While a number of recent mobile dating apps have tried to get friends to actively matchmake their single mates, no one has yet owned the space.
One app trying to change this is Minneapolis-based SparkStarter, which launched earlier this month.
Similar to apps like Hinge, SparkStarter finds you matches who have similar interests – based on your Facebook information and likes – from your Facebook network and friends-of-friends.
When you log in, you decide whether to search for your own match, or play matchmaker for your friends.
After you input your preferred age range and location, you are shown relevant singles, and register your interest with a Vote Up or Vote Down.
With SparkStarter, you are also shown an OkCupid-style compatibility rank, in a percentage from 0-100.
Here is where SparkStarter offers something different – their patent pending algorithm changes the match compatibility depending on how the singles, and their friendly matchmakers, vote.
Founder and CEO Tony Kramer told GDI that the compatibility score – which is generated using your common Facebook friends, interests, age and location – is impacted “by each vote on that match. So if you and your friends vote up on the match – the score goes up. If you and your friends vote down, the score goes down.”
One problem similar apps have is that asking people’s friends to download an app and spend time aiding a friend’s love life is a tall order- apps have enough trouble signing up singles, let alone their friends as well.
With SparkStarter, the matchmaking aspect is not essential for normal use, however Kramer said in their extensive beta testing the interaction from “non-single friends was much higher than expected”.
He said of the 145,000 profiles they have, 40% signed up to play matchmaker.
We asked him why friends would want to spend their time hooking up friends on a dating app.
He said that in addition to them wanting to help their mates, some also “want to “like” the person their friend is dating, so that they continue to hang out with the friend – even when they are in a relationship with someone.”
Kramer also said their focus and user research showed that friends “often watch their friends swipe through other dating apps. Now they can use one on their own behalf, without the taboo of being on a dating app while in a relationship.”
With SparkStarter, once two singles Vote Up on a match, they are both notified a Spark has been made, and they can chat – like on Tinder.
Regarding monetisation, Kramer said they are testing various ideas which aren’t yet live, but will involve user interactions and a B2B commerce feature.
The app is live in the US and is available on iOS and Android.