Are You Interested has been in the online dating game since 2007, predominantly focused on the Facebook platform as a way to connect people through the internet. The company has been relatively quiet in the past year, but is now speaking up after launching a new feature in the past few weeks that connects you with friends of friends.
Other online dating startups have added similar features — Coffee Meets Bagel in particular comes to mind — but AYI is the first company with any true scale to implement the feature. And according to founder and CEO Cliff Lerner, “the results have been nothing short of tremendous.”
There are over 20 million Facebook profiles connected to AYI and 3 million active users per month, making it one of the largest and most relevant dating sites in admittedly, a sea of matchmaking wannabees. And since they implemented their friends of friends feature in March, AYI boasts that over 2 million connections have been made through the new feature. Over 72,000 users have been directly messaging their friends to ask about a potential date. Of course, we don’t really know how many connections AYI makes on a monthly basis, so we can’t conclusively say if this friends of friends feature is as popular amongst AYI’s users as the company makes it seem. Still, 2 million is a pretty big number.
AYI is simply capitalizing on a trend that been permeating through dating sites as of late. Matching friends of friends is the “next big thing” of online dating, and there have been a number of startups that have been clamoring for attention with this as their headline feature. At the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator’s NYC Demo Day this year, one of the startups in the ERA’s graduating class was Acquaintable, a dating startup that links to Facebook and matches friends of friends together. It’s a shame that AYI seems to have stolen its thunder with its already well established user base.
Another little startup that’s been around since last year is Coffee Meets Bagel, and it could be said that they were the first ones to match friends of friends together, albeit at a much smaller scale. Like clockwork, every day at noon Coffee Meets Bagel introduces you to one of your mutual friends. It’s kind of like a “daily deals” for dating.
The appeal of matching mutual friends together, and the reason why it’s taken off to such a degree, can be summarily condensed to one word: honesty. When AYI polled its users last year, the results displayed widespread dissatisfaction. “People were disenchanted with current dating experience,” says Lerner. “Especially women.” 56 percent of their polled users didn’t enjoy online dating, including 77 percent of women. A majority of users said people lied on their profiles.
It’s true. When you’re hiding behind a computer, anyone can make themselves to be some kind of dreamy, Jon Hamm-clone. What AYI found when they introduced their friends of friends feature was that honesty was suddenly a problem their users didn’t have to worry about anymore. People were less liable to lie on their profiles when they were connected to potential mates through their friends. “People prefer to meet through their friends,” says Lerner. “It’s logical and it just makes sense.” AYI claims that 41 percent of their female user base are more likely to message a man when they have mutual friends.
If anything, AYI’s self-proclaimed success with friends of friends tells us that this new method of matchmaking is here to stay. Expect to see a friends of friends feature making its way to your own personal dating network very, very soon.