“We were spending a lot of time doing it and finding pretty inaccurate results,” Tessler said.
(Her current boyfriend is her 115th OKCupid date.) Tessler wanted to switch careers, from sex education to old-fashioned matchmaking.
She emailed 15 women and 15 men and asked if they would be open to dating in a group. “They all responded yes.” A woman in one of the first test groups introduced Kay to Tessler.
The two women and a third female co-founder (who left last November) introduced Dating Ring in 2013, arranging group dates in New York City.
The company was part of the Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator’s January 2014 class, and by then it had a few thousand users and was growing about 10 per cent a week, charging a person per date.
Sales had started to flatten, however, and scheduling dates was a nightmare, Kay said.
“We had become a group-scheduling company, not a group-dating service.” Their ability to focus on compatibility was being compromised by their need to find enough people to fill dates.
One of Y Combinator’s partners suggested they get feedback from users about switching to a one-on-one dating model.
The women posted a private Facebook poll to a few hundred people and got about 50 responses.
“All of them either preferred one-on-one dates or didn’t have an opinion,” Kay said.
Lauren Kay and Emma Tessler are not stereotypical startup founders.
They’re women, for one, and neither has a technology background.
Tessler is a college dropout who taught sex education in Newark, N.