Finding love may not be easy, but a few Duke students are trying to make the pursuit a little less daunting.
A group of student entrepreneurs introduced a new match-making website—PickyU.com—to the Duke community this Valentine’s Day. The site was created by members of the entrepreneurial selective living group InCube, who were charged with launching a nonprofit company within a 24-hour span as a part of rush. The website leverages a user’s pool of Facebook friends at Duke to present, based on user preferences, various matches that users can “crush.” If a “crush” is reciprocated by one the six matches, both users are notified.
“We designated the problem: dating on campus,” said senior Sid Primas, one of InCube’s board members. “One of the top three things people complain about—guys and girls—is that they can’t find relationships on campus.”
The website that launched Wednesday is a “soft launch” Primas said, which means the developers are focused on getting user feedback on the site. An improved version of PickyU.com will relaunch Feb. 27 following user feedback and other revisions.
As of Monday night, 376 people have logged in to PickyU, and there have been 34,627 choices executed. About 178 crushes have been submitted, but only two matches have been made, Primas noted.
When users log on to PickyU for the first time, they pinpoint a spot on a triangle that represents the ratio of what they value in a potential partner. Users identify how they weigh the factors of “dynamic personality,” “engaging intellect” and “attractive physique.” The total value of the three qualities must add to 100 percent. After completing this portion of the evaluation, users are asked to choose who they would rather date between two Facebook friends. Before users can view results, they must make at least 30 choices.
The results are anonymous, but users may choose to “crush” the people the website recommends for them. If the feeling is mutual, both users will be contacted, said junior InCube member Yang Su, who runs the technical end of the project and was active in coding the website.
The version of the website that launched last Tuesday is what its creators call a minimum viable product, Su added. The designers hope to have a more complete, updated version launched before Spring break, which will be improved based on user feedback and more data in the system.
The Facebook integration, which makes accessing and using consenting individuals’ data easy, was a core part of the idea for the website, Su said.
“We didn’t want to just make another dating site,” he said. “When you don’t know someone, it sort of automatically defaults to a first impression, based on looks.... We see there’s no value in that. We only restricted it to people you actually know, that you would be able to think about.”
The idea behind the matching design is that the person a user chooses will be the better reflection of his or her preferences as indicated on the triangle, Primas said. Because the matching mechanism is based on algorithms, as the website collects more data, the results will become more interesting and meaningful.
“People are inherently bad at reporting who they are and what they want in other people,” he said. “It’s a question of... how do we leverage your friends to make better matches for you?”
On the first weekend, there were approximately 25 people involved in PickyU’s creation, Primas said. Currently, there are five to six members actively working on the website.
The privacy surrounding the matchmaking process was a concern for sophomore Danish Husain, who said his roommate fooled him into thinking every person he selected would be notified.
“I freaked out for a minute or two before I realized it was private,” Husain said.
Although the idea for the website came to mind because members of InCube recognized the lack of dating as a problem on campus, Primas said he does not necessarily see the website as fixing this problem directly. Instead, he hopes it will generate conversations about Duke’s dating culture.
Primas also noted that he thinks students are flooding to PickyU now because of its novelty but that he hopes it will evolve into more of a resource to facilitate students meeting in person.
“You’re already friends with the people it matches you with because it’s through Facebook,” Husain said. “If you like the person enough, you should be able to ask for a casual dinner just because they’re your friends.”