Ken Deckinger, is an old pro at innovating the dating scene. HurryDate, a speed dating/matchmaking company that he founded with childhood friend Adele (Testani) Tongish in 2001 was a huge success. It was acquired by Spark Networks (the parent company of JDate.com) in 2007, and at one point even attracted the attention of CNN.
However, Deckinger's latest project is WAY more personal and important to him.
It's how he met his wife.
This week, Deckinger, Tongish, and Ken's wife Jess beta-launched a new take on online dating with their site, JessMeetKen. Their innovative idea is one of the best takes on online dating I've ever seen.
The way JessMeetKen works is that women post profiles of their male friends on the site-men cannot post their own profiles. Women searching the site sift through the profiles and then must reach out to the woman who posted their guy friend in order to make the connection. The original postee has discretion over who she connects her male friend with, choosing the best match.
As Deckinger explained the logic behind the concept, "Most guys don't post very attractive profiles of themselves on dating sites, they usually include pictures with their bros, etc."
"Women know how to sell a guy better than most guys do," he added. "By the women putting the profile online, the man's most endearing qualities are highlighted."
JessMeetKen is also a much better way for women to find better matches for dates online. As Deckinger said, the online dating world "is a very noisy environment for women." "Desirable women get so many unwanted emails and tons of spam, its a challenge to sift through."
"JessMeetKen offers quality introductions without all that noise," he continued. "It's a social vouching system without leveraging your social network."
I asked Deckinger how they confirm that the people who are posting to the site are actually women and not men trying to beat the system. He explained that to use the site, a Facebook login is required. If a guy tries to work around the system, there is a quick popup that says something along the lines of, "Whoa, you're a dude, go get a woman," Deckinger explained.
Will this new online dating project be a success, well, it already has one very good test case to point to as an example of how the system works: Jess and Ken themselves.
As the tagline for the site, "It's How We Met," explains, the two met in a manner similar to the way that the site works. Ken and Jess, who now have three kids (including a newborn), were originally set up by Deckinger's business partner and friend, Tongish, who created a witty and honest profile of Deckinger on an online dating site.
Around that same time, Jess had posted a profile for one of her own co-workers on the same site and noticed Ken’s profile. She reached out to Adele to "find out his deal."
Tongish immediately knew that Jess was a perfect fit for Ken, forwarding Jess's message to him with the subject line, “Holy $#!& it’s your wife!”
Two weeks later, as Deckinger told me, the pair met at the Plaza Hotel in New York. They set up the date for two o'clock with the thought that they could bail by four if the date wasn't working.
The two went to the Central Park Zoo, and as Deckinger explained, "Within twenty minutes, we both knew that we were going to marry the other." The date ended up lasting until midnight. The two were married four years later in 2007.
So how did that become JessMeetKen, as Deckinger said, "We told the story for years, and most guys were like 'great', but women would go apeshit over it."
So, at some point, with Tongish and Deckinger's dating site background, they just decided to build the site.
JessMeetKen launched in beta this week in Boston. The site has already started to build some traction with a ton of new profiles being added in week one.
"It's going well so far," Deckinger told me. "We pushed it out in beta this week, we are just trying to get it out there. So far the response has been tremendous."
Deckinger, who is working out of Dave Balter's Smarterer space at 500 Harrison, is also glad he decided to build the company in Boston. "The community in Boston has been so helpful in getting this going," he said. "I couldn't have done this without the community."
JessMeetKen will have an official launch party at the Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge on February 11th. But in the meantime, if you are a 'Ken', have one of your friends post a profile on the site. If you are a 'Jess', reach out to one of the postees to try and connect with a what could be your future husband.
The site already has one REALLY good case study. I expect quite a few more very soon.