…anyone who can make dating life easier I definitely want to talk to and just last week I had an at length chat with love guru and tech wonder Lori Cheek founder of Cheekd.com. Lori is revolutionizing the world of dating leveraging real life encounters and technology-in a fun and engaging way. Don't miss her Cheek'd Party-June 27th from 6-9pm at Ay Chiwowa!
Lori tell us about bit about you…where did you come from and how did you get started with Cheek'd?
Well, I'm a Kentucky Graduate of Architecture and of course I threw up my hat and decided to move straight to New York City the day I graduated-there was no looking back for me. So for 18 years I practiced Architecture and Design and 5 years ago I was out to dinner with another Architect and he had scribbled on the back of his business card…"want to have dinner?" and as we were leaving the restaurant he slid the card to a woman.
I remember thinking, I loved the non-intrusive and intriguing gesture of this mysterious man saying I want to see you again via his business card-but minus the personal information on it. Because when handing someone your business card, it has your first and last name-which can be too much information to hand over to a total stranger. It's also like handing over your Linkedin resume to someone you want to date. It's kind of a douchey move to hand over your business card to someone you're interested in.
So I wanted to try and create this introduction for dating without the business. For a year it took me brainstorming about how to remove that personal information-and then it became about this code that links to your privacy protected online dating profile. It's kind of like the cocktail napkin without the napkin, phone number and the lipstick.
What makes it unique and how does it work?
Typically, a Cheek'd user would subscribe to up to 50 cards which all have these funny icebreaking pick up lines on them. There's even one that says "I'm totally cooler than your date".
So if I saw you at the bar, and your were with your sister or a friend or who knows who the woman is, you can slip you this card that says I like you and want to see you again without interrupting whatever is going on at that moment.
Users give this intro card that has this code to use at Cheekd.com and when you enter that code-that's where you find the givers profile. Then you can chat on the Cheekd platform without giving any personal information and it be privacy protected until you're ready to take it offline. Even at that point you still don't have to give up any personal information to meet in person-where then you can determine how much personal information you want to share at that point.
The online chat is very much how'd you do it on Facebook-without knowing who they are really. Each user profile comes with your picture and several playful questions to get the conversation started-without them talking about your salary, height, weight or anything. On most occasions you've already seen each other and hope there is that initial chemistry. Which for me is the beauty of this thing…the initial real life encounter unlike traditional online dating where you really don't know what's behind that picture you see on the profile or if any of that stuff is true.
With this service you know exactly who's going to show up when you decide to go meet with this person.
Do you know if you have more male or females using Cheek'd?
Based on the information that my numbers have given the users break down 48% male-52% female. The other nice thing is that it's all over the world. When I first launched this business I thought it would be great for New York City-but 3 years later I have customers in 47 states in America and 28 countries internationally.
What has been this biggest challenge starting this endeavor and what if anything has come to you much easier than you thought?
You know I was an Architect and quit my career to develop this website and I thought initially I'd build the site and become a billionaire in a matter of days. I thought this would be the answer to peoples dating woes. And in actuality, I would say nothing has been easy. In fact-things have been more difficult than I ever would have dreamt.
However, soon after I launched this business I was featured in the New York Times and headlined "Move over Match.com this is the next generation of online dating". Three days later after that published-I got a call from Chicago's own Oprah Winfrey Network and they wanted a deck of cards and an interview with me. The day that call came-I called home crying just so excited I had received a call from Oprah's producer. The fact that this little idea brought that call was just amazing to me.
In the beginning I think everybody thought I was crazy for quitting my job. And now that they've seen what's happened with it-they see it's really incredible. You know I was just covered in the equivalent of the Financial Times in Norway and I've been getting card orders from Norway for the past three weeks.
To me it just translates to single people missing opportunities all over the world. And handing someone that card is a risk free thing-it leaves it to the recipient to find you again. I even have a card that says "My fate is in your hands" and that's exactly what happens. You don't have to stick around and wait for that person to say…I'm married, gay or just not interested. You've left the card and the work is done.
How has it helped your love life?
The irony is when I started making these cards up-right after I launched-I was doing it for marketing purposes-just trying to get everyone in the world these cards. Especially when I was traveling at the airports, I thought these cards would be going other places if I was handing them out there. But finally last year, there was this guy sitting right in front of me and I didn't have a signal on my phone-so I put my phone down and gave him a card that says "Let's meet for a drink" and now we're engaged to be married in the Fall.
So I know it works!
Can you talk about the event you're planning here in Chicago?
Yeah, the Cheek'd Party is set to take place during Tech Week where I'm going to be one of 70 businesses participating in Start Up City and it's a contest-where 5 of those get selected to pitch their business to a tech shark tank-with the winner awarded $100,000 to help build their business.
The party will take place June 27th from 6-9pm at Ay Chiwowa. There I will get lots of single people together to come drink half-priced drinks for 3 hours. We will also be giving out sample cards for guests to activate to pass out to the object of their desire.
Where would you like all this to go if you could write the script of the Cheek'd evolution?
I'd love my tool to become the norm for the world of dating online line-leveraging real life encounters with technology. Taking it back to old school where you're actually saying hello to someone first-then engaging online-minus the intrusion and personal information.
I'm down...let's get Cheek'd!