In 1976, we were both 16 years old and excited to start our first real job at Friendly’s Ice Cream. Bonded by snazzy gray uniforms and hairnets, we became fast friends. Even in high school we had a knack for creativity that often involved inventing crazy scenarios and pretending to be other people. This knack would prove useful in the future. Our friendship carried us through college, marriages, children and even divorce. We did not always communicate when life got in the way, but, as with any friendship, with a solid foundation we were able to reconnect a few years ago without missing a beat.
When two old friends come together, conversations naturally turn to life events. We were divorced, middle-aged and thoroughly frustrated with the prospect of finding love on an online dating site. At first, Pat said she did not want to try online dating. Eventually, she thought at the very least, she should try it out just to see what the experience would look like. Forty-five minutes later, after many questions, an uploaded picture selected to show off her best features, and numerous profile drafts, she hit “submit” and waited for what she was sure would be a gaggle of handsome, age-appropriate men to choose from.
Instead, she received a message: “Sorry, we were unable to match you. We are sure you are perfectly lovely, but sometimes this happens.” Daunted, and sure that there was some mistake, she reentered the site a second time with a different sign-on and got to the page where she thought it said, “How many years were you married,” and to which she replied “30.” After re-reading she realized it asked, “How many times were you married?” Realizing her mistake and all that it might have implied she quickly changed the response to “1,” finished the profile and hit “submit” again.
The reply was the same! How could that be? Was there not even one guy out there that she was good enough to date?
She discovered a button that she could click that stated that this particular site would not match people whose status was separated, not divorced. Well, why wasn’t that the first thing they tell you? The site could, at least, give users a warning that, when “separated” is selected, to stop and return only after the ink on the final decree is dry.
The two of us commiserated about the profiles; too long to read, too long to write. We worried over the pictures — the high school photos, or the ones of just their cat or dog, or those that were non-existent. “Long walks on the beach” and “romantic dinners” described as perfect dates. We wanted to know where were the sweats and popcorn movie nights? When we finally got brave and agreed to meet someone for coffee, what we saw online was not always what we got in person. We’re both busy people, and we just wanted to be able to cut to the chase where dating was concerned.
And thus the kernel of an idea was formed.
Fast-forward to fall 2014 — the kernel is now a full-blown concept for an app that will simplify the dating process. The two of us divided up the dating sites and, together, spent countless hours navigating them, trying and dismissing certain features while looking objectively at what we would like to see in a successful dating site.
The “Cut to the Chase” premise revolves around eliminating the more onerous aspects of online dating, like lengthy profiles and outdated photos, and replacing them with icons, real-time photos and many other features borrowed from social media, designed to promote actual interaction with the prospective dates so that you need never leave your couch until you are sure. We contacted a locally formed app development company called Designli, founded by Joshua Tucker and Keith Shields, both of Syracuse, and discussed the premise with them.
Armed with wireframes and a boatload of enthusiasm, wit and ideas, we pitched our concept to Seth Mulligan of the CNY Tech Garden and were invited to be part of the Tech Garden Affiliates. This affiliation has led naturally to TangoSquared (tangosquared.com) who have become our marketing and technology partner and developed our patent pending safe and secure video chat to the application.
We laughingly say to absolutely anyone who will listen that our financial goals are to: “Make three billion, with a ‘b,’ dollars — one for Pat, one for Michele and one for charity because we are not greedy!” While this goal is a lofty one, the sentiment is sincere. We want to partner with a local organization and share some of the money we make with this Syracuse-based charity. The challenge of developing an app in our 50s and seeing it come to fruition is already more than we could have hoped for, so giving back to something worthwhile that does so much for the community is really an honor and privilege.
What’s next for two longtime friends? For two women who were not sure what a tweet was or exactly what to do with it, we are learning about the world of online dating, social media and technology with the rest of our team. It’s said that people invest as much in the team with a startup, and this team is money in the bank. Life is too short not to try and go for what you want. So we plan to cut to the chase.