Business Models Networking Social Networking

Of Matchmaking and Meddling

I'll Give You All I Can
I'll Give You All I Can -- Credit: flickr / Brandon Christopher Warren

I meet a lot of people who are, or have a hankering to be, entrepreneurs. I don’t, at all. Is that weird?

I do, though, have a hankering to make stuff. And something that I’ve come back to multiple times is dating facilitation. I love matchmaking. I’m terrible at it, but I can’t seem to stop myself.

Notice I didn’t write “online dating”, just dating. Why? Because I think part of the problem with online dating is the online part of it. This makes sense from a business perspective, because online advertising is then another potential source of revenue (although not so much in the current recession) but ultimately the relationship thrives – or dies – offline.

Anyone (anyone!) who has tried online dating seems to have the story about someone who they were exchanging such great and witty messages with… until they met in person and they turned out to be a weirdo, or there was no chemistry, or… whatever – it was a crushing disappointment.

Check out this story about Bookio (warning: Spanish) – an online dating site with a difference. Men can join only by invitation (from a woman), and women can rate their dates. And – see the ratings for potential dates. Wow. Much more innovative. I love it.

Here’s the problem with meeting up in person – you don’t know that person isn’t going to be a sandwich short of a picnic. You want to know who they are, what they do, before you leave the safety of your computer and venture out in public with them. Online dating has a high number of potential matches, so you can’t date all of them! Eexchanging messages allows you to weed ones it’s not worth going for coffee with.

But, I organized two dates this week for other people. OK, one of them fell through and had to be postponed (extenuating circumstances) but it was little more than me saying to the guys – “my friend is nice and cute do you want to go out with her?” And to my friend, “OK, I’ve found you a cute guy, can you go out with him on Wednesday or Thursday?”. Then there was a little more detail – mostly centered around solvent/gainfully employed/not a weirdo. We’ll see how this works out.

Can this scale, though? I’m a “connector”. I know a lot of people, and I love to build links between them. But, my network doesn’t scale. Also, I’m in Computer Science – how many women do you think I know? No, less than that. No, fewer, I’ve only lived in Ottawa for 18 months! Fewer. OK about right. And almost none of them are single.

I know a lot of (straight) single men, though. Seriously. In Ottawa and want a date? Get in touch and I’ll hook you up.

How can this scale? Perhaps the key is in how the two dates for this week’s came about. See I was out with a bunch of people, including – two single guys and another connector. So she was saying how she was trying to set them up but hadn’t had time to write them dating profiles, and I said, oh, someone I know just broke up and perfect, send me your calendar and I’ll arrange a date for you.

Connecting connectors FTW! I guess what I’m envisaging is a local site, where I can exchange details of single people in my network with other connectors. The datee just needs to make preferences clear and share their calendar. We schedule it. This deals with the identity issue – the connector vets the people in their network (any psycho’s reflect badly), and if someone stands up their date, they damage the reputation of their connector. Here’s what I think is key – the online aspect facilitates, but does not dominate.

No revenue model, though.