LA-based restaurant and real estate entrepreneur Mitch Kahan (Santa Monica’s Brick + Mortar to West Hollywood’s Open Air Kitchen + Bar ) knows the value of a good event. Using his personal experiences in online dating as a barometer, Mitch and his brother Avi have created InviteUp is an event based, mobile dating app that fast forwards through small talk and quickly connects users for an in-person meeting at the places they want to go.
Mitch sits down with LATechWatch and to discuss InviteUp.
Tell us about the product or service.
InviteUp is a dating app designed to simplify the complex and often frustrating world of online dating, and to make dating fun. With InviteUp, users select the specific locations they want to go to, such as trendy restaurants, movies, bars, or any of Foursquare’s 65 million venues. They find other people interested in going to the same places and mutually confirm dates. Users can view others by Places or Faces and filter their results by personal characteristics such as education, age, height, etc.
By allowing users to choose the venue upfront, InviteUp eliminates the hours or days of messaging users endure on other dating sites before getting to an in person date. With InviteUp, people can meet up in person at their favorite places quickly and easily.
How is it different?
InviteUp remedies the three major flaws that plague other dating apps: 1) too much time spent on messaging; 2) difficulty planning a date; and 3) trouble gauging chemistry online.
On other dating apps, men typically spend countless hours messaging – essentially spamming – women to get responses. Women are constantly inundated with messages and waste time sorting through them to find someone they are truly interested in meeting. After two potential matches make contact, they continue messaging for days or weeks until they agree to meet in person, often with drop offs in communication along the way.
Additionally, other dating apps are not particularly effective at assessing compatibility. Although someone may seem fascinating, attractive and compatible from his or her online profile, the only way to know if you have an authentic connection with him or her is to meet in person.
While there are other event-based dating apps that link users based on mutual interest in locations, InviteUp goes a step further. Through our Foursquare integration, we enable users to choose exactly where they want to go and when, making it easy to plan dates at those locations. We make dating fun by bringing people together at the places they really want to go, and we’re completely free!
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Online dating is a $2 billion a year industry and census data shows that 47 percent of American adults are currently single. InviteUp is designed for adults of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in dating. Our core demographic will be socially active 21-35 year olds who tend to be early adopters of apps. While dating apps were not cool a few years ago, Millennials now embrace them as a savvy medium for meeting new people. We are initially launching in Southern California to build a solid user base before expanding to other cities.
What is the business model?
We are launching with a completely free model. We plan on monetizing through strategic partnerships with restaurants and venues. For example, we will obtain revenue through showing sponsored restaurant suggestions, offering discounts for local date locations, and affiliate fees with TicketGeek. We don’t plan on having any obtrusive ads, but rather a smooth integration that allows for an ideal consumer experience.
What inspired the business?
I tried several dating apps and was frustrated by the time and effort it took to plan dates. I wished there was a way I could cut out the lengthy messaging process and get to the in person date quickly and easily. I also noticed that my friends, both male and female, were particularly interested to going to certain locations for dates, such as a new sushi restaurant or the beach. I thought my dating life would improve if I could meet new, interesting people and give them not only a great experience with me, but also a great experience somewhere they wanted to go.
That inspired the InviteUp concept – a platform for defining the date details upfront.
According to your data, what are some popular first date spots in LA?
Among dating sites in general, the most common first date locations are coffee shops, more specifically, Starbucks. With InviteUp, we think users will post dates to fun venues that particularly resonate with them. For example, some will gravitate toward popular bars, trendy new pop ups, and restaurants they’ve been dying to try. Others will plan first dates at beaches or hikes. In a city like Los Angeles, users have limitless the options for planning their perfect first date.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
User growth is our main objective upon launch. We hope to achieve a dedicated user base and brand recognition by successfully conveying our value proposition to the Millennial audience. On par with user acquisition is achieving user satisfaction. Before we expand, we will ensure that the app provides users with a unique and successful approaching to dating. After launching in Los Angeles, we plan to expand rapidly into the remainder of California and then to New York and other major metropolitan areas of the United States.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?
If we successfully hit our milestones, we would love to attract the attention of the leading venture capital firms. There are a lot of great ones out there, but if I had to pick one I would pick Andreessen Horowitz, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm co-founded by Marc Andreessen. As one of the most iconic technology entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the country, Andreessen would be able to contribute invaluable experience and knowledge.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
Los Angeles is arguably the most diverse city in the country and offers the ideal playground for dating. I was born and raised here and continue to be amazed by the depth of restaurants, bars, music events and outdoor activities. While some criticize Angelenos for gravitating toward the next big thing, InviteUp relishes in the fact that singles in Los Angeles love to explore new places. Being “Made in LA” means we embrace the city’s cultural offerings and have created an app that helps people do the same.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
Early stage entrepreneurship starts in school. In addition to core subjects, LA schools should emphasize creative problem solving skills, teach students how to manage personal finances, and encourage students to be self starters.
What’s your favorite after work activity in Los Angeles?
I recently got into rock climbing. There’s a great climbing gym in West LA called Rockreation. I go a few times a week and have fun challenging friends at the gym, though I still have much room for improvement before I tackle challenging outdoor climbs. Now that I think about it, Rockreation could be a really fun first date spot.