[Startup Interview] Marsha Goei, Co-Founder, Breeze, Netherlands
Breeze is a Dutch-based startup that seeks to make online dating revolve around offline encounters again. It embraces technology to enhance human connection instead of replacing it.
By lowering the bar to offline dating, Breeze hopes to get rid of the high expectations that are linked to first dates. The startup’s Co-founder Marsha Goei elaborates.
Introduce your startup
Breeze is an online dating app for offline dates. At Breeze, you only get a handful of the best matching profiles each day. When matched, there is no endless chatting, but users fill in a datepicker and the date is organised through the app at one of our partnered date locations. Right now we organise over a 1000 dates per month.
Who are the founders of Breeze and what are their professional backgrounds?
We were all students at the TU Delft and know each other through our studies and extracurricular activities. We found each other in our enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. Our philosophy back then? Team over ideas. We started with a team of hard working ambitious students with a diverse skill set. We didn't know what we would build when we started and invalidated quite some ideas before Breeze came up.
Who owns Breeze?
The founders and two investors: Rogier Fischer and Stefan van den Berg.
How is Breeze financed?
For the first year we bootstrapped, recently we received an investment from two angels: Stefan van den Berg (former director of Lexa & country manager Tinder NL) and Rogier Fischer (founder Litebit).
What, in your opinion, are the dynamics that have shaped the online dating space?
Online dating is broken - I'm definitely not the first one to say this.
Dating has become a foremost digital process in the last decade, after the introduction of Tinder in 2012. All popular apps nowadays are variations of the same concept: you swipe through a database and at mutual interest a chatbox opens. It seems fun and efficient, but research has shown that on average people spend 38 hours swiping and chatting per date (Rutgers & Volkskrant, 2017).
The root cause is a malicious business incentive. These apps generate revenue when showing more ads, mining more user data and selling more in-app purchases and premium subscriptions. This results in optimization on amount of time a user spends in the app, instead of optimization on meaningful interactions.
Why did you start Breeze? What opportunities did you see?
First of all, we didn't like online dating, our friends didn't like it and the internet didn't like it as well. Secondly, all dating apps are basically the same principle with a different marketing variation.
We questioned this status-quo and wondered whether the digital possibilities at hand today could be used to actually humanize online dating.
What problems does Breeze solve?
It takes a lot of time and emotional energy to actually meet someone face-to-face via conventional apps (the 38 hours mentioned earlier). So if actually meeting new people in real life is your intention, then Breeze is definitely your app. If your intention is to look at other people and have some laughs in an online chat, Breeze is not your app.
What gives Breeze the competitive advantage?
We take away all the hassle before the date. The other apps stop earlier in the process, after making a match, and don't incentivise their users to actually date.
Who forms your customer base?
Singles that don't like to waste time online before having a fun, low key date. Most of our target group lives in De Randstad, is higher educated and has just started working.
What is your growth strategy?
First we are looking to grow more in the Netherlands. Adoption within our target group is already pretty high, but we can still grow there. We're also getting more and more users outside our direct target group. Later, in 2022, we'd like to expand internationally and will probably do so via a city-by-city approach.
In which areas are you looking to establish your presence?
Our mission is to take dating offline again. The big hairy audicious goal? Having organised 5 million dates in 5 years.
These ambitions obviously can't be reached in The Netherlands alone. If all goes right, we will expand to other European cities in 2022. We'd also love to launch in the US one day.
What are your plans for the coming 12 months?
A few things. We will improve the product and algorithm further: we still feel we can become significantly better in setting up dates for our users. We'll also put work into keeping the steep curve we've had for the last months. If all goes well, who knows, we might even have started an international adventure.
This is an entry for the Dutch Startup Competition 2021
Read about the Dutch Startup Competition and how to participate here