Looking for love this Valentine’s Day? A new online dating service called SparkStarter launched this week, promising to help singles find romance — with a little help from their friends.
Instead of traditional online dating on services like Tinder, OKCupid, and eHarmony, which rely on singles viewing profiles of other singles and making their own judgement on who might be a good romantic partner, SparkStarter uses the ancient art of matchmaking to set people up.
SparkStarter encourages both single and non-single people to use its dating service, though for very different reasons. Everyone who signs up for SparkStarter must sign in using Facebook, and once you sign up the app pulls relevant information on your friends and friends of friends to generate possible matches.
If you’re a single person, you go through the same motions as apps like Tinder, looking at profiles of people the app thinks might be a good fit, and tapping yes or no to indicate whether you are or aren’t interested in that person.
If you aren’t single however, the service gets much more interesting. Attached people get to play Cupid on SparkStarter, selecting the single friends they want to set up, and connecting them with the friends they’re connected to on Facebook that might be a good match.
For example, say your friend Edgar has been single for way too long, and you think it’s high time Edgar went on a date. When you tap on the matchmaker function within the SparkStarter app, you can search for Edgar in the search bar, tap on his profile to see who the app thinks he’s compatible with, and you can either vote down or vote up that pairing by tapping on the appropriate button under the match profile. Maybe you think Edgar would be an awful partner for your co-worker Jenny (vote down), but is a perfect match for your high-school friend Kim (vote up).
Once you vote up a match, the connection will show up in each person’s queue to judge for themselves. If they both are interested, they can connect and the match will show up in their “My Matches” list where they can strike up a text-based conversation similar to Tinder. For them to actually connect, they’ll need to download the SparkStarter app for themselves, and a menu gives you the option to invite them to the service if they aren’t already SparkStarter member.
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