Introducing Once: the new app that heralds a return to ‘personal dating’

Introducing Once: the new app that heralds a return to ‘personal dating’

But there were no dating apps that actually focused on matching people based on their interests and preferences, as well as looks, compatibility and location

It’s a situation that the creators of Once, a new app that inserts a human matchmaker into the middle of digital dating, are rebelling against. They believe that that reasoned human intuition is an integral part of social interactions, and that in removing this completely, relationships have suffered.

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“Technology has changed the way people date,” says Jean Meyer, CEO of Once. “You can talk to people at bars, pubs, parties, weddings and so on. However, you can also sit at home and just ‘like’ profiles on an app. There are two very different approaches now.

“And that’s why we created Once. We think our app combines this real-world magic of meeting someone for the first time, but in a format that people are familiar with. It’s a great mix of traditional and contemporary dating.”

Once has an interface that indeed looks reassuringly familiar; like Tinder, but without the red detailing symbolic of passion and lust. However, unlike the sole parameter of distance that many ‘hook-up’ apps use to determine potential matches, Once uses the intuition and match-making abilities of real people.

“Everyday at noon, Once recommends one potential match,” explains Meyer. “This person is handpicked for each of our users by a real human matchmaker. You then have 24 hours to decide if you want to give it a go, and if you both ‘like’ each other, you connect and can start chatting.

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“We wanted to focus on quality over quantity and believe that only a human can truly ‘match’ people properly – not a machine. It’s the tailor-made matching process that is the big difference between Once and other dating apps.”

“We looked into what dating apps weren’t offering people,” says Meyer. “There was a large emphasis on simplicity and numbers, with most apps offering the same experience – with a minor change here and there. There’s much more to it than just ‘yes ‘or ‘no’.”

The app, which has just launched in Britain after gaining 150,000 users within a single month of hitting the French market, clearly appeals to the modern dater. Could this mean that the days of Tinder are finally over, and that we may return to the ‘golden age’ of dating – whilst still acknowledging that technology plays a prominent part in our modern social lives?

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“Yes, we think so,” asserts Meyer. “Once offers that personal matchmaking service, but brings it to people in an easy accessible and popular format – via an app. Quality, personalised matches, but on your smartphone.

“There’s obviously a demand for other dating apps too, as many of them have had great success with their relevant audiences, but a lot of people are looking for something more serious than just a hook-up or short-term thing. That’s why we created Once.”

With a UK gender ratio of in favour of female users, men seem slightly more apprehensive about this next step in online dating. Meyer, however, believes that this split is inconsequential.

“It’s not tied to one gender,” says the CEO,” it’s tied to the fact that many people want to have longer-lasting, deeper relationships. We actually notice that women are much more proactive than men on the app, and tend to make their decision more quickly.”

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If men are indeed slowing down when considering potential partners – taking a step back from the frantic immediacy of Tinder-style apps – does this mean that we’re heading for a day when apps are taken out of the dating arena altogether?

“I think they still have their merits,” says Meyer. “Dating apps have helped people talk to others that they would never have considered if they were, say, just standing in a bar. This applies to both men and women, and having a conversation that is confined to a written message has made talking to someone new not only much easier, but it also helps increase their confidence.”

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