Sparkology Puts Elite Spin on Dating and Competes to Enter Y Combinator

4/24/12Follow @jpruth

As more dating websites chase the same customers, it gets harder to see the differences among these companies. Most promise lots of dates, but that does not always translate into successful matches. New York’s Sparkology believes its strategy of only accepting men educated at renowned universities sets it apart from its rivals—and might win the one-year-old startup a spot in the Y Combinator program.

Sparkology’s methods may sound elitist, but founder Alex Furmansky says the goal is to populate his site with men who meet the standards of highly discerning professional women. “We found that the number one complaint women had about other sites was the lack of quality men,” he says.

Sparkology accepts new members through invitations from existing members, rather than the more common method of signing up most anyone willing to create a profile. Furmansky founded the startup last April as an alternative to such sites as Match.com and PlentyofFish, which offer open enrollment. Dating sites that accept the masses with few filters may increase the volume of members, but he believes his screening process improves the caliber of potential dates.

While women must be college educated to join Sparkology, men must be verified graduates of schools chosen from U.S. News & World Report rankings such as Boston College, Columbia University, and University of Oxford. Furmansky confesses, though, that the pedigree of the college is no guarantee of finding the perfect match. “We can’t promise that every man is going to be a genius, rocket scientist,” he says.

This novel approach to online dating, he hopes, will help Sparkology beat the competition to enter the Y Combinator accelerator program. Furmansky is scheduled to travel to Mountain View, CA on Thursday for a final interview. Sparkology raised some seed funding last April from friends and family. Furmansky says acceptance into Y Combinator could give his startup a boost through access to advisors, as well as the network of alumni who graduated from the program.

Sparkology must work hard to prove it is a quality match for Y Combinator. Furmansky says he held an in-house session last Friday with his staff and an investor who bombarded him with questions to help him prepare for the final … Next Page »

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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