Why Vana’s dating app might actually work

In the final episode of The Apprentice*, we learned that Vana Koutsomitis wanted to launch a dating app where users have to play a series of games before getting to meet their match.


Vana explained that the games are based on scientific principles aimed at making better matches. I have no idea what those principles are, or even whether it is possible to encapsulate what makes two persons a good (romantic) match for each other. Based on the experiences of Dating Ring, the dating company featured in the Start Up podcast series, it is quite a complex task, where technology often looses to very basic human traits, such as the impact of first impressions. For example, one of the episodes discussed how users would sometimes pull out of dates organised by Dating Ring, based on the (ethnically sounding) name of the person Dating Rating had matched them with.


But if Vana and her business partner who develops the games and the matching algorithm (the mysteriously named Dr. Desire) crack that bit (and, yes, I appreciate that is a big ‘if’), then, I think that the idea of getting users to do a bit of work before they can meet their matches is a good one. In fact, all else equal, I think that it can improve the chances of a successful match.




Because of the Ikea effect.


The Ikea effect is a term coined by Dan Ariely and colleagues, and refers to the observation that investing time and effort to achieve something, makes us value that action or outcome more than otherwise. Dan Ariely’s research focused on furniture, but other examples include queuing for hours to buy a new product (think Apple’s product launches) or be admitted to a restaurant. Or going through a series of difficult tests to join a fraternity.


I think that the same principle could be observed in Vana’s app. I.e., that by investing time and effort in getting to meet their match, users would be cognitively predisposed to judge the outcome of their effort more favourably.


The crucial aspect of this mechanism is that the person has to want to go through the experience. Which, again, I think is the case in Vana’s app, where the value proposition is, exactly, that you need to ‘play’ in order to be able to ‘date’.


Now, tell me: Would you give Vana’s app a go?



* For my non-UK readers, I am referring to the UK version of the reality show, The Apprentice, where candidates vie for an investment from Lord Sugar. In the 11th series one of the two finalists was Vana Koutsomitis, whose business idea was a dating app where users play a series of games in order to find out who their match / date is.

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