I haven’t online dated in a while*, but everyone I know who does it laments the current state of matchmaking technology. When being able to swipe right to express interest in a person is a major technological achievement, you know something is broken.
Y Combinator alum The Dating Ring thinks it has a better way of getting people to meet one another and hopefully start dating, by matching up users in groups of six. After several months of operating in New York City, the startup has brought its group match making service to San Francisco.
The service works like this: Users do an initial consultation with one of the Dating Ring’s matchmakers, and then the company sets them up on a series of dates with five other single people. (For now, it’s three men and three women on each date.)
Initial matchmaking consultations are $25, and each date costs $20. After the specify dates and times available, The Dating Ring sends users invites to group dates. Those dates usually last about two hours at informal meeting places — like casual bars and restaurants — where people can get to know each other better.
The hope is that by having a larger group all meet each other, there’s a higher likelihood of two people hitting it off than there would have been with just two people. (Grouper, also a YC alum, does the same thing, but without the matchmaking.)
Once the dates are done, they give feedback on the other folks who were on the date, and let the company know if there were any attendees they were interested in.
According to co-founder Lauren Kay, the company chooses matchmakers based on their emotional intelligence and receptiveness. The belief is that they are better qualified to accurately determine what users are like than those users would be in some sort of self-reporting manner.
On the back end, The Dating Ring has algorithms that use information from its matchmakers to decide who to place on dates with each other. That data only gets better as it also receives feedback from other members of the dates.
Now that The Dating Ring is in San Francisco, it’s trying to determine where to go next. Kay said it’s looking at cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington, D.C. The hope is that by connecting more people with each other, it might make dating a little more bearable everywhere.
* See here for context