If you're a single person looking for a date, you may find dating sites like Match.com or EHarmony overwhelming. But maybe it would make more sense to find an activity that you and another person are interested in. And what if that activity was a good deal as well?
ChirpMe was co-founded by 23-year-old Joshua Viner, who previously co-founded Pagefad, now called OnlineAthletes, an online sports gaming company, as a sophomore in college in Connecticut. The site grew to 10 million in users. Three months ago Viner moved to Silicon Valley to work on ChirpMe. He's building the company with three friends, crammed together in a studio apartment in Palo Alto, Calif.
ChirpMe sources deals from 200 daily deals sites, from a golf driving range session to sky diving. It's starting in New York, San Francisco and Miami. People can click an activity to indicate they're "intrigued." Then when someone is searching activities, he or she can see who is interested and click to invite that person to go on a date. People can also look at profiles and see what they have in common with them.
"ChirpMe is a site about meeting people around hobbies and activities you enjoy doing," Viner says. "Essentially we're turning Groupons into dates."
ChirpMe gets affiliate fees when people buy the deals. ChirpMe also is seeding free activities that are not tied to a deal, such as, "Lets go to the Stanford fields and kick the ball around!" or a free concert at the San Jose Jazz Festival.
The company also is matching people's interests with its list of activities, so that it can recommend new activities every day.
The idea is that it is easier for people to browse and click on activities they're interested in, after which ChirpMe will automatically create a profile for them, rather than having to fill out a long profile, as is necessary for other online dating sites. Viner has himself gone on a few dates using the service and says the site works.
"With Match.com you message somebody but you don’t know what to message them about," Viner says. "Our site is based on conversations about cool activities. I already know she likes to do that activity so I can say, 'Hey that's fun let's do it.'"
Is there a stigma with just going on dates that are deals--that is, cheap? Viner says his users don't have a problem with that because it's not about the deals per se. It's about the connecting with people.
An interesting aspect of this is ChirpMe's use of daily deals from companies like Groupon and Amazon.com-funded LivingSocial--and more recently Facebook and Google. ChirpMe, by turning the deals into dating ideas, provides another use for these deals and another form of distribution for them. It'll be interesting to see if other start-ups build services on top of these daily deals.