More and more of our digital dating world keeps coming up with new terms for bad dating behavior. Thought it was just happening to millennials? Think again. My Happiness Hypothesis study found that it is happening across the globe to both men and women for millennials and GenX. It is creating the paradox effect in dating: it’s giving off the illusion of many choices while making it harder to find viable options. Is technology driving dating, sex and emotion? Are dating patterns just an extension of how we behave on social networks? I had a chance to explore some of this phenomena with superstar serial entrepreneur, CEO, and Co-creator of LOKO, the first all video dating app!
Your career is so fascinating and inspiring. Tell us about your career trajectory?
I’m a CPA by education and trade. Early in my career, I was able to move into the venture capital and private equity world and spent the first 15 years or so working traditional jobs in the business world. A chance meeting with a friend led a group of us to buy a football team in Las Vegas. This led to what has now turned into the Fan-Controlled Football League, the first fully fan-controlled professional sports league. As they say, from then on the “rest is history” as I caught the entrepreneurial bug. About a year ago, I started on my second technology start-up called LOKO, the first video-only dating app.
How did you get started in the relationship + tech industry? What got you interested in the industry?
I have been working in technology in some form for the past 10 years, but how I entered the relationship space is an interesting personal story, It all began with a comment my daughter made during a movie night: “Daddy, you always take care of me and my sister, but who takes care of you? You should get a girlfriend.”
Being a single dad was never a big deal for me, but this hit hard. It made me realize that I needed to make finding a significant other more of a priority in my life. I’ve always been skeptical of dating apps, and up until my daughter’s comment, I’d been trying the old-fashioned way. But with my busy schedule as an entrepreneur and being a parent of two girls, it became evident that I wasn’t going to meet someone out in the “real world.” So I fired up the popular dating apps, and it’s safe to say I was underwhelmed. I went through online dating’s vicious cycles: I went into the process optimistic, gave it my full effort, became dejected, and then shut down the apps altogether to focus on family and career.
One evening I went over to my friend Norm’s house — the comedian Norm MacDonald — to vent about my recent first dates that went nowhere. Norm wanted to get to the bottom of the problem. The headaches were obvious: endless swiping, text conversations that go nowhere, matches who are nothing like their profiles suggest. This all leads to the biggest problem, Norm and I realized: first dates. They rarely go well. They seemed like an inefficient use of time, when free time was so precious, to begin with. We wondered how we could we make an app that would lead to more meaningful dates. We talked well into the night and in the end, LOKO was born.
That’s amazing that you and Norm MacDonald nailed it to the first date problem! What else can we expect to see coming out of both of you?
Over the next few months, all of our immediate projects revolve around our greatest general initiative, building awareness. We have several very influential people and celebrities interested in LOKO and are working with them to develop engaging collaborations. We’ve also been working with an incredibly talented team of writers and filmmakers producing funny and informative content about LOKO and the state of dating today. Norm is overseeing this so you can expect some laugh out loud humor! We are almost ready for filming and anticipate we will be ready to release to the public by mid first quarter.
How do you create work-life balance?
That is easy! Find work that you love and are passionate about; then it doesn’t seem like work because you’ve built a life that you don’t need a vacation from.
Can you share some tips on how to cultivate it in our own lives?
The first step is, to be honest with yourself about what you are truly passionate about. There is a big difference between glamorizing a job because of the endgame versus feeling warm and fuzzy working on the journey towards success. Once you’ve found the later, figure out how to make a living doing that. It may mean doing it as a side hustle for a while, but eventually, that can lead into being your full-time work.
What in your opinion is the future of dating?
The future of dating will continue to be based on the use of technology as a means to meet people. Having said that many of today’s apps can make users feel alone, isolated, and de-humanized. Studies have shown this to be true. Because the human element has been removed technology that was meant to bring people together has, in fact, pushed them farther apart. The future will be based on bridging the use of technology with the charm of old-fashioned dating in order to facilitate meaningful in-person interactions.
What advice would you offer to those interested in getting in the industry?
The dating industry has no shortage of options, but I think in general dating apps are spin-offs of a similar concept. Having said that, the numerous options are not a barrier to entry as there will always be a market for innovative ways to help people find love. I think to be successful, you have to think outside the box and try something that hasn’t been done before and try to capture a niche market first. And if that finds success, then try to gain traction in the broader market.
What would you tell your younger self?
Without a doubt, it’s believing that anything is possible. I’ll steal a quote from Jim Carey that I think sums it up perfectly, “So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to ask the universe for it… but you can ask the universe for it, for the impossible”