Eight questions with… a dating app that actually sends you on dates

Every week we ask a local start-up to spill the beans about themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to Elliot Riley, Jess Smith and James McCann, founders of Rendezvous, a dating app that lets you avoid the awkward online pre-chat and cut straight to the chase.

ONEHow did Rendezvous start and what was your inspiration for the project?

We started Rendezvous because it sounded like people were getting sick of a lot of cheap pick up lines and not a lot of real, offline experiences with other people. We were also seriously concerned at the rising rates of repetitive strain injury in the thumbs of Tinder users.

We were inspired by the way our friends have spoken about existing dating apps. There was a lot of frustration there – particularly around the days of small talk which ultimately go nowhere. We had some early conversations about how to get people actually meeting each other and we managed to get James on board who really helped us develop those ideas into a more concrete concept.

TWO: Did you have any interest or experience in business/entrepreneurship prior to starting Rendezvous?

Not really. This is our first startup and we’re just figuring it out as we go. I think everyone at some point has an idea they’d like to have a go at but don’t go ahead with it for whatever reason. We were a bit lucky that the timing was right for us and we were able to have a go at Rendezvous without having to bet the house on it.

Rendezvous founders Elliot Riley and Jess Smith (Supplied)

THREE: Tell us about how Rendezvous works and what makes it different from other dating apps out there.

Rendezvous is a chatbot – not a regular app that you download from the app store. It lives on Facebook Messenger and you use it by chatting directly to it [click on ‘Message Us’ here to get started], just like you would chat with one of your friends on Messenger. So that’s kind of the most obvious difference.

Rendezvous also has a different purpose to most dating apps. Our mission is to help our users meet the person, not the profile. What this means in practice is that you tell the app what time and day you’re available for a meet-up and it’ll present you with a list of potential dates at that time. You send a request to another user, and if they accept, you’re all set to meet up. You’ll be able to chat with the person [for an hour] in advance of your date to sort out logistics.

FOUR: How many users do you currently have active on the app and in what cities?

We’ve got a few hundred users on Rendezvous. We’re open in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin, but most of our users are currently based in Wellington.

Rendezous in action on Facebook’s Messenger platform (Facebook)

FIVE: What’s the success rate of people using Rendezvous?

Well, I suppose how our users define “success” on a dating app is kind of up to them. We don’t think there’ve been any nuptials yet, but we’re confident it’s just a matter of time. But we’ve sent a few people out on dates and so far, the feedback has been all positive which is really encouraging. Our users appreciate the focus on people meeting people so it’s great for us to get that validation of our model.

SIX: Why did you decide to integrate Rendezvous with Facebook Messenger rather than create a separate app?

We feel like people are getting to the point of app overload. We know that, at least in the US, 51% of people download zero new apps per month and we found that apps lose 77% of users within the first three days of it being downloaded. With Rendezvous, there’s no download required and we won’t occupy space on your phone’s home page or storage.

Being on Facebook Messenger puts us within one click of over a billion people. We think a significant barrier to trying a new dating app is the app download itself, so we’ve found a way to eliminate that.

Rendezous in action on Facebook’s Messenger platform (Supplied)

SEVEN: Do you have any plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they?

Obviously, we’d love to be the next Tinder, but we’re just taking things one step at a time. James is based in Amsterdam at the moment, so maybe Europe’s next!

EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a start-up or business that you really admire right now.

We (Elliot & Jess) live next door to the founders of delivereasy, a food delivery service in Wellington. You’ve probably seen their scooters around the city. They’re a great bunch of guys who have designed a really high-quality service that’s extremely popular among Wellingtonians. They’ve quickly built a lot of loyalty among their users and that’s something we’d like to emulate.


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