Group dating is coming to Philadelphia.
Mixter is a startup that matches current undergraduate and graduate students for blind date-like social gatherings. Three men and three women compose the group on a typical Mixter date. The company’s website, UseMixter.com, was launched in January by Wharton MBA students Lawrence Cole , Joel Englander and Matt Cantatore and Engineering sophomore Fabio Fleita.
In order to take part in Mixter, one person needs to sign up and form a group of three people. After selecting specific preferences — such as “Wharton guys” or “Temple girls” and age — users are contacted by Mixter and are matched with another group. The group’s meet up does not have to be romantic, and the company is considering offering a free match if the first one was unsatisfactory.
“Mixter is a social club that tries to ease a lot of pain in meeting new people,” Cole said. “It takes away some of the anxiety and risk of first date since it’s not necessarily a date.”
Mixter charges $10 per person for the matching process to fund its operations. Englander said that Mixter’s founders set the price because college students are “a demographic that may feel some financial constraint.”
The founders focused on college students because they thought they were an underserved market. A large number of college students cannot use existing online dating sites, according to the founders, because of alcohol-based age restrictions.
Mixter uses both an algorithm and a manual process to match groups. “We think it is really important to have human eye and human common sense,” Englander said, emphasizing Mixter’s human element as a differentiating factor from other blind date sites.
Undergraduate and graduate users are tracked separately, but still allowed interaction if they request it. For example, Mixter would match 24-year-old medical students with undergraduate seniors, based on indicated preference.
“I think there is a desire from college students to meet other people that are at the same place in their life but may be outside of [their] insular community,” Englander said.
Cole added that socializing can be “inorganic” on college campuses.
Mixter, which was developed according to methodology by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Blank , has drawn a lot of users and positive feedback. The company hopes to create a long-term relationship with its users by growing its services as current users age.
The company currently serves students in the Philadelphia region, but it is planning to expand both geographically — its second target city is Boston — and demographically. Members of the LGBT population have already requested the company’s services.