Erica Younkin wants to bring matchmaking back into style.
The 42-year-old Denver marketing consultant, along with business partner Bill Catlin, has created Match Me Cards, business-sized cards that individuals can fill out with details usually found on an online dating profile.
The idea is that customers then give those cards to their friends and family members, who can give them to singles who seem like a good fit.
“Online dating has a purpose for different seasons of people’s lives, but for me, it had run its course,” Younkin said. “I was frustrated because I know my community knows a lot of people but weren’t up for the task of being my matchmaker. Our culture doesn’t embrace it as much as we once did.”
Younkin started a Kickstarter campaign on May 26 to build brand awareness and provide a preorder option as she launched the product. It wrapped up over the weekend, having raised $4,740, about $200 over its goal.
“I’ve had the desire to build a product for a long time, and since this is print on demand, we won’t be sitting on an inventory, so it seemed viable,” Younkin said. “I’ve wanted an online dating alternative like this personally, so there’s got to be a lot of other people out there who are looking for the same.”
Customers design their own Match Me Cards on the company’s website, adding a photo and details about their age, location, personality, values in relationships and contact information. They can spend $13 for a digital image card, or purchase a pack of 25, 50 or 100 cards for between $44 and $60, which includes the digital version as well.
“I’ve been in an online dating situation where a friend said if they knew I was going out with that person they would have suggested otherwise,” Younkin said. “Match Me Cards show the value in having a third person who knows us both personally and can set us up.”
Younkin originally planned to launch the fundraising campaign in March, but took a step back to reconfigure the model as a result of the pandemic. That’s when the idea for the digital image card was born, so customers could have the option to send their dating profile card over text or email.
“As a single person living in a pandemic, we’re alone more than most; we’re physically isolated,” Younkin said. “Finding a way to date now is more important than ever and a way to do it safely. You can still have a virtual date, and there are great ways to have safe, social distancing dates.”
Younkin’s day job is Brandcrafted Marketing, the marketing consulting firm she owns. She met Catlin, who owns York Street Labs, a web and mobile app development company, while working at a coworking space. He helped her design the company’s site and business card layout.
As of Friday, more than 40 preorders had been placed, according to Younkin, who uses the cards herself.
“I remember a time of dating that was offline, and it feels that way now with Match Me Cards, which are safer, more comfortable and feel less rushed, and I hope that’s the case for other people too,” Younkin said. “This relies on your network of people. It doesn’t require a network of people in the system.”
Match Me Cards isn’t the only locally-based dating startup. MeetMindful, an app that pairs people who share interests in yoga, meditation and other “mindful” hobbies, launched in 2015. Founder Amy Baglan has since raised more than $8 million from investors.