Name: Jay Wadhwani
Position & Company: CEO & co-founder, SetMeUp
Can you describe your role and what you do in one sentence?
SetMeUp is a social discovery platform that connects users to new people through their mutual friends, and subsequently curates date suggestions by mapping daily deals against the Social Graph API.
Tell us a little about your company.
We started 2 years ago with the fundamental idea that social accountability was missing in online dating. By connecting people through their mutual friends, we enable others to leverage their own social circle to build relationships. We launched our web app on Nov 1, 2013 with tremendous success, registering more than 20,000 users and 60 million viewable profiles in our database. Our mobile app is expected to release on March 8, 2014.
What is your personal style in business in three words?
It’s a lifestyle.
How did you get into the online dating industry?
I’ve always had a passion for relationship psychology. I’ve studied how to build attraction into meaningful relationships by sharing experiences for the last ten years. I wrote as a Relationship Correspondent for AskMen.com and have been published in front of 7 million people.
What are you most proud of in your role?
That I work with people who are not just co-workers, employees, colleagues, or partners. They are my friends above all else.
What are the biggest challenges the industry faces?
An oversaturated market makes it difficult for innovative products to get recognized. Also, there is a big question in whether dating companies will successfully be able to monetize their mobile apps. If not, the market opportunity will decline and new companies will be discouraged from entering the market place. Silver lining? One problem might solve the other.
What do you believe is the most exciting opportunity facing the industry?
The migration to mobile makes it easier to connect people in real-time. It is a major movement away from algorithm-based dating and towards experiential relationship building. Pretty soon the name “Online Dating” will be dead.
What do you love most about the online dating industry?
Despite the million-bajillion dating apps out there, everyone has the same goal: leverage technology to help people build better relationships.
Which service or company do you admire in the online dating industry?
SetMeUp. No, I’m kidding. I guess I would say Tinder, but for one reason in particular. They did what I always wanted to do, but quicker – they proved college students would use dating apps. The problem with Tinder, however, is that the stigma has now evolved into hookup dating. That works for some people, but for most it doesn’t. Even the people that want to hookup don’t blatantly express that intention. As a result nobody trusts anybody else and the whole system falls apart.
What sets your company apart from others in the industry?
We try to focus on connecting users face-to-face quickly, but with other people they can trust. If you really think about it, that’s an extremely difficult task, since trust is developed over time. Having friends validate a person is the most effective way to develop trust quickly because that’s exactly how it works in real life. You know, “offline” dating.
What does the rest of 2013 hold for your company?
For 2014 we plan on doing a few key things: we will release our mobile apps, and we will be releasing new product features that have the potential to really disrupt the dating space.
Visit SetMeUp here.