Friday, October 2, 2015
inviteUP: Moving Mobile Dating Beyond Endless Texting Into Real Life Dates
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
If you've ever used one of the more popular, mobile dating apps, you are probably used to the endless, back-and-forth texting that occurs when everyone is sizing each other up and deciding if they do, or do not, want to actually go on a date. That delay can be extremely frustrating to both men and women interested in truly connecting with each other, but who just don't know how. Los Angeles-based InviteUP (www.inviteup.com) is hoping to solve that problem, with its own, mobile dating app—which centers its matches around actual places and times for meeting at coffee shops, restaurants, movies, and more. The startup, was founded by two brothers, Mitch and Avi Kahan, who told us how they hope the app can cut the endless texting loop and actually get people to dates to figure out if they click.
Mitch Kahan: When we first created InviteUP, dating was a very arduous process. It took countless hours, and there was a lot of back and forth, women were getting their mailboxes apammed every day, and there were just overloaded by the process. As a guy, it was the same thing. You'd have to message so many people in order to just get one or two replies, and oftentime, that just wouldn't pan out. We wanted to create something fun, something exciting, which wasn't such a painful process, to make dating much easier, more fun, and mostly more efficient.
What's different about what your app does compared to others?
Mitch Kahan: With out app, the locations are set up in advance. What I noticed with other apps, talking with girls, is it took a lot of messaging back and forth, often taking weeks, before you could actually agree on a place to have a date, and there would be lots of drop off. What we set up to do on the site was to set everything up in advance, so if you wanted to go to a specific restaurant, all you do is post a restaurant date and time and see if any girl is interested. They can look at me and my profile, and match up with me. We also have chat, but it's only two or three days in the app before a date takes place.
How did the idea come about for centering this on a specific meeting place?
Mitch Kahan: I think that one of the things I noticed when I was talking to people, that I thought it was just men who wanted to get out there and meet people, and that girls were not willing to go on a date without talking to someone first and getting to know them. Then, talking with my female friends, I realized they actually hated all of the same back and forth texting as I did. The reason why, is you just don't get to know people by texting them. Originally, I thought that was what all the messaging back and forth was all about. You can text people, and you think that 95 percent of the people you are texting seem fine, but you figure out as soon as you meet them that you don't like them, because there isn't that initial spark and chemistry. We wanted to get you out there on a date, so that even if it doesn't work you, you at least aren't wasting your time with weeks of messaging.
Why would someone use your app, instead of Tinder and others?
Avi Kahan: For one thing, if you're single and want to go t a new movie that came out, our apps let you do that in a much, much more efficient way than Tinder. You just let people know that you want to go there on a Friday night, and anyone else who wants to go there can come. Also, if you have a specific place, or movie, or events you want to go to, and don't have someone to go with, by setting a place we are able to match you up to someone with the same interests. Tinder is really about whether you are hot or not. With our app, you can see if someone is good looking, but you can also see if they have similar interests.
Has that thing about common interests been lost with the new trend in dating apps?
Avi Kahan: I think you have to have some kind of compatibility other than looks, whether that's hiking, or sushi, or something else, something to connect you with that other person. We're trying to build that, because that's what's been missing in the online dating industry.
What were you two doing before InviteUP?
Avi Kahan: I went to UCLA where I got my JD. But, I knew I didn't want to be a lawyer. So, Mitch and I started doing our own thing, and had a few real estate projects, a couple of restaurants. A couple of years ago, I got the idea to work on dating. I had gone on dating sites, I was on Jdate awhile back ,and ran into similar problems. I wanted to date faster. We said---what if we prearrange a date? We both really liked the idea, and started doing development and programming, and here we are today.
Mitch Kahan: I graduated from USC, the cross town rivals with Avi. We knew lots of people in real estate, so we started doing deals on the side. I debated law school and business school, but I started out with real estate. Avi and I have always worked together throughout our lives, collaborating at businesses. I saw a whole bunch of my friends truggling with dating. When we started, Tinder was not out there, it was more the traditional sites. I saw my friends sending out hundreds of form emails, and was a huge process. We kept thinking about how we could make dating more simple and more efficient. Originally, we weren't even thinking about creating an app, we were just thinking about figuring out what was wrong with the process, and how to make it simple and make it beter. I thought about the idea, ran it past my brother and others, and here we are.
How has it been founding a company as brothers?
Mitch Kahan: Working with family is always fun. I think that is because we both have very different strengths. Because we've worked together on a lot of products, we figured out we work well with each other. I am definitely not as organized as my b rother. He kind of has to stay on top of me to do tasks. I think that we work together well. He's more conservative, I'm a risk taker and gambler, and that helps cancel each other out.
Avi Kahan: I completely agree. We're really good about letting the other be in charge of something, and the other one of us doesn't try to get involved and micromanage things.
What's next on your plate?
Avi Kahan: We have an updated iOS release next, though I must say the process at Apple is a little annoying. We actually submitted that release last Friday, and hopefully it will be out by this Friday, where we just fixed some login issues to users who deny geolocation. After that, we are going to begin advertising, both digitally and in person, and work on our Android app. That's close to done. We're going to start marketing this, and see whether people like it or not.
Mitch Kahan: It's all about marketing. We're focusing on the app, tweaking it, and perfecting I. It's been a long process, and more complex than anticipated. We're focusing all of our energy on that. We're finally drawing towards the end of that process, and are ready to go hard on marketing.
What one piece of advice would you give to people who are dating, given what you've seen so far with your service?
Mitch Kahan: You just have to go out there, get out there and be yourself. A lot of the time, people are hesitant, and scared, and apprehensive before a date. Once you are there on the date, it's easy, and the conversation flows. If it doesn't, that person probably was not right for you. People just need to get out there, in the field.
Avi Kahan: I'd say the same thing, plus the people you see in those pictures don't always look like what they actually are like. You just need to spend fifteen minutes at coffee with someone, and meet with enough people to give it a chance to work. Every single person you meet out there is not going to be the love of your life, so if you can just meet 20, 30, or 40 people, you increase your odds and your chances of success are good.