Offline connections with online dating peeps

A few months ago I was unloading some empty boxes to a couple who also worked at Amazon and was about to move. We all carpooled to my house after work, and it came up in conversation that I was an online dating consultant. The gal was like, “Oh really!? I’m friends with the guy who founded Cupidtino!” That totally cracked me up; I’ve always chuckled over their Mac-fan-inspired online dating site, and I love that I now know an actual person who could put us in touch. And that interaction got me thinking… I actually have a few peeps in the online dating site development industry, too! I suppose that shouldn’t surprise you, but I do think it’s kind of funny that these are people I met through totally non-Lovebug-related avenues.

First off, there’s Zoosk. This is an awesome app and service that’s run by a pal of mine Shayan. I guess you could say we met in a proto-online-dating kind of way. Remember Orkut? He reached out to me on Orkut, and I was kind of brokenhearted over this other guy and not ready to date. I told Shayan so on our first pseudo-date, but we got along really well and we kept going on friend-dates over the next few months and explored lots of awesome Seattle cuisine along the way. We drifted after that and he moved down to the Bay Area, first to do some other start-up stuff and then to eventually found Zoosk. I love keeping tabs on his tech industry goings-on, and I’m excited to see what this interesting entrepreneur comes up with next. I think Zoosk started as more of a way to connect singles via networks like Facebook, but it’s a “Romantic Social Network [that] helps you boost your romantic life or help friends and family find romance in their lives.” Cute!

My other weird online dating start-up connection is Nick Soman of LikeBright. Nick and I went to high school together, and he was in my kind of geeky extended posse even though he was a year ahead of me. When I went to college on the east coast, my high school BFF Briana and I took a quick day trip to NYC before we road-tripped home. The very first cafĂ© we set foot in contained Nick and a handful of other people from Bainbridge High School. (True story; I ran into three other people I knew that day in New York Freakin’ City.) Then several years later, I was working a contract in Amazon’s Kindle group, and I kept hearing about this awesome guy Nick Soman who had just quit his Amazon job to start up an online dating company. WHAT?!

So I had coffee with The Infamous Nick, whose start-up office is literally across the street from Amazon. He told me all about LikeBright, and we shared stories and insights and I swore up and down that I would totally write this blog post that I wrote like seven months later. Never too late, right? Anyway, I’m excited about a lot of the stuff LikeBright is doing because a) I know the awesome guy behind it, and b) I think they have the right approach to helping connect people who are a little skittish about online dating in general. He and I nerded out a little bit about how we view online dating and singles’ data, and we had a lot of opinion overlap. I think Nick and his business partner have a great perspective and are making a fantastic service that fosters trust and connection in a way that no other service has succeeded in doing yet. I kinda wish it had existed back when I was single, but then again, I wouldn’t have this satisfying consulting practice if it had all been easy for me!

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