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Looking for a dating site you can trust? Search no more.
|Amber Brooks • 5/18/16|
The Short Version: A dating site on a mission, Mesh set out to solve the problems of online dating by automatically weeding out incompatible people using filtering features like Mismatch and Dealbreakers. The site even uses its algorithm to suggest a perfect first-date location for you and your match. A free, selective, and positive place to flirt, MeshBetter.com empowers you to have a better dating experience with singles who meet your standards.
When I created my first online dating profile, I had many reservations about putting myself out there as target practice for any guy online. I made sure my photo was blurry. I was brief in my profile descriptions. Crossing my fingers as I signed up, I hoped the creeps would pass me by.
And yet, day after day, I found myself buried under a barrage of messages. “I don’t say this to just anyone,” one guy assured me, “you have a really nice smile.”
That sure sounded authentic and original to me. I soon found myself dreading my inbox and feeling resentful or skeptical toward even the nice guys who cropped up.
Burnout is inevitable for users of the typical dating site. Many women looking for a match online have to dig through half a dozen one-worded messages of “yo” and “sup” just to find someone who might be worthwhile. It’s an exhausting and demoralizing process that hurts singles on both sides. One person is inundated with messages, while the other is struggling to be heard amidst the throng.
Asher Snyder set out to change all that. He founded Mesh Labs to build a better dating site: one that sees its users as people rather than a source of revenue. He dreamed of a dating site that was free, private, and individualized.
Today, Mesh streamlines dating for singles. Its slogan is “Experience Better.” The goal isn’t simply to find you a match, but to give you a good experience on every date you go on. Through its carefully designed filters and features, this site goes above and beyond most dating services.
“The premise was to solve the online dating problem,” Asher said. “Overall creepiness and overwhelming choice was a big problem.”
On Mesh, the inbox automatically selects matches and weeds out the rest. This easy system has quickly caught on, with over 20,000 members living in urban places like New York and Portland. High user retention and word-of-mouth is growing the site to a wider audience.
“We’re not Okcupid; we don’t have a million users,” Asher said, before adding, “not yet.”
Extensive programming experience and frustration with online dating led to this unique dating project. Coding since he was 11 years old, Asher began working as a software professional when he moved away from home at the young age of 14. His journey to the online dating industry began with his own personal account on OkCupid, back when it was more exploratory and less date-oriented.
As this popular website evolved from low-pressure questionnaire to high-traffic dating site, the trouble began.
Asher describes a setting wherein users get bogged down by too many messages, not all of which are written with tact, respect, and punctuation. From his own inbox he witnessed the widespread discouragement that singles felt. He realized that rather than helping people, current dating services were making users more jaded and overwhelmed.
“I started to feel how the saturation and the creepiness affected the whole ecosystem,” Asher said. “If the high-quality users aren’t having a good time, then no one’s having a good time. All the unsatisfying experiences were going to lead to the destruction of dating — it wouldn’t have any value.”
He felt so strongly about this that he left his job as a director at AppNexus to build something new. He envisioned a compatibility filtering system that would create more value to the messages that show up in the user’s inbox.
Rather than an overcrowded site, he wanted a purposeful, streamlined system that connects like-minded singles in a way that makes sense. He believed that an endless, unfiltered dating pool isn’t the best way to help find singles a relationship.
“Especially in an urban city, it becomes really crazy, because if you wanted to, you could date one person every day for the rest of your life, and still have more people to date,” Asher said.
There are choices aplenty in the world — what people need is a way to filter all that in a simple interface. The Mismatch and Dealbreaker features can help narrow down the dating field.
Asher had the skills, the data, and the technology, and he soon pulled together a team of Brooklynites just as passionate as he was. Together, they created a solution to the two main issues in online dating: quality and choice. And they called it Mesh.
Asher is upfront that he intended Mesh to be very female-friendly. “Everything that we do is completely totally built to protect women and to make it easier for them, giving them quality positive experiences,” he says.
To satisfy single women, he designed a site of custom-preference filters and personality-based choice. Mesh’s distinctive features and easy usability focuses on quality over quantity. The site emphasizes getting to know people over browsing quickly through profile pics.
The founder believes that his site can up the probability of finding a compatible match, giving the user an overall faster and friendlier experience online.
Mismatch is Mesh’s classic feature, the first line of defense against creeps. Mismatch uses an algorithm to filter out undesirable messages and people. From your stated standards to more subtle measures, this system carefully designates matches and mismatches. The compatible show up in your inbox, while the incompatible are sent to the Mismatch folder.
Mesh scans messages and profiles to break that raw data down into actionable terms. The site knows when a message is vulgar or explicit. It also knows when the grammar matches your profile’s grammar, and it compares previous messages to get a feel for what you usually respond to.
“It takes that all together and essentially creates a score relative to how you behave and what you act on,” Asher said.
The more you use the site, the more it learns about you. It’s a smart system, cataloging behavior into an efficient message filter.
Mismatch’s inbox filters are automatic, intuitive, and comprehensive. You can still view the messages in your Mismatch folder, and if you decide to move someone out of Mismatch and begin communication, the system learns from that.
“On Mesh you have a curated, clean inbox with people you actually want to date,” he said. “Over time, you would then trust your inbox more, so that leads to a higher response rate.”
Just like many popular dating websites, Mesh asks personality questions to get a read on the user’s personal character. What’s different is how Mesh uses this information to make its matching more personalized. Up to five of these questions can be marked at Dealbreakers.
Any potential match is required to answer that Dealbreaker question before sending you a message. If their answer matches yours, it’ll go into your inbox. If not, it could be sent to Mismatch — unless other attributes override the answer.
“People really love the Dealbreakers,” Asher said. “Just the notion of Dealbreakers — what you want is what you want — that’s very powerful. That really sells. We could literally have a whole site called Dealbreaker, and I think people would love it.”
The person won’t know what your answer is when prompted to respond. Mesh is sensitive to a user’s privacy.
An Only Mesh Knows category can keep your preferences private. If you want to select people based on religion, ethnicity, or relationship status, that’s between you and the algorithm. This way, you don’t have to broadcast your biases, but you can let Mesh know what to filter in a discreet manner.
Mesh won’t just send you curated matches; it’ll recommend an ideal first-date venue based on the interests and locations of both profiles. It pinpoints what place is mutually enjoyable and nearby so your first date goes well.
Assessing profile information is a specialty of the site. “Over time, in the aggregate, we can really get a full profile,” Asher said. “We continuously learn and pull in ideas and even date ideas with Mesh Here.”
Mesh Here suggests date ideas that both individuals will favor. It could be an Italian restaurant, a walk in the park, or a concert. As a brainstorming or planning tool, this feature is genuinely helpful when moving from flirting to dating.
“In general the whole notion is that you should never have a bad date. The big problem in online dating — especially in mobile — is that you have emptier experiences,” he said.
Mesh’s user-friendly features and open-minded approach is appealing to a diversity of people.
It wasn’t long into his venture that Yenis Sleidi crossed Asher’s path. In hearing about what Mesh Labs was building, she was immediately captivated. She wanted to be a co-founder. Her vibrant presence opened Mesh up to becoming the non-binary dating space it is today.
“As a queer woman, she brings a certain perspective that’s helpful because we’re all about being broad and open,” Asher said. “We were the first dating site to offer non-binary, queer, and transgender options as a mainstream-oriented dating site.”
Mesh welcomes all comers. About 5% of the overall user base identifies as LGBTQ or other. The demographic split is roughly 55% female and 45% male, skewing slightly more toward the ladies perhaps due to its core message of “keeping out the creeps.”
Recently, Mesh Labs has turned its attention to improving the mobile dating space. Though the current website is fully mobile-friendly, Mesh will soon release a mobile product that specifically serves on-the-go dating.
This new mobile tool seeks to counter the superficiality common in dating apps that highlight a profile picture to the detriment of more in-depth personal details.
Users in a fast-paced matching system tend to devalue profiles as time goes by. A match quickly loses its value as match after match pops up. You swipe through and by the end can’t remember what a single individual really looked like. Asher explains that mobile services are usually only satisfying within the first week, before burnout occurs.
“The longer you use these services, the more it trains you to devalue your 50-100 matches,” he said. “The more actions you take, the less value every subsequent action has. What creates value is something being scarce.”
Mesh’s endeavor is to build a clean app, ridding the mobile dating of empty interactions based on superficial judgments and forced response.
With the tagline “Fall in love with people again,” Mesh mobile isn’t a project for the faint of heart. Mesh Labs has been designing and re-designing this feature for over two years — that’s how committed Asher is to getting it exactly perfect.
Studying how people behave and how they process information, Mesh mobile will create a system that allows for getting a real sense of who a person is. “We had to think really hard,” the CEO told us about the planning phase, “We had to ask how can we come to mobile and be not just more of the same? How can we bring ‘experience better’ to mobile?”
Mesh mobile is meant to be an intuitive experience, the natural next step in online dating. The team is currently polishing, tweaking, and readying it for launch.
Looking forward to a release in the coming months, Asher feels confident in the new app. “It will be the paradigm shift in mobile dating,” he says. “It will solve the superficiality issue, solve the quality-in-choice issue, and really just improve online dating in general.”
Innovating for better engagement and higher value, Mesh Labs continuously expands its impact in the dating space for the benefit of singles.
Throughout our discussion, Asher shows great understanding of the online dating realm. He sees what’s wrong as well as how it can be made better, particularly for women tired of sifting through a barrage of random messages. Using filters and features to make dating better is the task he’s set before his team. Mesh is an ad-free, subscription-free, and creep-free service that customizes itself to its users.
“We’re Mesh Labs, and we do intend to help solve online dating and compatibility,” he said. “It’s the biggest and most human problem of our time.”
With Mismatch, Dealbreakers, Mesh Here, and a soon-to-launch mobile app, Mesh aims to give anyone who joins a pleasant, valuable dating experience, supplying not just a soulmate but a good time along the way to that happily ever after.
“It’s not for us; it’s for our users,” Asher said. “We want them to experience better.”