Launching a New Way of Online Dating
So Syncd, the London-based dating app founded by sisters Jessica and Louella “Lou” Alderson, offers an alternative to the typical dating app experience by utilizing a unique algorithm based on personality types to match up potential partners. “We set up So Syncd after I broke up with a long-term partner. I wanted to understand what went wrong, so I started delving into personality type compatibility,” says Jessica Alderson.
“I would say that dating apps can be about more than just looks,” Lou explains. “A lot of people, they're tired of the meaningless swiping that some other apps kind of instill and becomes more of a game than finding those connections.” For two non-technical founders, developing a successful dating app was a challenge that the pair met head-on. This is the story of how they developed their unique startup idea and brought it to market.
So Syncd matches users based on the compatibility of their Myers-Briggs Personality Types. The sixteen Myers-Briggs Personality Types were developed by another familial duo, Isabel Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs. Results are generated through a self-reporting inventory of data created by The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator® and are said to give insight into personality type, strengths, and preferences. Based on this information, companies and services like So Syncd are better able to match corresponding personality types.
“So Syncd is a dating app that matches compatible personality types. So you sign up, you put in I guess the more standard things as you would a normal dating app, but the one big difference is you take our personality test and then we let you know your personality type, which would be four letters, say ESFP [or] INTJ. And then we match you with people who you truly connect with. And the idea is to match partners who have just the right amount of similarities to form a strong connection and understand each other and just the right amount of differences to create a spark.”
The founders Jessica (personality type INFP) and Louella (personality type ESFJ) recognized the opportunity that lies in personality matching as a tool to make romantic connections. “[I]t all started, I guess, with the breakups. So I spent some time working in London and then ended up moving to Australia with my partner at the time ... [A]fter around a year, we ended up breaking up, and I left my job at the same time,” Jessica says. “I decided to basically take a year out, travel kind of backpack around the world, explore, learn about things. And because I had the breakup, I started looking into personality type compatibility. I wanted to understand why it didn't work out and then just became more and more fascinated with it and saw really strong correlations that certain personality type combinations were much better suited than others.”
Upon returning home, the sisters met up over drinks in a London bar and came to a conclusion that would ultimately lead to the foundational principle of So Syncd — there was undoubtedly a better way to find meaningful connections online.
After applying their unique algorithm to Louella’s own successful relationship as well as several of their friends, they received confirmation that their theory and execution of personality matching to identify romantic partners was effective. “[T]o be honest, I didn't really know much about the Myers-Briggs theory at the time,” Lou says. “[T]hen we started applying it to everyone really. [I]t just made so much sense that we started looking at friends [and then] couples. I was in a long-term relationship with my perfect personality match that I had no idea about.” And, the morning after that evening spent discussing the prospect of their dating app concept, the sisters began building the foundation of So Syncd with the intention of creating “a more meaningful way to date.”
Building a Virtual Platform for Real Connections
“The greatest challenge for us was launching a tech company as non-technical founders,” Jessica says of So Syncd’s development. “While Lou previously helped scale a different startup to unicorn status, my background has largely been finance. Between the two of us, we covered a lot of business aspects like fundraising, legal, HR, marketing, and design, but our technical shortcomings were impossible to ignore.”
Juggling these roles was made more intensive with the immediate success of the app. Jessica recounts, “I would say really the day we launched, we could tell it's successful. We [got] thousands of sign-ups as soon as we launched and we've looked at the trajectory of other dating apps and we could see it took them a long time to get to that stage. It was quite obvious to us from the beginning that it was a concept that people liked. And then also during the research phase, we'd seen there were lots of people out there looking for certain personality types and we're like, ‘right, the world needs this app.’"
While technical help was needed, Jessica and Louella, like many startup founders, couldn’t afford to hire full-time help right away, “Early on, we couldn’t make a monetary commitment so we used contractors to help us build our app.” After roughly three or four months, the pair was ready to bring on a part-time Chief Technical Officer (CTO), allowing the startup to overcome technical challenges with confidence. Still, the app was successful in exactly what it set out to do right away, Jessica says. “[W]e actually had at least two success stories from the very first week that we launched.”
For the sister-founders, success has always been about helping their users build meaningful connections based on more than a good selfie or an ego boost, “People are really forming these meaningful connections and quite a lot of them weren't living in the same country, but obviously, during the pandemic, it put into perspective what was important to people which was meaningful connections. And actually, that was just such a great feeling,” Lou explains.
“I think a myth is that some people say, ‘oh, but you don't actually want to help people find their partner because if someone finds their partner, then they leave your app. And then they're not a customer.’ It's such a myth because if someone finds the love of their life on your app, it's such a great thing for your app,” Jessica says. “[We now have] over 750 success stories.” Many more will undoubtedly come.
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