Last updated on March 13, 2015 | by Aet Suvari0
For those not familiar with MeetMindful who would you say the site is for?
MeetMindful attracts the kind of people who are into health and wellness, spirituality, things like meditation, yoga, tai-chi. Also people who are into health and fitness, really healthy living, cooking healthy foods, triathlons, things like that. I think the easiest way to put it is that we attract the WholeFoods customers.
What were some of your frustrations using traditional sites like Match or OKCupid?
I was on both of these sites when I moved to Denver. My biggest frustration was that it was really hard to find people who were into the things I was. At that time I was really hardcore into yoga, I was still vegan at that time and I meditated like I still do, and I was just generally into positive healthy authentic lifestyle.
I realised it’s hard to search for these kind of people on Match and OKCupid and on so-called mainstream dating sites. They’re not set up to attract and help people of this lifestyle. I know dating is like finding a needle in a haystack but for me and for what I was looking for it was like finding a needle in a field of haystacks.
Your Twitter profile describes you as an ‘entrepreneur on a mindful mission to evolve the dating industry’. We like it! In what ways will MeetMindful depart from the usual conventions of online dating?
It’s true. I’m definitely on a mission to evolve the dating industry. I think that there’s a lot that could be improved upon and one of the biggest things is bringing back authenticity into a market that is just so crowded with inauthentic things – anything from fake profiles to people who show up not looking like their photos or who say that they’re someone that they’re not.
What I believe is that if we can actually create and cultivate an incredibly authentic community of people who are ready to show up, not just hook up, people who are ready to do the work that it requires to evolve to a most beautiful and perfect version of themselves and do that with other people – if we can get those people together then we can break through the status quo of the dating industry. So, how would MeetMindful depart from the usual conventions of online dating? We try and ask different questions.
We give people the opportunity to become a little more vulnerable. We ask people what their biggest passions are and what’s one thing that they’re working on right now. For example, my answer is that I’m trying to slow down and be a little more grounded and not be so busy in my life. I think it’s important to people to be able to open up in a profile like that, not just try to put on the mask of who they think they should be.
With MeetMindful still in Beta, are you launching nationwide across the US or city by city? Oh, and any plans for global domination, so mindful daters in the UK have something to look forward to?
Oh, we have plans for global domination! We represent about 25 countries already across the globe, which is shocking given the fact that we are such a young site.
We have been attracting users from Australia to England and France and they email us asking how they can help grow MeetMindful in their area because they are so excited about that.
So that points to a lot of great things in our future I would say. A third of our user base is here in Colorado. As to the rest of the members we have about three or four concentrated areas that are growing pretty quickly – New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and also South Florida. So we’ll be doing a national launch in May, launch date has been set to May 28. So you’ll be seeing a lot more of us both nationally in the US and abroad.
What are your thoughts on ‘being amongst your tribe’ and ‘social vetting’ in the context of online dating?
I think that this is really important and this is one of the things that we talk about a lot. Something that we’ve seen that helps us grow to such an authentic community like I mentioned earlier. For example, what this looks like on some sites and some apps is that they require you to send an invitation to your friends who you’re connected to in Facebook.
That’s how people come to join the site – because if I’m a cool person and I’ve got my life together and I’m going places and I’m authentic, then the people that I’m connected to naturally should not be too far from that as well. One of the things that we’re going to adopt is allowing people to endorse their friends for their mindful living practices.
So when I’m on MeetMindful’s new app that comes out in May, I can say: you know what, I have a couple of friends who are vegetarians or yoga teachers and who would be great for the community, so I’ll nominate them or endorse them. This way the community begins to grow not only organically, which is wonderful, but also with the mindful edge that we are looking for.
How has your experience of running Yoga Dates informed and impacted MeetMindful?
Oh man, it was a catalyst for everything! When I moved here I started an events company called Yoga Dates and we did events for both singles and couples. The thing that really took off and got people excited was the singles’ yoga events.
And what I noticed is that people will come up to me all the time and they would pour their hearts out and they would say: Thank you so much for doing this, it’s so hard for me to meet like-minded people and you are finally giving us an opportunity to do that in an intentional way. It means we’re not just getting a crowd of people together in a yoga event where single people have to look around awkwardly wondering who else is single, hoping that they could talk to them, but actually holding space for that.
Holding space for them to connect and having them show up intentionally to do so. Another thing about Yoga Dates that made me realise it was much bigger than just yoga was that people would show up to the events and they didn’t even do yoga, they’d never done it before. Guys would show up and they had never done yoga! Who does that? I was shocked!
It turns out that these men for example were really into martial arts or meditation and they just knew that this was their tribe. So that was my first aha!-moment. So, it’s not just about yoga, it’s the why behind of why we do yoga or why we meditate. And that’s what brought us to MeetMindful.
In your AMP interview you talked about speeding up the process from searching to messaging to meeting up. How does MeetMindful help to fast track that process?
That’s a really good question, it’s so important. Yes, my conversation with Casey from Authentic Man Programme was awesome and we went on a lot of tangents. One of the things we talked about was how important it is to get offline and meet up in person.
Right now our platform is pretty simple and provides just basic messaging back and forth but as we grow and launch the app that I mentioned is coming out in May, there will be tips and pieces of advice for people to help guide them along their online dating process.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of launching and running a dating site?
Only one? Actually, I love the challenge. I’ve really settled in to the uncertainty of it all and I think that letting go has allowed us to let it grow with even more confidence.
The most challenging aspect of launching and running the dating site is that as the CEO and founder I sometimes feel a little bit far away from the activity on the site itself. There are days that go by when I might not get to connect with the customers and I might not get to read their articles.
But as the whole point of this is to be connected and to help the community, for me the biggest challenge is the practice of making sure that I stay connectetd to the community that we’re growing as I do with all the other business stuff like investor decks, team meetings and crunching numbers on Excel sheets.
And the most rewarding/surprising aspects?
It has definitely been when we get emails from people who want to cancel their accounts because they’ve met someone on our site. I can’t think of many companies that get excited when they essentially lose a customer and we do actually have plans to continue to serve our members once they meet people, so it won’t always be the case of losing the customer, but it just makes me so happy to hear that. And it’s like, OK, cool, we just fulfilled our mission, one person at a time.
If you could give only one piece of online dating help to our visitors what would it be?
One piece? If I had to put it down to one piece…. OK, this would be it. You know, profile creation is a big deal, it’s how you put your best foot forward and really show who you are.
One of the things that I see a lot of people doing is filling the open form or ‘About me’ section with something like: I’m an outgoing, outdoorsy, lovable, funny, happy person who has the zest for life. Which is awesome, right? It’s great to be able to describe yourself that way! But everyone does that and it becomes nondescriptive like background noise.
For example, I was coaching a friend of mine who just joined our site and she started off with something like that. I said, this is great Amy, but from what I know about you I would say something like this: I own a home on a top of a mountain that is called Namaste Lodge and every weekend it’s filled with amazing people from all over the world who come and visit. And we snow-shoe, we ski and we play Cards Against Humanity, we make amazing meals and drink exquisite wine.
It gives a snapshot into somebody’s life rather than being merely descriptive of a personality. So… my piece of advice would be to do as much as you can with your profile to actually give a snapshot of who you are rather than try to describe who you are.
Thanks so much to Amy for giving us such thoughtful and resourceful answers (and Cat for organising it!) we love what you’re doing at MeetMindful and will be rooting for you 🙂