How About We, a months-old dating service built around proposing and accepting specific date ideas, has been generating an impressive amount of buzz for such a young company, with major write-ups in mainstream media publications including The New York Times and Time Out.
Normally, we don’t pay much attention to online dating startups. There is plenty of money to be made in online dating, but the market is incredibly saturated, with huge, post-IPO incumbents and, as a result, very high user-acquisition costs.
But we think How About We is a company you should actually pay attention to. Here’s why:
- Differentiation. As crowded as the dating industry is, there hasn’t been much innovation in the nature of the basic product. Companies compete by tweaking their matching algorithms or going after particular market segments (from the extremely popular Jdate to the ridiculous Cupidtino). How About We’s focus on activities rather than online profiles is genuinely different, and so far it appears that people take an instant liking to it — hence the mainstream media coverage.
- Great additional revenue possibilities. Like most dating services, How About We makes its money off of subscriptions. But its focus on real world activities creates a potentially huge opportunity for partnerships with date venues. Some early examples of this are already visible on the site. This featured date proposal takes place at a restaurant for which Groupon-clone BuyWithMe is currently offering a coupon. We expect to see a lot more of this in the future.
- Investors like it. Every VC we’ve spoken to over the past few weeks has heard of the company, and none were dismissive of it. Obviously, no one is in a rush to tell us their investment plans, but we’re confident the company will be able to secure a solid series A in the relatively near future.
- There’s an obvious early exit. Like all entrepreneurs, the How About We team no doubt hopes to become massively popular and profitable before holding a giant IPO. But it’s good to have other options. This service has plenty of natural buyers if it catches on. Existing dating sites that feel threatened by the model will find that acquiring the company is a lot easier than duplicating it.
- Social media. How About We lends itself much more readily to user-driven distribution through social networks. Just this weekend, the service added a “Matchmaker” feature which lets users share date proposals with their friends on Facebook and Twitter. We don’t see this being a huge source of traffic for How About We, but it should definitely move the needle.