Match Activity, a new online dating site is ready for your profile.
The 14-month-old Los Angeles online dating start-up is betting that it can carve itself a niche in the online dating market by incorporating some of the newer technologies and focusing on activity based match making. It uses tags, ajax and other such features to offer a better user experience compared to the old school dating sites.
Match Activity is the latest amongst many start-ups taking a bite at the online dating pie. Consumating.com was the first to lead the charge, and was acquired by C/Net. The Knot bought GreatBoyFriends for $600,000 a little while ago. In Canada, there is the most fabulous Verbdate.
Online dating is estimated to be a $1 billion a year business, and growing. Online dating sites have shed some of their stigma, and now are often featured in movies, even ones as terrible as Must Love Dog. According to Pew Internet, some 11% of Internet users have used online dating websites. As broadband spreads, we are only going to see an increase in usage of online applications such as online dating.
Match Activity is going up against some established players including industry leaders, Match.com and Yahoo. Craigslist is another fast growing (and free) online dating site. Of course there is MySpace, not exactly a dating site, but….
That doesn’t deter Yoni Avital, the founder of the company, who believes that actions speak activities speak louder than words. And since most activities are mostly time sensitive, people are more like to be proactive and not mull too long over emails. Sort of adding an auction-like urgency to the whole dating process? The man speaks from experience, it seems. “My best dates happened when we weren’t interviewing one another, but just having fun,” Avital says.
The site is free to use if you post activities publicly or respond to posted activities. However if you want to invite a specific person (or people who approved you already) you will need pay (“$7.99 a month. The company has a two-person staff working out of a LA garage. The development team is based in Israel. Match Activity, angel funded so far is looking for more capital, Avital says. They are currently in talks with some Silicon Valley angels.
Openings for Start-ups?
Over past decade online dating, travel and auctions have been steady money earners for Internet companies. In recent months, however the giants of these categories have hit a glass ceiling. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone because many of them have sat on their haunches. This is an opportunity for start-ups who can nibble away at niches. We noted that might be the case in the online travel industry. Perhaps, it is a perfect time for someone to step up and build a rival to eBay. (In South Korea, Gmarket has done exactly that. Rob Hof of Business Week has a story on that in the current issue, but no link available as yet.)
The flip side is, that these start-ups will have to figure out a low-cost way of building traffic, and figure out how to build a profitable franchise. Exits-via-acqusitions by big boys are an option, but its like betting on Portugal to win the World Cup.