March 6, 2020

The Matchmaking (Not Dating!) App: Meet Emily Smith, Founder of Chorus

By Emily Merrell

I’ve always wanted to do the swiping for my friends on apps. It’s much more fun thinking of potential reasons why my best friend needs to meet this guy versus doing the swiping for yourself. Enter Chorus, an app that lets you make matches for your friends. Learn more below on why this app is changing the dating landscape. 

SDS: With what feels like half the world on dating apps, what inspired you to tackle the dating app space? 

Founder of Chorus, Emily Smith. Courtesy of Chorus.

EMILY J. SMITH: Well, that’s kind of the thing. Every year, more and more people are using dating apps and every year, the apps are getting worse. The more they become the default, the more it becomes like a game on your phone – not real interactions with real people. That’s where “ghosting” proliferates. The introduction of “swiping” from Tinder really created this binary mindset that flattens people. Now all the other apps follow the same model because that gamified mindset is actually pretty addicting. But no one is really innovating on that basic premise, mostly because they are all owned by the same giant (Match Group). Whether we like it or not, dating apps aren’t going away. But something fundamental needs to change. 

As online dating became more popular and notoriously awful, I noticed that my friends in relationships were very eager to support me but had no real way to do that. They would swipe for me on my phone when we were together but beyond that it was hard for them to relate to the world of online dating that was more or less my whole romantic life. With Chorus we’re really trying to give people in relationships a safe way to support their single friends in modern dating. Since you always swipe for others on Chorus, it’s not a dating app in the traditional sense. As a “Matchmaker” you’re never messaging with strangers, just your friends. So it’s built for friends who want to support each other.

SDS: How does Chorus differ from other apps? 

EJS: We like to call ourselves a matchmaking app, not a dating app. You always swipe for others on Chorus, never yourself. Anyone can join as either a Matchmaker or a Dater (eventually both, but pick one for now). Once you join, you have to invite at least one person to be in there with you. Daters need a Matchmaker and vice versa. Daters create their dating profile and Matchmakers can see it and give feedback. Matchmakers do the swiping and when they find a match, Daters message each other and keep their Matchmakers informed of how it’s progressing. 

There’s something really nice about not online dating alone and having friends in there with you. So many apps these days are passive ways to connect, like browsing someone’s Instagram. This is a sincerely active way to not only connect with,but also support your friends in their lives. 

SDS: Why is community important in the world of dating? 

EJS: Community is everything to me when it comes to most things. My friends are my family and I couldn’t date, or do anything really, without them. I think in dating it’s especially important because it’s such a vulnerable thing. You get excited, disappointed, self-conscious, elated, heartbroken—these are all really intense feelings and you need people to share them with. 

It’s bizarre and awful to me how isolating online dating has become. When we all met through friends there was an inherent socialness to it, you could talk to your friends about the people you were involved with. This not only made it more fun but there was an essential element of accountability there. You treated each other like people, because everyone was at least a few degrees of connections apart. I think the community element allows us to see each other as real humans, not icons, in a way that’s essential to building true connection.

SDS: What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered when explaining dating apps with your friends in relationships? 

Match made via Chorus. Courtesy of Chorus.

EJS: I think it’s really hard to convey how tiring it is. A lot of people say things like “You just have to put yourself out there” or the opposite of “It’ll come when you stop trying.” These are nice phrases, but the reality isn’t very easy. Putting yourself out there in today’s dating world means sifting through dozens of faces, enduring a handful of unanswered messages and meeting strangers in an almost interview-like setting. It’s really tiring. And it certainly doesn’t come when you stop trying, or at least it isn’t guaranteed to. When I stop trying I’m just on my couch writing all day or hanging out with my married friends and their kids. I’m not really meeting anyone in that setting. 

But specifically, the mechanics of the apps are easy. My friends in relationships on Chorus get it right away, they actually love swiping because although they care about me deeply, they’re a step removed. It’s a little less personal and consequential to them. And that’s great for me because I could use the break.

SDS: How can we be better advocates for our friends on dating apps? 

EJS: That’s a great question and there’s no easy answer – which is essentially why I founded Chorus. There was no great way to support or advocate for your friends on dating apps. One thing we’re working on right now is the ability for Matchmakers to post “testimonials” on their Dater’s profiles (with approval, of course). It’s really hard to write about yourself in these dating profiles. I think women especially have a hard time allowing themselves to be self-promotional. But your friends have tons of great things to say! In the meantime we have a feature where Matchmakers can see and give feedback on Dater profiles, which our users have said is hugely helpful. 

Keeping your friends in the know with Chorus. Courtesy of Chorus.

Outside of the app, though, I think it’s important for friends to listen to these online dating stories in a serious way. It may seem silly and inconsequential to hear someone recount a text thread with a stranger, but this is what dating is now – so it helps when friends really show they care. 

SDS: Chorus launched in December, what’s next for the app? 

EJS: Right now we’re all about growing and getting the word out! We find when people hear about Chorus, they really get it, but we’re a small team so we have to rely heavily on organic growth and word of mouth. We have an online magazine where we publish regular essays from our users about dating, relationships and friendship. We’re also hosting lots of offline events for both Matchmakers and Daters to complement our goal of strengthening relationships in all forms. People have been really excited about the offline and content components of Chorus.

Our users are so incredibly enthusiastic and supportive. The more people we can get on Chorus, the more great matches we can facilitate. Most of all, though, we’re constantly figuring out ways to improve on the app. There’s a long list of features in the pipeline to develop, around making dating more interactive and community-driven, so lots more to come!

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