There’s a new app that’s bringing matchmaking into the 21st century. Sing “Please Spritzr, please Spritzr, make me a match,” and just maybe, you’ll be on your way to a date with someone who’s been pre-approved by your friends.
As exciting as trying to establish a relationship with a complete stranger may be for some of the braver denizens of the online dating world, for many others, endless swiping and messaging on apps like Tinder, OKCupid, or even Hinge can be as frightening as it is exhausting. After all, with most of these apps, algorithms and geotags, rather than human beings decide who you’ll meet.
With Spritzr, however, all that changes. As the company’s website explains, “Couples have fun playing matchmaker and helping their single friends meet that special someone. Singles meet quality dates referred by their friends.” Oy vey indeed.
Spritzr ventures into exciting new territory by explicitly relying on the advice of people you know and trust to send users on their dates. Whereas other apps reveal common connections and mutual friends, there’s still a level of unfamiliarity — after all, you didn’t happen across this person’s profile because your friends wanted you to. As Manshu Agarwal, Spritzr’s founder, told me via email, “Standard online dating is like going to a random bar — the chances of you meeting someone great are pretty small. Spritzr is like going to a friend’s party — it’s a far more comfortable and effective way to meet like-minded people.”
Rather than relying on algorithms, Agarwal said, “Every match you receive [on Spritzr] is suggested by a human being — either a mutual friend or a matchmaker within the Spritzr community. That increases the quality of the matches you receive.” After all, “Algorithms can’t pick up a whole host of information that a human eye can.”
Agarwal also identifies a key problem in the “behavioral flippancy” that often manifests itself in dating apps like Tinder or other swipe-based services. Said the founder, “Guys know that the chances of finding a match are small … so they swipe right continuously. This devalues what a match means, as it’s not clear if the couple truly like each other. Many matches don’t lead to a chat. So the odds of going on an actual date with a person you like are tiny.” Calling standard online dating “colossally ineffective,” Agarwal points out that fewer than 25 percent of online daters wind up in a relationship. “You wouldn’t tolerate such results from any other product,” he says, “So why tolerate it from your dating app?”
By abandoning the impersonal touch of the computer for the judgment of actual human beings, Agarwal says that, “A friend or a community matchmaker has put some thought into each suggestion they send your way, making you think before you swipe. And when a mutual like occurs, you know that the other person really means it, so you’re more likely to get chatting and meet up.”
Agarwal founded the new dating app after experiencing his fair share of online romance (or lack thereof). “I started Spritzr because as a single guy I found online dating to be exhausting. It took up a lot of time browsing, swiping, messaging, and generally didn’t lead to much,” he said. “At the same time, I had this friend, Caroline, who was married and would set me up with friends of hers. I thought if I could find a way to make matchmaking easy and low pressure, many more people would act as matchmakers, and singles would have a quick way to find quality dates.”
Thus, Spritzr was born. A key of Agarwal’s was to eliminate some of the “creep” factor that seems to be an integral part of much online dating (my own experiences have demonstrated this). As the CEO pointed out to me, “42 percent of women report being harassed while using a dating app or website.” But having a mutual friend recommend a potential love interest “removes that anxiety and gets the couple off to a positive start.” And best of all, there’s some guarantee that you’re meeting a real person, and not being catfished.
Even if you’re in a happy, committed relationship yourself, Agarwal is confident that you can use Spritzr as a matchmaker. No, this isn’t Ashley Madison 2.0, but as a 2014 Duke study noted, playing matchmaker has actually been shown to make people happier. As a result, Spritzr is equally dependent on its singles community and its matchmaker community for creating a more realistic dating environment, even if it is online.
At the end of the day, Agarwal says, “Whether it’s dating apps or some other online tool, digital dating is definitely here to stay. The trick is going to be how we can make it authentic, enjoyable, and effective at the same time.” Spritzr may just be the start of a solution.