Dating app Filteroff brings its community-based dating app to the Art Dubai festival this month, which covers art from over 100 galleries and 40 countries.
Apps such as Filteroff, Tinder, OKCupid, or the Islamic-oriented muzmatch, are a challenge to traditional matches in Arab society where families tend to arrange marriages.
Instead, these apps offer lonely hearts an array of potential partners, all just a swipe away.
New York-based Filteroff is new to the Gulf dating scene as a sponsor of Art Dubai, from March 11 to 13.
Filteroff says it differs from other dating apps because it is based around events, meaning that people looking for romance can find each other according to mutual interests, such as art, music, hobbies or even religion.
“You create your profile and then you can choose from many available virtual events, which could be arts-based, or related to a festival or a holiday,” co-founder and CEO Zach Schleien told Arab News.
He added: “Then, once you RSVP and confirm you’ll be there, we schedule you up to 10 video speed dates, which last about three minutes each to break the ice.
“Once each date concludes, we ask if you like each other. Then you go on to your next date. When the event ends, you see if you have any matches. If you do, you can then message or video chat with those matches.”
The CEO said that Filteroff takes a more community-based approach to dating, in contrast to the endless swiping of most apps. This, combined with the fact that potential matches are filtered and selected by Filteroff, means that scammers are prevented — at least to some extent — from hiding behind fake profiles.
Schleien launched Filteroff in February 2020 and said the firm was boosted by the pandemic, given that most events around the world at the height of the health crisis had to be held online.
Co-founder Brian Weinreich came on board in October of the same year, and the two succeeded in raising $2.4 million (SR9 million) in seed financing in 2021.
The lead investor was “a well-known beverage company” along with several angel investors, all ex-employees of Airbnb, Tinder and Google Schleien said.
He added: “That investment is all going toward marketing and people. Building out our team — which is presently three — and really accelerating our growth.”
Filteroff’s business model is based on two income streams.
Schleien said: “We have a paid matchmaking service. Our matchmakers will match you with up to four people every day, based on your preferences. And you can also create your own event and sell tickets, and Filteroff receives a commission on the ticket sales.”
The company will not reveal its number of active users, but according to Schleien, it has run over 10,000 virtual events.
He also claimed that “our match rate is about two-and-a-half times higher than Tinder.” Filteroff says its users match about 23 percent of the time.
With Tinder the match rate is about 0.6 percent among men, according to a 2016 study from Queen Mary University of London in the UK, while women are more selective, getting a match rate of 10 percent.
Schleien added: “Filteroff provides a video-first experience and that’s what leads to higher metrics.”
This has resulted in six marriages to date, Schleien claims — one of which was covered by the New York Times.
“We’re now introducing Filteroff to the Gulf region with the Art Dubai event,” Schleien said. “We see the Gulf as a region where telecommunications infrastructure has really improved. And I think the Gulf region aligns with our brand in terms of family and community values.”
However, critics might argue that dating apps of any kind undermine local traditions, where marriages tend to bring two families together in a planned fashion, as opposed to two people meeting by chance and falling in love.
Schleien countered that Filteroff is more of a platonic introduction service without the instant hookup encouraged by other dating apps.
“With Filteroff it doesn’t have to be romantic,” Schleien said. “It could just be a monogamous friendship. Our platform is all about connecting you with other humans.”