Nathan Millard (@Nathan_Mill) for beLAUNCH (South Korea) asks “What is your key tip for this week?”
Online dating? No online dating? Online dating without saying we are online dating? After tons of feedback, and never-ending social insights, it’s not getting any easier to come to a decision. Time to go to our quiet places and getting back to basics.
Natawon and I created Dipify — an online serendipity messenger— not because we understood singles; we did it because we understood anybody who is impulsively social or in need of a social tune up. Those are the people we dealt with in 3 years of running singles’ events, not speed dating.
We always believed in order to meet interesting people, you need to do interesting things. With Dipify we re-created the environment we used to connect people around activities. So when you talk to somebody on Dipify it’s as natural as doing something and being introduced by a friend. After all, it’s what you do (not say) that socially rewards you.
Best friends and storied romances can come from anywhere. (I’ve heard stories of people dating off of WoW). Social serendipity can happen any day you go out, explore and enjoy— the world is your playground, and the net is a never-ending party. People just need to find the perfect excuses to come up and say something positive or relevant.
It’s hard to be yourself, socially or professionally. One needs courage to experiment; and conviction to see it through.
The initial concern with sticking to our roots is that anything outside of sex and true love have no strong marketable appeal. Got drama? On the Dragons’ Den (The Canadian version of ‘Shark Tank‘), Kevin O’Leary asked a young entrepreneur, in the friendship space, “where’s the hot action?” And Bruce Croxon (Lavalife) agreed. On the other hand, marketing executives have told us, “there is no room in the dating industry for puritans.” While another goes on to say, “there is no room in the dating space, Period!”
It’s scary to do something new. Dipify has never been done before. People try to understand the world by association and comparison. And what we compare online interaction with the ick of online dating, such as losers, profile smashing and privacy invasion. Plus it’s hard for people to imagine not constantly feeding a profile in order to get results; just as it’s hard to sometimes let life take it’s course.
However, Dipify isn’t about invading the dating kingdom, nor advocate platonic relationships. We are creating another dimension to your online life— filled with new opportunities to chat and be inspired with what’s in front of you— to be connected with this moment only. We don’t need any more reasons to go to the Superbowl. We cheer for the ‘right team’ to feel connected with the team and the crowd. If we get lucky as well… that’s bonus!
We want to inspire people to think of what could be. There are so many coincidences out there; so many opportunities to be connected. It’s almost fun to imagine and make shit up.
Who knows what will come from a late night chit chat— storied romance, shacking up with a family in San Jose, waiting for the parents to sleep *Ahem* or maybe be journeying the great america highways in search of clarity from a ‘burning man’ of some sort. We could find ourselves mixing with a new crowd, or simply finding new hobbies. Maybe nothing at all. But one thing is certain our stories are a bit fuller with each passing character.
If a snowboard clip on YouTube can inspire me change my life, what could it do for anybody else? Now my friends and I are into new tunes, hanging out with new people, and exploring new terrain. A year prior to that video, we didn’t even snowboard. That’s the power of collective excitement. That is serendipity.
Good things may happen when you live life and Dipify.
For a startup, pivots and redesigning are costly.
As a precaution, there is strong emphasis from everybody for you to get feedback on your product. But nobody really tells you when/where to draw the line on some of the feedback you receive.
You shouldn’t be afraid of feedback. But sometimes you need to learn to ‘take things with a grain of salt’ before it really starts to affect your progress.
The more feedback the better. However, don’t let an odd comment here change your mind. You can’t be something to everybody. Please the majority after you obtain a larger sample size (if you can).
People naturally don’t like change. Give new things time to sink in. Flat designs is one of the most often challenged design concept on our side. I recent received feedback that flat design was confusing.
It’s too lofty of a goal for people to understand your product just by looking at your app. Set realistic expectations. A big part of educating people, begins with marketing. Would you initially know what a broom does, just by looking at it?
Don’t pull your hair out focusing too hard on tutorials. Work on enticing people to click for themselves. People learn best through trial and error. A lot of people tend to skip tutorials, anyways.
There is no such thing as a solicited, honest opinion. When you ask somebody to criticize. That is exactly what they are going to do. People are going to over-analyze. Just like haters gonna hate.
Prequalifying people isn’t cut and dry. Not everybody, including friends, is enthusiastic enough to put any effort into something you shoved in their face. Don’t mistaken the unenthusiastic for the average “idiots”. Not every single person wants to provide feedback on a dating site. They would have found the standard menu button if they tried.
Sometimes you just trust your gut— unless you truly don’t know what you are doing. The worst feeling is finding out you were initially right, after going full circles or missing the boat entirely. In the end of the day you have nobody to blame but yourself.
Innovation takes courage and conviction. I believe these lessons hold true even for our own personal development.
The singles’ and dating is certainly the most fascinating industry. It offers so many insights on how comically complex our social lives really are.
Ladies are looking for good guys! When I invited friends to my first public event, everybody’s initial thinking was it’s a sausage party. But singles’ events are no typical club night promotions. And when the day came, the guys were nowhere to be found, and girls rolled up on droves, asking “where are all the guys?” At a typical event, women outnumbered guys 3-to-1. Especially if the events are paid ($50-$100). We weren’t the only one; other companies were asking for our helps to recruit guys! (If they only knew…)
It’s not quite so skewed in online dating however. Paid dating sites are close to 50/50! Despite what we may feel when it comes time to check our inboxes.
Whether we offered a paid membership, or paid events, women were more likely to pay. For whatever egotistical reason, guys are cheap. That is why we experienced the 3-to-1 women ( mentioned above). I investigated this phenomenon. And the unanimous answer I got was that women believe you get what you paid for. Women commonly believe a paid event weeds out cheapskates and deadbeats. Men don’t believe women are willing to spend on dates, but in reality women may spend more on their hair the night of, than the actual event.
It’s no coincidence that free sites are dominated by men.
No, I’m not just taking up space here. It’s really shocking to discover some singles’ agencies and activity groups charge upwards of $5.6k for an annual membership (more if you live in China). However, about 20% of those who walk through the door can see the investment and ante up a chunk of their higher disposable income. (Or finance…) And that is why online dating seems like an all out money fight between giants.
Online dating (paid or free) is also expensive when you consider the time and your odds. eHarmony makes an estimated $72k for each marriage ($275M annual revenue in 2012). How else could they justify a $59M marketing spend in the first half of 2014? At least the money goes into recruiting more potential
victims matches (maybe).
In a joint survey with almost 2000 members, we asked members to prioritize their goals out of 3 choices. An overwhelming 81% wanted to make friends first (true love being the common second choice). Only 11% actually were hoping true love justified the membership prices. Only 8% were looking to explore new interests. They are paying good money, why would they lie?~
It is a surprising contrast to online dating. One can’t deny the fact, there really isn’t a marketable industry for online friendship. Any experienced marketing executive can tell you that.
Men and women can’t seem to get on the same page at the same time. Much like our sexual peaks. Although we saw more women than men in our memberships, they were generally older than the guys. Women typically were more motivated after 26 years— more so as their friends start having children. The experience is opposite for men. Young men spend their youth chasing down the women However the roles reverse around after… *gasp* 26 years! Then men are the hot catch. So don’t worry, guys. It gets better. Young ladies, please be kinder to the young men.
This sad trend continues into online dating. OKtrends found women have a spike in age preferences at 20 and 29 years. Too bad men fixate their attentions on women younger and younger as they get older and older. Because of this inverse, “statisticially speaking a women’s desirability peaks at 21 years” in online dating. Yikes!
The biggest problem in dating is not finding time; it’s finding the excuse to act. What happens when we cram a bunch of single people into the same place? The initial impulse for many is to grab hold of something familiar and hang on tight the rest of the night. If it weren’t for hosts, events could turn into high school dances pretty quickly— people grouping up or genders dividing into corners. Those who don’t find a place, lash out. (really)
Many of our members praised online dating as more comfortable, and convenient. However, online dating is like stuffing a bunch of adults into a virtual gymnasium. People still need to find the courage.
One membership isn’t going to stop someone from joining another. People don’t give up on companionship, nor do they limit their chances to one company. We often bump into members on some of our inter-company events, sometimes off meetup promotions. Which brings me to one of my most important point:
In online dating, I’ve seen startups get at each others throats. What’s with all the hate, in an industry about love? There really is no need. The big dogs seem to get along and cash in on each other. Ever see a Match.com ad on POF? (it’s that BIG one after you log out) Unless startups can collaborate and play nice, there won’t be another indie internet dating site. So reach out!
Everyday I see online dating startups ignore these fundamentals. I hope some of these experiences inspire fresher startups fixate their attention into the right places. And I hope this has been a humbling (not frightening) read for the rest of you
Shout out to Natawon (whom I got the pleasure of working with all these years in the industry.)
Something about online dating that makes us all sound so desperate. Even in movie cameos, it’s always to provide dates for comical misfits, like Felonious Gru.
There is a pattern to the mechanics of online dating. Submit a pubic profile. Thumb through a catalog. Force out something witty to say. The details and context change, but that’s usually as far as it goes. No matter how you swing it, online dating is essentially an online classifieds, 80’s dating videos, and everything in between. It feels desperate. But the young startup can think-out-side the box and break the cycle— excuse me, they should.
Dating is an adventure, not a chore to get out of the way. It’s something that should be fun. We should be able to laugh, be surprised, and hopefully get excited, like a night out. If online dating (or making friends) could be as natural as watching youtube, we why would we even want it to end? It’ll just be like life. And finding love would seem like serendipity.
Online dating is always going to have it’s traditional, match-making practices (if it isn’t broken, why fix it?). But after all the niches and gimmicks, there is only a small window for humble startups to stand next to the industry giants. Startups need to forget perfecting an old model (profile matching) against the big players, millions of dollars and years of experience. New ideas need to be focused on making online dating less like … online dating.
Dipify takes a crack and online serendipity, connecting you to awesome people based on what you do online.
There is too much going on in our hands, wrists, eyes, and ears these days. How can new app developers compete for our limited time?
So much emphasis is put on ‘stickiness’. For the moment, lets shift our attentions away from the search for the next great time waster. After all, Technology should compliment our lives; not take us away from them. Allow me to introduce ‘Passive UX’.
As technology is getting more comprehensive, and plentiful, new apps are going to need to work intuitively to be competitive.