Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that dating in the modern age can be a minefield.
Dating app users typically cite frustrations such as talking to someone who drops off mid-conversation, moves too quickly or too slowly, or misrepresents themselves entirely.
But perhaps the problem isn’t the people on the apps, but the way the app in question is structured.
Enter Blindlee—an app that was recently hailed as a” Chatroulette for dating, but with female-friendly guardrails in the form of a user-controlled video blur effect” by TechCrunch.
Ignite Visibility CEO John Lincoln sat down with Blindlee CEO and co-founder Sacha Nasan to discuss everything from the trials and tribulations of modern romance to the guerilla marketing tactics that got people interested in his one-of-a-kind dating app.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you won’t want to miss this story!
What We’ll Cover:
What is Blindlee?
Before dating apps even made their debut in contemporary culture, there was an element of surprise when it came to dating. What will the person look like? What will they sound like?
Today, many of these apps and websites instead fixate on physical attractiveness above all else.
But Sacha and his business partner Glenn had a different idea. What if there was a way to gamify the dating experience so users could focus on the things that really matter? After all, looks can be deceiving and appearances alone don’t guarantee a match.
With Blindlee, there’s no endless swiping or decision paralysis. Instead, singles of a similar age are connected at random and invited to engage in a 3-minute ice-breaker video call.
The catch is that the video feed kicks off at a blur rate of 100%. Once the potential daters are on the call, the app will suggest topics to get the conversation moving. After the discussion ends, each dater will have the option to officially “match” with the other. If both parties agree that they would like to explore the potential relationship further, they can continue chatting via text and eventually meet up in-person.
It’s essentially a blind dating app and speed dating app blended together in one platform—the only one of its kind.
It plays on the notion of Love is Blind—which is also the name of a popular Netflix reality television show that took the world by storm in early 2020.
The premise is akin to other dating shows, except for one minor detail—contestants do not know what their potential other half looks like prior to getting engaged to them.
Ironically, Blindlee was launched long before the show’s launch, even using the #loveisblind hashtag on social media to promote the app.
You could argue that Blindlee lets you live out your Love is Blind fantasy in real life.
Benefits of Not Seeing Your Potential Match
Most people can’t fathom the idea of talking to a possible life partner without seeing their face first. This begs the question—what types of behaviors are synonymous with people who use Blindlee’s service? Any upsides or downsides?
According to Sacha, it all depends on what the person’s intentions are.
Many dating apps have users who signed up because they’re interested in a more casual relationship. In that sense, they’re looking at things like appearance, clothing, job, etc.
But others looking to pursue something more meaningful make judgments based on different inputs like body language, how intelligent the person comes across, etc.
While physical attraction is still part of the formula, it doesn’t make up the entirety of the person’s first impression. As the old adage goes—“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
To Sacha, this rings true, especially in today’s world where good looks are often overvalued when it comes to dating.
The Journey from Startup to Dating App Powerhouse
Every business venture takes a different path to success.
In the case of Blindlee, Sacha notes that the idea was met with plenty of criticism in the app’s early days.
How could he be sure that people would be interested in a system in which you don’t even get to see the person you’re talking to?
After hearing dozens of stories—many of which were from Sacha’s very own friends and family members—where people were being routinely catfished and lied to, he was confident that Blindlee offered a unique solution to combat these issues head-on.
And instead of relying on money from investors, he opted to create an MVP prototype, release the app out into the market, create some buzz around it, and see what the response was.
The product underwent several iterations and adjustments based on the feedback they received.
For example, in beta, with calls that took place between a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman, either individual was capable of controlling the blur function. Sacha and his team found that it was often men that made the decision to unblur the video right at the beginning of the call.
In an attempt to make the app appeal more to women, they instead gave females the sole power of controlling the blur function, allowing them to reduce it all the way to 0%.
To avoid being fully one-sided, men on the other end have to agree to reduce the blur as well.
In the case of calls between two people of the same sex, the person who accepts the call has control over the blur level.
Getting the Word Out
Once the logistics of the app were established, it was now time to actively market.
However, marketing a dating app is tricky as your strategy needs to be air-tight and really showcase your app’s potential. Without backing from investors, Sacha decided to shift his focus to the press since, at the end of the day, there’s nothing like word-of-mouth publicity to boost your business.
Think about it—given the option between a product with several industry accreditations and its counterpart suggested to us by someone we trust, we’re going to go with the one that was recommended to us.
With this in mind, Sacha started reaching out to journalists who had extensive experience in the specific niche of online dating.
He collected more than 300 names and added them to a Google Excel sheet, accompanied by their email addresses and the publications they were affiliated with.
He then searched for their public profile picture (LinkedIn or Twitter), saved the image, and manually blurred it. Since journalists receive thousands of pitches per day, Sacha proposed that the Blindlee team send them an email with their personalized blurred photo, giving them a glimpse of the app in action.
By conveying the purpose of the app visually instead of textually, this helped set Blindlee from other pitches.
Sacha said this unconventional approach resulted in two reactions—one being “why are you using my picture without permission?” and the second being “this looks interesting…please tell me more.”
With the dating app market growing more and more saturated, the entire campaign would’ve fallen flat had Blindlee not been pitched to journalists in such a unique way. The blurred photo of the recipient, as risky as it was, helped them stand out from the crowd.
Not to mention, this led to Blindlee being covered in major publications like TechCrunch, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Marie Claire, Esquire, Vox, and many more.
Online Dating the Age of COVID-19
Blindlee launched in late 2019, which meant that by the time news of the app reached the masses, it was March of 2020, when COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were starting to be implemented in countries across the globe.
Since people were encouraged to social distance, dating shifted into unprecedented territory. More singles were looking to leverage calling and video chat features to get to know their potential suitors.
Capitalizing on this phenomenon early on, Blindlee was offering video at a time when sites like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge still didn’t have in-app video capabilities.
While it’s available now on their platforms, it wasn’t even originally in their pipeline. Blindlee was a pioneer in that respect, which explains why its popularity has skyrocketed over the last year.
What’s Next for Blindlee?
While press is important, it’s also temporary. It can lead to a surplus of app downloads over the course of a few days or weeks, but that momentum always dies down.
Sacha says the team will continue to refine Blindlee’s press and media planning strategy, as well as publish blog posts and launch social media campaigns more frequently.
While other apps like Tinder and Bumble advertise their brand through hosted events and paid sponsorships, Blindlee is still a startup.
That’s why Sacha says his company is directing its efforts towards guerilla marketing tactics that are more disruptive and impactful in nature.
That’s the beauty of the entrepreneurial journey—there’s no one path to success.
Like it or not, dating apps have become a staple of this generation, enabling us to meet and form connections with people we would otherwise never meet.
While there’s no way to predict what this industry will look like in the future, we do know one thing—Blindlee is already making waves in the market despite it being less than 2 years old.
Who knows—maybe a blurred video call will give you the clarity you need to make the right next move in your dating life?