Startup of the Week / FixMeUp With Mr. or Ms. Right

Israeli start-up aims to do for online dating what LinkedIn did for business contacts. Did you know you're a Simple Cupid in the making?

You want to interest a potential investor in a new project. But you can hardly cold-call somebody who’s never heard of you. Best is to find a trusty broker who knows both sides and can arrange a meeting.

Liaising, a common practice in the business world, was brought to Internet by LinkedIn, a company now worth billions. Now how about migrating this to the world of love?

Having a reference is just as important in the world of dating. A wo/man flirting with a wo/man is more likely to succeed if a mutual friend has put in a good word.

It makes sense, yet online dating so far has been largely the fief of people who don't know each other, who make contact based on profiles that can be works of utter fantasy. Now the Israeli start-up FixMeUp is doing for dates what LinkedIn did for business contacts: utilizing people's web of shared acquaintances for the sake of romance.

FixMeUp's founding team includes CEO Moish Levin, Guy Gamzu, Chief Technology Officer Uri Parush, Chief Information Officer Itzik Rousso and Chief Design Officer Ofri Treisman.

"The project is based on the principle of 'the strength of weak ties,'" says Levin.

A web of second-degree acquaintances opens up a lot of possibilities.

"Say I go to a good friend's birthday party. I have a smaller chance of meeting a potential mate because I probably already know everyone there," Levin says. "I have a better chance of making a match at the party of a friend of a friend."

FixMeUp is a Facebook app that exposes the user to friends of friends on Facebook, as opposed to apps that show you random people from say Turkey, says Levin.

To put users at ease, when a guy or girl is interested in someone's picture they must click on the person's name and on the photo of a mutual friend that can recommend them and evaluate the match's prospects.

Then the person in the original photo receives a message in the Facebook inbox indicating that someone is interested in them. The message provides the name of the mutual friend they can ask for a reference.

At a more advanced stage, a virtual date can be set up through the app, with the mutual friend serving as a virtual chaperone.

Simple Cupid fixing up friends through gamification

The app also has a FixUp track that enables users to fix up two of their friends.

The benefit to users is clear: a greater chance of finding love. But why would anybody help them? To give potential matchmakers an incentive, the company uses the principle of gamification - the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts.

A matchmaker receives the moniker Cupid and accumulates titles as the matches they make succeed. A beginner matchmaker starts as Simple Cupid. As the matchmaker progresses, he or she receives recognition in different ways: a specially designed virtual thank you note or perhaps, in the future, a gift.

To fix two people up is rather a big deal in real life. "Should I introduce them to each other? What if it doesn't work out?" says Levin. "We want to turn it into something simple and easy-to-do."

Matchmaking, the business model

FixMeUp has two proposed business models. The first is based on ad revenue and selling virtual goods to users. Currently the app presents users' Facebook photos but the company is also considering enabling users to create, and upgrade for pay, online avatars.

A second proposed business model would move the company beyond the virtual realm and into partnerships with other companies in the real world.

"The app would identify users in Paris, for instance, and offer them a discount at a nearby café," says Levin. "It would also be possible to send the matchmaker a gift from some business establishment."

Founded in 2012, FixMeUp has signed up 1,700 members in Israel since going online two months ago. It's looking to add users and raise additional funds.

With four employees and an office in Herzliya Pituach, the company received pre-seed stage funding from Gamzu, a well-known angel investor. Gamzu has been involved with some of the biggest exits in Israeli high-tech, including the sales of automated anti-fraud systems maker Fraud Sciences to PayPal, semiconductor solutions provider Provigent to Broadcom Corporation and information security provider Breach Security to Trustwave Holdings.

 

For more info, check out https://apps.facebook.com/fixmeupapp

AP
Reuters