HowAboutWe just told us some exciting news: it has raised a $15 million Series B round led by Khosla Ventures with participation from RRE, ff Venture Capital and some angels.
While that’s big news, we’re more interested in why investors were willing to put that much money into a year-old startup.
So we spoke with founders Brian Schechter and Aaron Schildkrout about how they’ve grown their site into one that’s worthy of a 8-figure investment.
First, there are a lot of dating sites. So why is HowAboutWe special?
Most dating sites are more awkward than fun. They focus on a user’s relationship status more than on a user’s interests.
HowAboutWe focuses on the fun part of dating — the dates themselves. Users post what they want to do and then see if there are any takers. Profiles are secondary.
“How about we…go to bkln boulders, mess up our hands and then treat ourselves to a piece of paprika peach pie at blackbird..” one user writes. “How about we …go see Gillian Welch at the Beacon theatre on Oct 22. I have two tickets,” writes another.
Users can scroll through feeds until a date suggestion catches their eye. If they’re interested, they can send a message to schedule an offline meeting.
“We want people to go online to get offline,” says Aaron Schildkrout, cofounder of HowAboutWe. “We believe the line between the online world and the offline world is becoming increasingly blurry and that the Internet can be used to meet wonderful people — in person. The dating space is the perfect place to manifest that concept.”
“For the past year, our goal has been two-fold,” says cofounder Brian Schechter. “1) Create the best online dating experience on earth. 2) Solve user acquisition through innovation.”
HowAboutWe launched with that unique vision in April 2010. It was met by a flurry of press interest; Schechter and Schildkrout stole the show at New York Tech Meetup in July 2010.
With that momentum, they raised a $3.2 million Series A round led by RRE in September 2010.
For the past year, HowAboutWe has been quietly chugging along. It relaunched nationally last December and released an iPhone app in June. Within the first week, 50,000 people downloaded the app.
HowAboutWe has also been securing publisher partnerships. It powers personal pages for more than 15 publishers including New York Magazine and Parenting.com and takes a cut of the revenue.
That’s just one form of monetization for the startup. Its subscriber base is steadily growing and HowAboutWe gets more than 1,600 new users per day.
HowAboutWe has grown tremendously with its team of 16 people and without much capital. Last October users sent 24,138 messages on the dating site. Last month 302,047 messages were sent. More than 400,000 dates have been posted on HowAboutWe since its launch.
The past year has been a growth story for the dating site, but what lies ahead is more exciting.
HowAboutWe is one of the few dating sites that wants to reach people of all relationship statuses. It’s been working on a product, TheDateBook, which will become a dating resource for every couple, whether they’ve been together for three weeks or 30 years.
TheDateBook is set to launch early next year. It will ask for a reader’s relationship status then populate date ideas and content based on the feedback. TheDateBook will be complete with dating advice, dating ideas, and dating deals for users to purchase. Publishers like Thrillist will be able to featured dating venues on TheDateBook too.
“We’re building a great way for people too go out on great dates — both for people in relationships and for people who want to be in them,” says Schechter. “We have a kickass online dating business and we know how to grow this thing in a very big way.”
Here’s a never-before-seen screenshot of what TheDateBook might look like: