I’m always intrigued by new technologies that provide ways for singles to meet. It seems there are more new dating sites and mobile applications than ever, but how many are really effective in getting people to connect?
Recently, I interviewed Jake Lumetta, one of the founders of WinkVid.com, an online speed dating service. With all of the popularity surrounding Chatroulette, I wondered how singles would react to a speed dating service that operated the same way. With WinkVid, members can participate via web cams and meet up to 10 people in an hour from the comfort of their own homes. Here’s what he had to say.
How does WinkVid.com work? Is it like Chatroulette?
It’s like speed dating, but it’s all through online video chats. You sign up in advance for a scheduled time, or “event”. Right now, we have events every other Sunday, and you get 10 dates per event. We choose which group participants are part of based on age and location.
Take me through the process. Is it like online dating where you create a profile?
We don’t have any sort of traditional profile set-up. Instead, it’s a very simple, fun, no-effort process. You sign up, then at the specified time, you log in to the site and go to the “date lobby” to hang out before it starts. At start time, you’re automatically directed to the first person. You date for 4 minutes, then a screen pops up to see if you want to see them again. If both of you do, then it’s a match. Only two “yes” votes show up as matches. After the event, you can log in to site and chat with your match through the site. You can also exchange contact info yourself.
Chatroulette has become very popular. Do you think this format will work for online dating?
Co-founder Jordan Fulghum had friends who worked at Justin.tv, where they let people have their own live video channel. Most people used it to flirt and date! Based on this information, Fulgham decided to put a prototype together to test out WinkVid.com, and got positive feedback. We weren’t even aware of Chatroulette when all of this started.
Do you have any safeguards against inappropriate chatting?
That’s been a huge focus. We’re a pay service ($19 per event, $14 for your first time), so this weeds a lot of these people out. Also, members aren’t completely anonymous since they go through the registration process. We don’t watch dates for privacy reasons. But we do flag a person and block him if he does anything inappropriate.
When do you launch? Can L.A. daters try you out?
We first launched in Chicago a month ago. For now, we are looking to get local traction first. Then we will consider a nationwide launch.
Rest assured L.A. residents, you can still try this out. Another site that offers online speed dating is SpeedDate.com.
For more info: Kelly is a writer and former speed dating host. Got a dating question or story to share? Visit www.kellyseal.com or follow her @kellyseal.