With JDate going strong for nearly two decades already, it may not be much of a surprise that Jews have their own version of mobile dating app Tinder. It’s called JCrush, and it’s been around for nearly a year.
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The app is produced by Manhattan-based company Crush Mobile, which has 13 employees. Investors have put in around half a million dollars.
The money men are founder Itay Koren and tech chief Yossi Shemesh. The company is run by two Israeli women, Natasha Nova and Sonya Kreizman, who moved to Israel from Russia when they were 12.
Koren, a former basketball player, is a serial entrepreneur with close links at the moment to five companies. He has investments in five more.
He says 100,000 people are now registered for the app's monthly service, around 10,000 of them in Israel. The target audience is ages 18 to 33.
“We’re doing very little marketing work currently,” says Koren. “Most of our work is on the technical side. Most of our users find us by word of mouth, and word has reached Israel, too.”
JCrush is free, but if you want to speed up the dating process, you have to pay.
Nova and Kreizman say they want their community to be more serious than Tinder’s. After all, in niche communities, people are more careful about how they express themselves. If you act inappropriately, people notice.
That’s why, for example, registering for the app is done through Facebook. The goal is to ensure that people don’t fake their identity — just check on Facebook. Tinder allows for anonymity, making people a bit more adventurous.
“When the company came out with the app, the response was so big that our system crashed. We got over the technical issues and relaunched,” says Nova.
“The response was so big, the idea came up that it should be done for other segments of the population like Latinos, African-Americans, baby boomers, gays and lesbians, even dog owners. Dog owners are a huge market. They relate to each other very well. They have a built-in icebreaker. We’ve recently launched apps for these groups.”
Nova and Kreizman put the potential market for JCrush at about half a million people, noting that the other minority and niche groups are the real potential. Such apps could bring in about 2 million users by the end of the year, Nova and Kreizman say.
According to Koren, JCrush has the Jewish people in mind, not just the money; he cites the high assimilation rates in America. Besides, the Jewish community is a very good test market, he says with a smile. Whenever there are problems with the app, complaints roll in immediately.
So couldn’t other companies easily copy the idea?
“That’s definitely possible,” Koren says. “At the same time, our application has unique features that others don’t, like the possibility to upload pictures from Instagram and Facebook.” In any case, JCrush is working on other features.
“We’re focusing on the technological side right now,” Koren says. “Look, there are six or seven companies competing with Tinder that do the same thing, and they’re all big. So there’s room for everybody.”