Grouper Talks Competition, Partnerships, And Why Group Dates Offer Built-In Credibility

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Grouper has been around since 2011, breaking into the world of online dating by forcing a group situation. The service matches you with singles you may enjoy canoodling with, but asks that each party bring two of their friends for a group date-style situation.

But the past year has brought a fierce new round of competitors to the online dating space, such as Tinder and Lulu. We caught up with founder Michael Waxman at Time Inc.’s 10 NYC Startups To Watch party to discuss competition, the value of partnerships, and how Grouper deals with transparency between users.

In Waxman’s opinion, Grouper has a leg up on the competition because it actually facilitates real-life meeting, whereas traditional dating sites and social networks are more focused on letting you message and look at photos.

Grouper has also been focused on partnerships and promotions with other startups such as Airbnb and Uber, though Waxman revealed that the company has actually been quite stingy with partnerships. It’s all about finding the companies who are dedicated to the same mission, which is getting people together offline.

But perhaps most important to Grouper’s success is the model itself, pairing three boys with three girls. While other dating sites like Are You Interested are zeroing in on the friends-of-friends model to keep people honest on their profiles and in real life.

However, Grouper already has that same credibility built right in, since you’re on a date with two friends who know when you’re fibbing or exaggerating.

As the online dating space heats up, and dinosaurs like OkCupid and eHarmony are besieged by the new kids on the block, Grouper is one of the few services that offers a truly differentiated experience. No wonder Time Inc. has an eye on them.