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Love at first meme: find the one on this meme-based dating app

By Alma Fabiani

May 30, 2021

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You know how the saying goes ‘nobody’s perfect’? When it comes to my relationship, the same life lesson applies—there’s one specific thing my boyfriend seems to lack: taste in memes. Don’t get me wrong, he gets why memes are funny most of the time, he just always seems to be two weeks late when he dares send me one. In most cases, I’ll either leave him on ‘read’ or if I’m in a forgiving mood, I’ll double-tap the link to add a little red heart on its top right corner. Bless his sweet little heart.

Now, if you can relate to my anecdote, chances are you’re into your memes. You might even have that same ‘meme superiority’ ego that I discovered I have myself. The mere thought of dating someone with a C- meme knowledge probably gives you shivers, but sadly, there’s not much you can do about that when using popular dating apps like Tinder or Bumble—straight-up breaking the ice with ‘How good is your meme knowledge?’ might be too intense.

But what if I told you that things have changed? From now on, you’ll finally be able to judge people on whether they’re dating material by comparing your tastes in memes to see if you’re a match.

Love at first meme: find the one on this meme-based dating app

Introducing Schmooze, the new matchmaking app that combines machine learning and memes to connect people based on what it calls a “humour algorithm.” Founded by Vidya Madhavan, who previously worked as an analyst at McKinsey in India, the dating app aims to target (mostly) gen Z users.

Speaking to TechCrunch about how Schmooze came to be, Madhavan shared how, growing up in India, she thought she might be “in the business of running a factory, given the power and influence of outfits like Tata Group, the Indian multinational conglomerate.” She graduated at the top of her high school class, nabbing a mechanical engineering degree back in India and, more recently, landing at Stanford’s business school.

Only her dreams of creating a more traditional business had already turned into something more—I’ll just say it—fun several years ago, as she was debating whether or not to attend grad school in California. TechCrunch explains that Madhavan reached out to ten people on LinkedIn who she could see attended renowned US business schools and hoped might be helpful. Only one of them replied, but over the next couple of days, she said, “We exchanged, like, 200 emails, all of them fundamentally jokes.”

And guess what? They’re now married. According to Madhavan, both shared a similar sense of humour, which initially brought them together, and on this realisation, she began playing with the idea of Schmooze, initially as a way to “foster new friendships.” It didn’t take her long to notice the importance gen Zers place on both humour and dating apps. Dates and lols, what else do you need, right?

Madhavan refocused the idea as a dating app for gen Z users (who already communicate largely with memes), and ta-dah, Schmooze was born. Until it’s big enough to properly deal with content moderation, a beta version of the app was launched in late summer with 200 Stanford students, which has since led to “more than 10,000 downloads around the US, with people swiping right (or left) to more than 5,000 memes,” writes TechCrunch.

But how does the app work? According to Schmooze’s website, after signing up and adding a short bio to their profile, new users just need to start swiping through memes for the app’s algorithm to build a humour profile based on their swipes and the interests mentioned in their bio. Once that’s all done, users will start receiving matches that have a similar sense of humour. Chats also open up with memes to spark conversation.

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So far, Schmooze claims it has matched over 100,000 users. Of course, whether the algorithm truly works will take time to know. But the future of meme-based dating is looking bright—the dating app recently closed on $270,000 in seed funding from Ulu Ventures and others to improve its product. Meanwhile, it looks like the whole app’s concept was made for TikTok’s passionate (and meme-obsessed) audience.