Dating apps are hot right now (Just a little bit of a pun intended). With 10 million users on Tinder every single day and a bunch of competitors, everyone seems to be doing their part to help single people meet The One™. Including one of the most exciting teams participating in our HACKcelerator, Blink, based out of Austin, Texas and the winner of our AH8 Austin Hackathon. I sat down with them to find out what they’re up to.
Meet The Team
— Blink Me (@HeyBlinkMe) August 11, 2015
Blink’s team is a classic mix of entrepreneurs, developers and designers, with 5 equal stake Co-Founders looking to make something different. Evan Gow comes from a business background, having previously worked on Wall Street and now at a growth equity fund. He talks to the strangers who need a little more Blink in their life, and asks the important questions.
Genevieve Norman has previously done risk analysis for Facebook and Apple, and says what needs to be said to get everything done. She analyzes the data.
Djessy Menard is is a full stack developer with a background in web, mobile, and telecoms software development. He’s currently working for IBM.
Jerome Martinez brings serious excitement to the coding lifestyle, specializing in front-end web and app development. He was most recently the front-end engineer for the Livestrong Foundation and in the past has worked at a plethora of startups.
And last but not least is Suchada “Sushi” Sutasirisap, a natural-born creative with a serious gift for creating usable experiences. After leaving Apple last year, she joined the IBM Mobile Innovation Lab, where she helps design the future of apps.
What is Blink?
The team at Blink posits that modern-day online dating has no romance. “When you meet someone in real life, you get a tingling sensation, and that’s lost in dating apps… we just want to make the experience... more meaningful than just swiping left or right,” said Jerome. “Blink also removes the stress of creating a profile and spending your time evaluating people’s profiles. ”
“So the first time you start up Blink, you’ll create an account, see a video of yourself, put in your settings, and immediately start video chatting with people near you. For us, other dating apps aren’t nearly active enough, it’s something you use when you are bored and there is no instant gratification.”
Dating apps today have little to do with actually dating, but not Blink. “Blink is a live stream speed dating app meant to build more genuine connections and bring back the butterflies to dating. We want to make people proud of what they’re using! When you meet someone in real life, you get a tingling sensation, and that’s lost in a lot of dating apps now.”
”The way it works is you log on and see a video of yourself, put in your preferences, and start a video chat immediately with someone in your city that matches your preferences.”
Why use Blink?
When Tinder first came out, Sean Rad said that it was a game. Not much has changed. Blink is for those pursuing something more serious.
And it’s no coincidence that Blink is based in Austin, the quickest-growing city in America. With so many people coming and trying to establish new connections, everyone is looking for a relationship. So Blink is sticking to what they know for their beta and limiting it to the Austin area.
The Moment They Knew They Were On To Something
After winning AH8 Austin, Blink knew they were on to something, but needed a way to test and validate their idea without building a true MVP. So Gen and Evan walked around downtown Austin to see if random strangers around the area were interested in FaceTiming with Gen's random friends, ditching a matching algorithm for good ole fashioned intuition of who her friends would want to talk to."One of the funny stories from that experience was when we approached a group of guys to FaceTime with Gen's friend who was in front of a Starbucks. The guys saw a Starbucks across the street with a girl on her phone, so they started jumping up and down to try and get her attention, and it actually ended up being Gen’s friend, who we didn’t realize was so close by."
That's... actually really hilarious and clever.
Hackathon And Beyond
The team at Blink mostly went to UT Austin together, and initially met through various hackathons; so they all knew they worked well together. So the question was, what were they trying to build?
“Everyone collaborated on the idea, but Sushi was the one who originally came up with the dating angle. We tried to tie in the sponsors and let the technology they offered guide us... we were originally going to do more business connections- 'business link’ aka ‘blink.’ Respoke does live video and HP had facial recognition software—so then we thought, why not live stream video between people? And then we came back around to the dating app, and everything clicked into place...”
After pitching at TechCrunch in front of the CEO of Bumble (a fellow dating app startup) in June, everything really clicked into place. I hope you'll join me in following the journey of one of the MOST LIVE teams in AngelHack's #HACKcelerator15!