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Exploring Life & Business with Taly Matiteyahu of Blink

Today we’d like to introduce you to Taly Matiteyahu.

Hi Taly, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
The idea for Blink was born in 2012 after I ate at one of the few blackout restaurants in the world. It wasn’t the food that made the dinner so special, but the experience of connecting with strangers in complete darkness. Without seeing or being seen, we were able to truly connect with the others at our table, free of looks-driven assumptions and self-consciousness. In the darkness, we were freed of our biases and our inhibitions. That night sparked the thought: would people date a wider variety of people and find more satisfying relationships if they were able to make an emotional connection with someone before swiping left? In March 2020, I finally began turning the vision into reality. While I first envisioned Blink as a live blind speed dating event in the darkness, COVID-19 made that an impossibility. I quickly pivoted to turning Blink into an app for audio-only blind speed dating (think Love is Blind meets Clubhouse). While we’d still love to host live blind speed dating events for members in the future as part of an experiential offering, the app will enable us to reach more people and scale faster.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Getting Blink off the ground as a non-technical founder with a limited budget has had its challenges. From wireframing to creating marketing assets, writing product specs to drafting an operating agreement, finding a developer to developing a budget — building something from the ground up while holding a day job requires A LOT of hustling and learning through doing. Some of the lessons were welcome and expected ones, such as how to wireframe, how to develop a marketing strategy, how to manage a crowdfunding campaign, and how to be super crafty with a small budget. But some of the lessons have been hard ones and, to be honest, ones I wish I never had to learn. I have had to deal with unexpected development issues, navigate obscure banking rules as the recipient of crowdfunding, manage corporate structure complications, and separate from a co-founder. While there were moments I thought I would fail (e.g., being $2000 short of our Kickstarter goal with one day left to the campaign), I’ve managed to push through. And somehow, though I thought I would be managing Blink alone, I have rallied an incredible network of friends to work alongside me and have been so energized in the process.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Blink?
In a world where we aren’t all professional photographers or social media influencers, we’re expected to boil down our entire essence into a curated profile to be superficially judged on first impression… and then expect these surface-level snapshots to entice people to truly get to know us. Blink was founded to change this looks-first approach and allow people to more meaningfully connect with each other without padded profiles or professional dating profile gurus. We envision a world where people put who someone is, rather than what someone looks like, first.

To build a dating space where a person’s personality, values, sense of humor, passions, and quirks are what set them apart — not their looks, race, ethnicity, name, or fashion choices — we’re:

1) Putting audio first, so people can focus on getting to know one another rather than superficially swiping. Our members go on 10 minute audio-only dates (Blink Dates) as their first encounter with one another

2) Eliminating user profiles made up of curated photos and prompt responses, so people don’t waste time scrolling through non-representative photos and reading quotes from The Office (don’t get us wrong, we love The Office, but even a mutual love of it doesn’t tell one much about compatibility). Members only have to upload a single photo and provide basic details like their age, gender identification, and sexuality

3) Determining chemistry potential via Glances, where members see anonymized, profile-less photos

Blink is proud to be mission driven. We’re not only working to build a dating app that allows people to find real connections, but we’re working to create spaces free of biases based on immutable characteristics. While we can’t account for attraction between people, we know we can help people overcome implicit biases. In doing so, we hope currently-underserved communities, such as Black women, Asian men, and people who don’t look like Idris Elba or Gal Gadot, can find partners they’re otherwise unable to connect with due to algorithms that under-rank their profiles.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
In addition to my parents, who worked so hard to give me a life full of opportunities, there are two other people I’d like to call out (although it truly takes an army and I am so thankful for the support I received from my entire family, my friends, and my former and current colleagues).

My life partner Doug has helped me get me where I am. He encouraged me and supported me when I wanted to leave legal practice after only a year, despite the fact that it meant losing half my salary while still shouldering my immense student debt. When I got an incredible job opportunity across the country, he sacrificed his own career development so I could accept the role. When I wanted to start building Blink in the middle of a pandemic and needed to invest a substantial amount of our personal savings into it, he didn’t hesitate once in encouraging me to take the leap, even though his job in product management at a ticketing company was in jeopardy. And every evening when I wrap up my day job and turn to working on Blink, he’s there — bringing me a snack if I’m hungry and coffee if I’m tired, taking our pups for their evening walk, making us dinner, and cleaning up the dishes. Throughout the journey, he’s let me pick his brain about product development and marketing, let me rant when things were going awry, given me advice when I asked for it, comforted me in my moments of failure, and cheered me on in my moments of success. He’s been the most incredible and loving partner and has provided unending and unconditional support.

I’m lucky and privileged to have a second amazing partner, Laura. As my co-founder and business partner, she has helped make Blink a reality. Even before joining the Blink team, she was an incredible resource, sharing product and marketing ideas with me and brainstorming concepts for fun. As part of the team, she has brought so much passion, ingenuity, and innovation to the company. Not only does she make Blink better, but she also makes me better. With our shared vision and commitment to reducing bias based on physical characteristics, I know we will be able to create a more equitable dating space and world.

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