someone like-minded. I always say, ‘If you don’t put yourself out there, how are people going to find you?!’ Conversation is easy when you share common interests so I want people to feel comfortable, if not excited, about joining Slindir. And I’m always here to help you along the way.”

Visit the Slindir website here.

Scott Harvey

Scott is the Editor of Global Dating Insights. Raised in Dorset, he holds a BA from The University of Nottingham and an MSc from Lund University School of Economics and Management. Previously he has written about politics, economics and technology for various online publications.

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