Sometimes, Less Is More
The internet’s ability to connect people naturally extends into our romances, where most modern dating sites focus on algorithms, personality tests, and sheer numbers to give you the opportunity to meet your next romance.
Alex Furmansky, CEO and Founder of metro-area dating site Sparkology, believes that the algorithm-based trust in technology for love is flawed. “We don’t have our social nets, our community, to help us anymore. We get promises of soulmates through personality tests.”
The numbers game often results in bum profiles, strange characters, and a flood of messages. Instead, Alex and his dozen person crew offer an invite-only community of people confirmed as genuine, intelligent, motivated to succeed, have good long-term values, and have a strong family pedigree.
These values aren’t often easy to assess in a dance-heavy club or loud bar. “You work hard, you strive to succeed, and you deserve to meet people who share those values. I know I don’t like to yell while getting to know someone in a bar.”
Does It Work?
Some have called it elitist. A basic requirement is a top-ranked college degree, though several factors play into acceptance. Cleverly, when I asked about perceived elitism, Alex had this to say: “Define elitism. Usually it implies rich, and we never have and never will ask about salary. This is very important. All we believe is that you deserve better candidates.”
That genuine philosophy comes through clearly in Alex, who left a successful financial career in his bid to change the entire dating industry, which he has found to be extremely underhanded and outright dirty. Profiles get shared across sites without people’s knowledge and false profiles are allowed to fly.
Sparkology’s approach seems to be working, with thousands of NYC metro-area members and planned expansions to several other US cities.
Perhaps the most important aspect is how the site strives to make every communication valuable. Women pay a flat monthly rate — $15, or three Starbucks coffees — to maintain a profile and men purchase “Sparks” to message a woman of interest, approximately $3 per Spark. By charging for that first Spark — subsequent messages are free — internal research suggests men are “deliberate and genuine” when they message.
Personal Empowerment Through Dating
The personal touch extends to the Sparkology blog, maintained by contributors to offer tips on presenting yourself to the world, from your writing to your fashion sense. “It’s about empowering the modern gentleman. Chivalry is alive and well.”
The site also maintains hand-selected “concierges.” For a reasonable fee, Sparkology users can access experts who help design your profile, plan your incredible first (or fifth) date, and offer relationship advice.
Sparkology also partners with organizations like the American Heart Association — pun intended. The goal with partnership is not traditional singles meet and greets — what do you say to the person who didn’t respond to your message? — but to connect people around good causes and hope some new sparks fly.
I asked Alex why now was the time to launch. He notes that the stigma of online dating is gone, opening the door to dating sites that help guide every “touch-point” in the dating game to ensure quality connections. Now that online dating is out in the open, sites must be more innovative and deliver results.
Plus, people are ready. More than 30% of Sparkology’s users say that they are first-time online daters.
He has no concern about the site’s success, affirming that successful couples are “walking billboards,” and noting that it’s a blessing when he meets people who use the site, including one friend-of-a-friend who ended up telling Sparkology’s graphic designer about “this new dating site I found,” only to be thrilled and surprised to know who she was talking to.
The Internet is leaving the wild west infancy where quality was questionable and entering the stage where honesty and transparency in business and personal sites is a premium people are happy to pay for.
Given Sparkology’s early success, with only six months under its belt, I expect to see this level of quality dating gain serious traction for those young professionals looking for genuine love…without the loud bars.