Mari Hall – Missoula Current
Taylor Margot was a busy corporate lawyer in the San Francisco Bay area using apps to find love when he decided that today’s dating scene needed a change.
Over and over again, he was sucked into the usual “snapshot loop,” sending conversations with matches to friends to get advice on what to say or do next.
Now, Margot thinks he has a solution to help people meet matches while avoiding the vacuum of today’s online dating apps.
“The question is, are people really doing this, sending these screenshots, and is this how the dating world looks today?” he said. “To which our answer is, yes, absolutely, as mind-boggling as that is.”
Margot’s solution is Charmed, an app that integrates with existing dating apps, including Tinder, and allows users to easily get advice or suggestions from friends by sharing conversations with them.
The Missoula-based company was one of seven start-ups that will move to the next step in developing their product or service through Early Stage Montana, a nonprofit looking for entrepreneurs who need help planning and growing their business.
Now, all seven will move on to a five-day hyper-accelerator training program that will fine-tune marketing, hiring and the financial strategy for each business. They’ll also compete for a $50,000 investment by Frontier Angels during Early Stage’s annual Statewide Showcase in November.
During the competition, the start-ups are judged on their business idea and the likelihood of creating jobs in Montana. The program hopes to attract attention to the state for tech development.
“Attracting attention means that investors, partners, potential employees from all over the United States and potentially the world are starting to notice these companies and in the process, notice Missoula,” said Pat LaPointe, managing director of Frontier Angels and acting chairman of Early Stage Montana.
Margot hopes his app will not only get him the $50,000 Frontier Angels investment, but attract outside lookers as well.
Dating apps allow users to find matches and then text one another, getting help with what to say. How that advice progresses to an in-person date is important.
“The second step, texting, works as a massive gatekeeper,” Margot said. “So the number of people who match versus the number of people who actually meet in person is radically different.”
About 70 percent of Tinder users have not been on a date through the app, Margot said. He hopes that Charmed can help get people to go out on real dates. Forty percent of new relationships begin online, so he knows the potential to move from app to dating is there.
“Finding a partner is a universal human desire. We all want this,” he said. “It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when we talk about apps, dynamics, matching, and texting. But really, the point is to get people on dates.”
Currently, apps offer live dating advice and opportunities for users to pay to have their profile checked by professionals. Charmed is a free app.
In the future, Margot plans to implement a function that keeps users’ identities anonymous when conversations and profiles are shared with friends and offer help from experts who take a look at user chat threads through a small fee.
An advice subscription model may also be available, along with artificial intelligence platforms that offer responses to matches categorized by mood, from romantic to sarcastic.
A few hundred users have downloaded the app so far, and Margot is looking forward to seeing how it can become a part of today’s dating platforms.
“We have really high hopes,” Margot said. “We want to become a part of the fabric of dating in the modern age. We want to become a part of that process and get rid of the stigma that exists with online dating.”