These 14 Startup Ideas Made The Cut For WashU Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce $50K Top Prize

Team Name: Setup

University: Stanford University, Graduate School of Business

BIG IndeaBounce 2023 finalist

Concept: Setup brings back friends setting up friends

Challenge: There’s a gap in the market. Users are tired of dating apps not helping them build the type of quality connections that they’re looking to build. The dating apps of today are polarized with the majority imitating the random sheer quantity of potential people you can meet at the bar and a few mirroring more detailed matchmaking. There’s an unexplored middle of what has been a leading way for people to make connections through all of humankind – meeting through friends. Setup aims to fill this gap and focus on quality of connections over quantity.

Solution: Setup leans into a new kind of dating – one centered around trust, quality, and fun. Research shows that matches made through friends are 3x more successful than meeting someone out or at a bar – the experience that current market leaders like Bumble and Tinder work to replicate. Our model will not only create a strong business opportunity – it will also create better chances for real love. After conducting several interviews with both matchers (”cupids”) and matchees (”lovers”), we built concentrated knowledge around both what motivates people to match and what makes someone open to being set up. We’ve found that people love to wingperson out of the goodness of their hearts (altruism) but also for the pride they feel when a match goes well (bragging rights). Our insights have allowed us to create a model that engages, for the first time, not only single people but also any friends who are interested in setting others up . Setup is not just another freemium dating app. Our business model consists of a blend of “Pay to Reveal” where in singles have the option to pay to reveal which friend set them up (otherwise the matcher is anonymous) and a traditional freemium model where singles and matchers pay a recurring monthly fee for additional features. Through Setup, we want to help more people fall in love.

The Market: According to a survey conducted by Stanford University, over the past 30 years, online dating has grown from making up just 2% of how heterosexual couples in the U.S. meet to over 40%. Online dating is now the leading way that people connect. However, people looking for love are unsatisfied with existing dating apps. Users have sited frustration due to apps being impersonal/ superficial, time-consuming, dead-end conversations, catfishing/ fraud, too much choice, and more. As a proxy for the TAM, consider the number of people using dating apps worldwide as a proxy. According to a study conducted by Match Group, 323M people world-wide use dating apps. Assuming a 10% market penetration, we assume the SAM to be at least 32.3M. The vast majority of matchmaking is also done on mobile devices. There is also willingness to try new apps. In 2021, over 250M people downloaded a new dating app. Beyond market size, consumers are also willing to spend significantly when it comes to finding love. A survey conducted by App Annie indicated that consumers spent over 4.1 billion on dating apps in 2021 along.

Competition: While there are an increasing number of dating apps entering the market, existing dating apps only replicate two traditional forms of dating: (1) meeting at bar; or (2) professional matchmaking. None of these apps look to replicate what was (and still is) the most successful form of dating. Friends setting up friends. By leveraging the power of people who actually know you and your potential partners, the odds of finding love are significantly increased – by 3X! In the U.S. over 90% of the market is consumed by apps trying to replicate meeting in a bar – Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Grindr, etc. The remaining market (Match, OKCupid) is less than 10%, focuses more on traditional matchmaking. This provides a wide and unfilled chasm for the middle of the road option – meeting through friends. A gap that we are working to fill. A small number of competitors have tried to make dating social by bringing friends into the fold but none have done so in a way that actually unlocks the benefit of having a friend that knows (or knows of) both singles.

Value Creation: The global online dating app market size was valued at $7.5 billion in 2021 with the expectation of a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5% from 2022 to 2030. Of this, over $3 billion was made by match group. Studies have show that dating apps are one of the highest return market areas, especially within consumer. Dating app revenues have increased every year since 2015 and are expected to continue. Advertising and in-app purchases both present great opportunities for monetization, and have been proven viable in other apps.

The Team: Sowa Imoisili – Current Student – Stanford Graduate School of Business – MBA ‘23 Matt Molloy- Current Student – Stanford Graduate School of Business – MBA ‘23

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