December 20, 2014

‘Tinder’ Dating App Evolves for Business with New Matchmaker Features

‘Tinder’ Dating AppTinder is a dating app designed for smartphone users who hate hookup apps, has a willful longing to expand away from its reputation as a hookup tool. This April, cofounders Justin Mateen and Sean Rad voiced their intention to expand the app into business networking using the built-in matchmaking technology. This week, the startup introduced Matchmaker, another feature that the company hopes will cleverly broaden people’s perspectives about the app.

Via the regular Tinder app, Matchmaker lets members introduce their Facebook friends to others in their network. Simply choose two friends, write a message then press send. But, if this doesn’t sound like an improvement worthy of their time, reflect on the status quo.

Consider that email introductions usually work okay for business, but if done correctly you first have to obtain permission before you disclose you colleague’s personal or business email address. The company asserts that Matchmaker keeps that sensitive contact info private. Then, consider a romantic introduction, email just doesn’t make sense. Giving away a friend’s phone number hardly ever feels right, and looping everybody with a group text doesn’t work well either. Of course, you can always commit to the old-fashioned way of getting everyone together for an in-person meet-up, granted it worked fine for your grandparents, but it’s so analog. We’re in the digital age people.

Introductions continue to be a difficult process today, said 27 year-old Rad, Tinder’s CEO. They’re slow and socially awkward, but this is socially acceptable environment to make an introduction easily.

Although Rad admits he doesn’t know whether or not the new feature will catch on, the startup is allowing 100 users to test Matchmaker for one month. Rad said he only expected around 10 percent of the testers to even make introductions, with the remaining 90 percent would benefit from the connection. Instead, almost all users have already made several introductions.

It feels great to introduce a girl and a guy, and they hookup. They do not know yet whether people will widely use Matchmaker, said Rad. Introductions are not limited only to Tinder members. Any person can connect their Facebook friends using Matchmaker. People who don’t already have Tinder will receive a private message on Facebook that prompts the user to download the application and start chatting with the match. Clearly, there are several growth benefits with this method as well.

Not that growth has ever been an issue for the organization, historically speaking. despite the fact that the company hasn’t released its number of users, Rad says more than 51 million matches have already been made using the service ever since its September release, and users have rated more than 4.5 billion profiles. Those figures are up from six weeks ago at 35 million matches and 3.5 billion rated profiles.

Rad trusts that the new feature will expand beyond romantic intros and develop into a useful means for building any type of connection. CMO and cofounder, Mateen, introduced Rad to a man with a great deal for a watch, he said, while Matchmaker has also been particularly helpful with assimilating new employees into the business.

Still, Tinder remains closely linked with dating and hookups. Many people even mistake the app for Grindr, an app known for facilitating immediate, discrete hookups. Just how will Tinder transition from a dating tool into a networking tool for business, or even a broad networking tool, without rebranding?

This is a very tricky transition, Rad said. He’s not worried that much about branding since they haven’t compartmentalized themselves with the name or messaging. What they’ve developed is a reputation that it works. People already know that they deliver a process that works for meeting someone, he said. It’s a natural extension for the company since they’ve been succeeding at this for relationships and now they’re going to do the same for business.

And what about the Tinder homepage with two attractive, half-clothed twenty-something’s, but it appears the startup is already a step ahead. Tinder has already changed the splash page to tone down the sensuality.

 

    A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of "exit". The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth. Paul Graham, Y-Combinator