Swipe left, swipe right.
That’s how many people "date" these days. And often, the people doing the swiping won’t actually meet in-person for weeks—or ever.
Whim, a new app from OkCupid alum Eve Peters, wants to take daters back to the basics, but with the modern spin. Instead of just swiping and chatting, the app sets up actual, face-to-face dates. Users plug in when they're free, who they like on the app, and when Whim finds two mutually interested daters, it arranges the meet. Only when users are set up for a date in a mutually agreed upon time and place are they able to chat (albeit through their personal numbers).
Peters started the venture two years ago when she left OkCupid with the hope of creating a platform to solve a major problem with dating via app: After spending hours messaging prospective mates, users often end up disappointed when they discover that there's no in-person connection—or because the messages never led to a date in the first place.
“Other apps are really messaging platforms and we are all about getting people right to face-to-face,” says Peters, who previously founded Mixtt, a now-defunct group dating app. “We believe that’s what matters most.”
Others in the industry agree that going from online to in-person in a major pain point. “The goal of online dating is very specific,” said Julie Spira, founder of cyberdatingexpert.com. “It’s very successful when you take the relationship from online to offline.”
To break through the very crowded marketplace of online dating apps, Whim will need to carve out a specific audience. Laurie Davis, founder and CEO of dating concierge service eFlirt, suspects that Whim may be able to find a niche with would-be daters who are focused on a serious relationship—"something that the apps are really lacking these days,” she says.
Peters envisions the average Whim user as a 25- to 35-year-old professional who doesn’t have time to waste with endless messaging. The startup, which currently has eight employees, has only launched in San Francisco and the Bay Area so far. Peters hopes to expand the app to LA in the next two months and then New York City in the next three to four months. The app is free for now, but Peters plans to begin charging a subscription fee of $10 per month eventually. However, she says those who sign up now will be able to stay fee-free for as long as they use the app.
Whether or not Whim will succeed is likely to hinge largely upon its ability to deliver on the promise of creating an in-person connection for users. According to author and relationship expert and consultant Susan Winter, that's the holy grail for the latest generation of dating apps.
“We are in a refinement stage,” she says. “I think all of this technology proves that people want real connections. Each new incarnation [of apps] is looking to find a way to create that for today’s world.”
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