“Maybe the best date I’ve had in a few years. No joke. I really appreciate the work and care Kate put in for this match.” –Tawkify customer
Online dating today often happens one of three unpleasant ways.
1) Endless swiping or scrolling in a digital meat market, send out 60 messages, a few reply, and finally a date after a couple of weeks.
2) Inundation of messages, out of which you’d pick one who doesn’t look like a serial killer, followed by messaging ping pong, and finally a date.
3) Endless swiping, roster of creeps, immediate account deactivation out of frustration. Silver lining: assurance that you’re normal.
At the date, maybe it doesn’t go so well. Maybe he looks nothing like his photo. So you surreptitiously text the guy that you’ve putting on the backburner. It can be exhausting.
This trend led to the founding of Tawkify, a matchmaking company for the digital age founded by an unlikely pair – a 70 year-old sex advice columnist and a 30 year-old tech entrepreneur who earned his stripes at Microsoft.
Tawkify provides a high touch dating experience for its users, giving them quality matches and unique dates with minimal investment by the user. Clients enjoy more privacy than sites where their profiles are publicly browsable while saving stress, effort, and time. In return, the firm charges a monthly subscription.
In many ways, the company bridges the best of the two founder’s worlds: one that may value old fashioned personal connection with one that sees the tremendous promise of technology.
1) Hire and train a network of high quality matchmakers
At the heart of the company is a network of matchmakers hired and trained by co-founder E. Jean Carroll, whose popular dating advice column in Elle Magazine is the longest running magazine column in the country.
Carroll’s deep expertise in dating gives the company a competitive edge, and they sustain it by creating a network from the matchmakers. If a matchmaker finds someone that’s a better fit for a teammate’s client, she would pass on the contact. Once a week, the firm gets all matchmakers together on a video conference dubbed Tawkify Cafe, where they help each other improve by sharing news, success stories, and strategies.
2) Use technology to enable client experience and matchmaker efficiency
To screen clients, the startup hired Microsoft and Stanford engineers to build a simple and clear web experience that clients have come to expect of consumer internet companies today.
For the matchmakers, Tawkify built search and database technologies to help them collaborate and find the best match from their database. In addition, the company built a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to help matchmakers keep track of client dates and preferences.
3) Provide a concierge service
By studying successful startups’ onboarding processes, Tawkify designed a simple and engaging onboarding experience.
Clients first sign up for the service and answer ten questions on the Tawkify website. If they pass the initial screen then they meet with their matchmaker in person to talk about ex-boyfriends, favorite dates, and dating preferences. Along the way, clients receive a high touch service. The matchmaker searches through the company database, reaches out to personal networks, and goes out to meet people – one found a great guy at a stand-up paddleboarding meetup.
The matchmaker then schedules and plans a unique date. For one client’s first date, Tawkify set up an appointment at Tiffany’s and instructed the two strangers to pretend to register for their wedding together.
Before and after each date, the matchmaker also offers advice, coaching, and follow-ups to find out what worked and what didn’t work.
4) Capturing value with a simple subscription model
For all the work, the company charges about $600 a month – hefty compared to online dating sites that usually charge less than $100 a month, but not so much compared to the tens of thousands that a traditional matchmaker might charge.
And the model is working, as the site boasts tens of thousands of clients. More importantly as a measure of engagement, 81% of clients go on a second date with matches. One client gushed, “Aw, come on. [My matchmaker] Angie is great. I keep subscribing. I recommend others because Angie’s so real. I feel like she’s really in my corner.”
Tawkify’s technology and processes align with their value proposition to create an effective operation. In this way, it has made traditional matchmaking more efficient while retaining the charm of an offline experience.
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