New Dating App Goes Past the Swipe

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For reasons pandemic and beyond, this is a challenging time to be a single person. In fact, some recent polls and studies indicate that many people are accepting and even celebrating their single status, and dropping any thoughts of finding a partner.

Much about this can well be seen as a good thing. Removing any lingering stigma about being single is one big plus. Further, people who have developed a positive relationship with themselves, and gotten past any sense of “needing” another person in their life, ironically are often most capable of developing positive relationships with others.

Still, the human desire for love, friendship and partnership remains strong – also a good thing, since the survival of our species does actually depend on it. Yet the challenge of finding and connecting with new people remains, in many ways, greater than ever.

Stepping up to help address this problem is a new type of dating app called Filteroff. Founder and CEO Zach Schleien describes Filteroff as “a video speed-dating app. We set up virtual events where people can have three to five minute live video interactions with each other. We really provide people with an experience of each other. At the end, you see if you like each other, and if so, you then follow up.”

Initially, Filteroff focused on creating events for people within specific cities, but has recently widened its focus to be event and holiday-based as well. Schleien cited the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day as recent examples.

“It’s a great way to meet like-minded people,” he pointed out. “People who like football can connect over the Super Bowl.”

Locally, Filteroff set up a couple of virtual events for Mardi Gras, and will also have sessions for the NCAA Final Four and Jazz Fest. For Carnival, one session was aimed more towards locals, while the other spread a national net to draw in people from elsewhere who might be coming here for the festivities.

“The video call allows you to connect more deeply than just swiping through some photos and profiles,” noted Schleien. “You get more of a sense of who the other person is. The goal is that you would then want to meet up in person.”

Indeed, while the more basic apps are notorious for profiles that are at best exaggerated and photos that are somewhere between highly flattering, considerably outdated or even someone else altogether, a live video conversation is much more grounded in reality.

“We do our best to provide a really safe and authentic experience,” Schleien stated, adding that the company also has robust reporting mechanisms if problems do occur and also uses a proprietary algorithm to weed out bad actors.

The authenticity piece definitely matters to Schleien, who recounted the story of a member who is a wheelchair person. The traditional apps didn’t provide him the opportunity to display his full personhood, instead pigeon-holing him as wheelchair bound. Being able to engage via video allowed potential partners to get a much better sense of him as a whole person.

Another aspect of Filteroff is that people can create their own communities with the app. These can also be geographic or event-based. Existing groups can use the app to create their own virtual events, to increase membership and/or exposure; in some cases, they can even be used as fundraisers, by charging an admission fee to the event.

Filteroff’s own events are free, and the app is available on all major platforms. Creating individual communities is also free.

The app was launched in February 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning to unfold, which influenced the initial focus on geographic proximity – much as we might try to forget it, no one was traveling across the country to meet a new person at that time. In its brief history, it has had quite a few matchmaking successes, including one marriage that was written up in the New York Times.

This is the ultimate measure of success for Schleien, who said his goal is “to be the best dating app for people to meet.”

Of course, each successful new romance means two fewer Filteroff users, but that’s fine with Schleien. “We actually want people to churn,” he proclaimed. “People will ask the couple, ‘how did you meet?’, and they’ll say ‘Filteroff!’”



Categories: Neighborhood Biz