Kenneth Shaw couldn’t get a girlfriend. He had everything else in place — a good job at One King’s Lane, great friends, a degree from Stanford — but he just couldn’t seem to land himself a lady. Friends pushed him to try online dating, to the point where a friend actually bought him a year’s subscription to Match.
He told her to donate it to charity.
Despite being a tech-nerd, Kenneth was a member of the elusive tribe of online dating holdouts.
So when advice columnist E. Jean Carroll — the author of Elle Magazine’s , which has been running since 1993 — reached out to him to help her create an online dating site, Kenneth was skeptical. First of all, he’d never heard of this lady and, second, he’d heard way more horror studies than success from his friends who were online dating.
E. Jean’s vision, however, was of an online dating site that got people offline ASAP — no algorithms involved. Kenneth googled her name, realized she knew what she was talking about, and signed on to help her create .
While online dating sites rely on endless questions to match users, Tawkify has a team of trained professional matchmakers. Users answer ten questions when they sign up and then sit back and wait for the call from their personal matchmakers, who not only sets them up on dates but also set up the dates themselves, fulfilling their role as “your dating concierge.”
And Tawkify clients shouldn’t expect anything as boring as meeting up for drinks. Maggie Lange at New York Magazine’s The Cut wrote an amazing piece last September about E. Jean setting her up on a first date — at Tiffany’s. Registering for her .
“We guarantee you’re going to want to go on the dates we set up,” Kenneth told me, and if their 20 E. Jean-trained matchmakers come up with dates like Maggie’s, I’m inclined to believe him.
The price for this kind of personalized service is not cheap, however. While online dating sites usually charge less than $100 per month, traditional matchmakers can cost per year. Tawkify has found a sweet spot right in the middle, coming in at two personally-matched dates for $600 a month.
I asked Kenneth if it was realistic to expect people to pay that much, especially in cities like New York and San Francisco, where everything is so expensive already. He told me that they’d experimented with a few different price points and found that at $149 or less, people were constantly bailing on their dates. If something came up that conflicted, they just ate the cost of the fee. He also emphasized that there’s a real person behind every Tawkify match who not only works hard to connect couples initially but also does follow-up to find out what worked and what didn’t, in order to make the next match even better. The price reflects all of that work.
Finally, Kenneth told me that, unlike traditional sites that view messages back and forth or swipes as “success,” Tawkify’s metric for success is whether or not their couples go on a second date — and 81% of their users who buy a three month subscription do just that.
Tawkify launched in 2012 and today boasts “tens of thousands” of users, although Kenneth said he couldn’t share the exact number. While they were undoubtedly ahead of their time three years ago, the site fits neatly into the current trend of dating sites abandoning complicated algorithms and aiming to get users offline and in person as quickly as possible. The point, after all, should be going on an actual date and potentially meeting someone you could hang out with — not just sending messages back and forth online.
And as for that tech-nerd who was unlucky in love? E. Jean’s methods worked. Kenneth Shaw is no longer single — and he got there without the help of even one algorithm.
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