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Could Online Dating Evolve Through Facebook?

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    AP
    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Thursday, March 7, 2013. Zuckerberg unveiled a new look for the social network's News Feed, the place where its billion users congregate to see what's happening with their friends, family and favorite businesses.

    I’ve never done it, but online dating looks stressful. The commercials make it seem easy enough: fill out a personality test, pay some money and boom—hello, soulmate. Call me a skeptic, but I have my doubts.

    What if your soulmate isn’t an online dater? What if The One is an online dater, but not on the same site? What if the algorithm fails and instead of being matched up with the love of your life you get matched with a whack job? At those odds, the monthly subscription fee doesn’t sound worth it.

    Where can online daters turn? The ones in New York, San Francisco and Boston already have the answer, and starting next week singles in Chicago, DC and LA will too.

    Coffee Meets Bagel takes a refreshing approach to online dating by taking features from sites like Groupon and Gilt Groupe, creating a Facebook-friendly algorithm and finding you matches based on your friend network rather than pairing you up with an utter stranger.

    Here’s how it works: after signing up, answering a few questions and connecting to your Facebook (to access friends of friends, not to spam your timeline), you get one match, or “bagel,” every day at noon. You can either like or pass, but you only have 24 hours to decide before the match expires. Once a mutual connection is made you and your bagel are redirected to an SMS portal that keeps your numbers anonymous so you can set up a date within one week. You can purchase “coffee beans” for one penny each to unlock perks within the site, like seeing who and your bagel’s mutual friends are, requesting a rematch and viewing who passed on you.

    The service was started by three sisters who aimed to reinvent online dating by taking the opposite approach to the industry than traditional sites like eHarmony and Match.com. CMB will celebrate its one-year anniversary in April and has already seen exponential monthly growth and 70 percent user retention.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how CMB will do with the Chicago market, but a word of warning to the older crowd: 91 percent of users are 35 or younger, so if that’s not your particular cup of coffee look elsewhere.

    Adam Fridman is the founder of MeetAdvisors.com, a social network for entrepreneurs. MeetAdvisors allows for professionals to give free advice to those seeking help with their business ventures. Forbes has coined MeetAdvisors "Yelp for entrepreneurs." Armed with a Master of Science in Finance and experience in corporate finance and investment banking, Adam spent the past 10 years tackling a number of ventures with a focus on business development and strategy.