These recent college graduates want you to give matchmaking a whirl.
Ted Middleton and Anna Lummus were students at Wake Forest University when they started setting up their single friends who ran on different social circles on campus. What initially started a blind date service via Google Sheets and Google Forms is now a scaling startup and full-blown app, Whirl.
“It started as a way to create new connections on campus and introduce people who wouldn’t otherwise know each other,” Middleton told Hypepotamus. “We’ve seen there are a lot of people out there that actually love to play matchmaker for their friends. It’s a very specific personality type. But if you know anyone that set up any marriages, they probably haven’t let you hear the end of it.”
Those looking for their next first date download the app and select a group of their friends to work as their official matchmakers. Those matchmakers curate potential dates and once the dater approves, they are added to a chat room with no photos or no names.
It might be an old-school approach to meeting people, but Middleton believes it is the best way to move beyond the constant swiping and small talk found on more established dating apps.
The app scales by getting people, regardless of their relationship status, onto the platform. It allows “people both in and out of relationships to engage with the fun of the dating scene,” added Middleton.
“You trust your friend with a movie recommendation. So why wouldn’t you trust your friend with dating advice and dating recommendations?” added Middleton. “There’s no swiping, no liking, but we’ve seen some really unbelievable matches have come out of this kind of new twist on dating.”
Given that the startup was born on a college campus, Whirl will be going hard after universities like Duke, UNC and Wake Forest as it begins to scale in 2023. The team will also be piloting the program in Atlanta and Charlotte to expand its customer base in larger city ecosystems.
Middleton said down the road he sees the ability to monetize the app through connecting successful “matchmakers” to other daters.
Matchmaking In Tech
After graduating this May, Middleton and Lummus dove in fully to bring a tech-focused experience to the matchmaking world.
Middleton said the platform changed drastically over the course of the Techstars Atlanta program this summer. Initially called Thea after the Greek god of vision, the startup rebranded to Whirl over the last two months to reflect the acronym “We Hangout In Real Life.”
The team raised a friends and family round of funding early on to get the app off the ground before heading into Techstars Atlanta. The team plans on relocating to Charlotte early next year to keep growing Whirl, according to Middleton.
Of course, the sign of a successful new dating app on the market is whether or not it creates meaningful connections in real life. The early versions of the app and during its alpha testing already created a group of successful second dates, Middleton told Hypepotamus.