YouLike Is A Dating Site That Thinks The Key To Finding Love Is Hate

Ok, admittedly, the headline is a slight misrepresentation. However, in the best online dating tradition, not only did it hopefully catch your attention but it has more than a grain of truth, too.

YouLike, a startup backed by the founders of Turkish eBay clone GittiGidiyor (which in 2011 was acquired by the online auction giant for $217 million), describes itself as an interest-based social network and dating site that takes into account a user’s dislikes, as much as what they do like, when helping to find like-minded people to friend or date.

Unlike a lot of other dating sites that ask you to fill out a lengthy and data-heavy questionnaire or simply pen an open-ended profile, YouLike presents a series of fun questions ranging from what activities you love or hate, your food and entertainment tastes, or your relationship preferences. Each question requires a simple multiple choice response — “love”, “like”, “dislike”, “hate”, or “skip” — which forms the basis for how YouLike matches users.

YouLike_rate_layerThis home-grown approach to generating a user’s interest graph is also intended to produce less so-called dirty data that simply importing a user’s Facebook ‘Likes’ (a technique used by other dating sites and interest-based social networks) can produce. Not only is the site intentionally starting out clean, but Zuckerberg’s social network famously lacks a ‘Dislike’ button, which for YouLike’s match-making purposes would only tell half the story. After all, they do say that opposites attract.

So, for example, YouLike might ask a user to rate an activity related to “cooking” or “shopping”, or to express their disposition to “waking up early” or “never being late”. Other questions drill down to a user’s dating preferences more explicitly, such as “a guy should always make the first move” or whether or not “kissing on the first date” is the done thing.

This data is then employed when visiting another user’s profile. Members can compare their rated likes and dislikes with those of a prospective match. The results are displayed as “you both like”, “you both dislike”, “you like but he/she dislikes”, and “you dislike but he/she likes”.

The idea is to surface not only a user’s interests but their “morals, habits and beliefs… and the things that make them angry or happy,” says the Istanbul-based startup. Arguably that’s a much better reflection of how people really click (or don’t) in real life, since not all differences of opinion or taste are weighted equal in importance and aren’t necessarily a deal-breaker when it comes to matters of the heart.

However, whether or not this amounts to enough of a USP for YouLike to cut through the plethora of online dating sites (or broader interest-based social networks) that already exist is a different question entirely. It’s also a question that YouLike isn’t shying away from. “Online dating is a highly saturated industry with many competitors fighting to find people looking for love online,” says YouLike co-founder Levent Gültan. “Many start-ups try to differentiate themselves by playing the innovation card, however very few to none has successfully replicated the track record of OkCupid or HowAboutWe.”

As canned statements go, that’s an unusually honest appraisal of the status quo and the difficulty faced by any new entrant in the online dating sector. But that isn’t stopping Gültan and YouLike’s other co-founders, which include Ersan Özer who previously founded a Turkish dating network, from giving it a shot. In the end, however, the site’s success will ultimately hinge on if users like, dislike or skip it entirely.