Meg Stivison

Dateini, one of the startups displayed at TechCrunch Disrupt, promises to help users "plan dates like Houdini". Users select their location, cuisine type, budget, and theme, and Dateini plans a date using those parameters. I love living in the future... or I will, once Dateini is finished.

Dateini is established in a couple major cities in the US, but fortunately for me, New York is one of them. (Because this is the greatest city in the world!) Current theme choices are Music, Romantic and Entertainment, but more are in the works. Like many TechCrunch displays, the current Dateini is much more an interactive proof-of-concept than a working product, more a demonstration of what Dateini could feature than a finished product.

I chose my city, favorite food, theme and budget, but disappointingly, Dateini sent me on a date to Central Park... which wasn't exactly the unknown date spot I was hoping to find. With everything Manhattan has to offer, all the dates I requested as "Romantic" sent me to Central Park. Central Park's a lovely place to go, but does it really require a date-planning app to think up bringing a date to the giant green square in the middle of Manhattan? Again, much more of a proof-of-concept than a final product.

Date activity locations, no matter what the chosen city or theme is, are very close to each other, and Dateini provides clear walking directions, which will be very helpful once Dateini is fully fleshed out. Since I couldn't pick the neighborhood, or even the borough, in the current beta state, it still wasn't all that practical. Once the location is a bit more dialed in, Dateini would enable users to set up a date in their sweetheart's neighborhood, or find someplace fun to go near their hotel in an unfamiliar city.

There's an Instant Redate button, which re-selects the date activities while keeping the basic choices. Don't like that particular sushi spot? Instant Redate will find you another. Sadly, it doesn't send a new blind date to replace this weirdo, or give me a magical do-over after accidentally punching a handsome date. Actually, it just keeps giving me trips to Central Park.

Still, I'll check back for a finished version, because Dateini would be great at helping users impress a new date, or for breaking out of the dinner-and-a-movie standard in a long term relationship.