Vana Koutsomitis, a runner-up on TV show “The Apprentice,” is looking to raise £120,000 for the dating app that she pitched to Lord Sugar in the final of the BBC show.
DatePlay, as the app is known, will use interactive games to try and understand your personality before recommending possible matches for singletons to swipe left or right on.
The app is currently under development and the money will be used predominantly for marketing purposes.
Oxford University graduate Koutsomitis is hoping to raise the capital on equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs, where investors can pledge anything from £10 to more than £10,000.
Koutsomitis is kicking off the crowdfunding campaign on Tuesday and she will have to hit her funding target within a month if she wants to see any of the money. Interestingly, she’s already raised £75,090 of the £120,000 target from a number of private investors and that’s reflected on DatePlay’s Seedrs page, meaning she’s only got to raise another £45,000.
The American-born businesswoman claims her dating app, which she’s cofounded with university friend Joris Magenti, is unlike Tinder, Happn, Match.com, and any other dating platform that’s currently on the market for that matter.
“The difference between DatePlay and the others is that we add an element of fun to the dating experience by integrating games into the interface,” she told Business Insider at the Ham Yard Hotel in London earlier this month. “Tinder can engage you for short periods of time but once you have enough matches and once you’ve swiped left and right enough times, you start to get a little bit crazy. You’re just like, over it.”
Koutsomitis left her job at Japanese investment bank Namora in order to pursue her dream of becoming an entrepreneur and launch DatePlay, which is targeted at 18-24 year olds.
Some 20,000 people have already pre-registered for DatePlay, which is yet to be fully developed and therefore isn’t available in the App Store or the Google Play store.
The app will eventually be free to download but users will have to pay £4.99 a month if they want to access premium features like event invitations, blocked ads, increased messages and being shown at the top of the match list.
Before any matching takes place, DatePlay will get users to play a quick game, which Koutsomitis describes as a “Buzzfeed-style quiz,” in order to determine some of their personality traits.
“You log in and the app takes you directly to the game,” Koutsomitis explained. “So you start playing immediately. Through the game we’re going to determine your personality, who you are, and what you want. And then we’re going to match you. We’ll show you your first match and your compatibility. It’s up to you to then swipe left or right if you like the person or not. We believe that you need to see the person’s photo in order to determine if you’re attracted to them or not so we have the second step.”
Initially there will be just one game in DatePlay but Koutsomitis said more will be introduced in the coming months.
When asked how the game is able to determine a user’s personality traits, Koutsomitis said: “We’re using a PhD to develop the games. It’s based on scientific research. I’m not the scientific expert so it’s hard for me to tell you in an educated way the exact personality matches.”
Harry Briggs, a startup investor that studied psychology at the University of Oxford, told Business Insider that games can be used to identify what kind of personality and behavioural characteristics someone has, such as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, resilience, neuroticism, etc.
“The big question, though, is whether DatePlay’s ‘compatibility score’ is a valid measure of actual dating compatibility,” said Briggs. “The limited research I’ve read suggests that dating outcomes still appear to be most correlated with similar levels of physical attractiveness, societal status and educational background, obvious and unromantic though those sound. It’s no good knowing someone’s personality type if you don’t know what personality types they click best with.”
Briggs added: “If DatePlay can use simple machine learning from the “successful” matches to retrofit matching algorithms onto the personality scores, then they could ultimately create something that gives people a better chance of finding a good match.”