Schmooze: the dating app based on memes, not looks

Founded by entrepreneur Vidya Madhavan, Schmooze revolutionises the dating game by using humour as an entry point. As the old saying goes, where words fail, memes succeed. Besides, Tinder is so 2015.

Whether it’s sweet talking bar staff for an extra measure of vodka or finessing your way into a fancy event, schmoozing, AKA the art of being friendly to get what you want, is an essential skill. To some extent, this is the premise of dating app Schmooze, minus the manipulating part. Developed by entrepreneur and Stanford graduate Vidya Madhavan, it combines machine learning and everyone’s favourite way of communicating cultural information: memes.

Founded just five months ago, Schmooze operates on the premise that, more often than not, a shared sense of humour brings people together. While it was initially engineered as a means for people to foster new friendships, Madhavan noticed that they were actually using the app as a way to spark up romance.

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She tightened up the idea and, soon, Schmooze grew into a Gen‑Z matchmaking project. After all, this is a group of people who already largely communicate via memes. Why not harness that in an effort to lightheartedly move away from the looks-based, sometimes superficial nature of other dating apps, like Tinder or Hinge? Bonding over the Real Housewives’ Woman Yells at Cat’ or The Stages of Smoking a Joint’ memes sounds like way better ice-breakers than cheesy chat up lines, anyway.

A Schmooze beta test, undertaken last summer with 200 Stanford students, has since led to more than 10,000 downloads around the US. People can swipe right or left on over 5000 memes, which are currently generated by the app until it gets big enough to delve into content moderation.

With 200 memes added daily, Madhavan says that over 90,000 matches have been made to date (!) and Schmooze also recently secured $270,000 in seed funding from Silicon Valley firm Ulu Ventures. In a pretty meta turn of events, the app has also made its way to TikTok, reaching its core audience in the process. If memes are your love language, what are you waiting for?


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