On first glance, it’s easy to mistake the newly-launched online dating site Blackbook 365 for one of Gilt Groupe’s rapidly multiplying fashion verticals. The site, which was founded by a fashion entrepreneur (who wants to remain anonymous . . . for now) has sections on style, beauty, food & cocktails, and even an “It List” of trendsetters and tastemakers.
But it’s raison d’être can be found under the tabs Men 365 and Women 365.
Just as Gilt Groupe delivers daily deals on a curated selection of luxury goods, Blackbook 365 will feature a daily profile of a good-looking, successful, (ostensibly charming) professional–the aspirational items of the dating world! Sorry, no flash sale on lasting love, though.
“There wasn’t a site that cut through a lot of the clutter and really presented what New York women are looking for, which is really kind of that perfect catch,” Blackbook 365 marketing director Melissa Salandra told Betabeat over the phone recently. “So we decided to curate these men and women and try to meet the high standards that many professionals do have in finding, you know, successful professionals who are also commitment-oriented.”
In the coming weeks, the company says its winter collection, as it were, will feature a few beauty and fashion editors from Conde Nast, tech executives, producers from MSNBC and MTV, “fashion insiders” from Louis Vuitton and Prada, culinary stars, and “various NYC notables from the social set.”
For potential daters, the site is asymmetrical. Anyone can sign up for free to add their profile (two photos and some basic information) to the Blackbook 365 database in order to send a “calling card” to that day’s catch. But only profiles for the featured members show up on the site. And you have to be chosen to be the featured single. “Everybody is personally met by us, everybody is referred to us, everybody is vetted by us to establish age verification–that they are what they say,” Ms. Salandra explained. “We spend a good amount of time just getting to know the people and asking what their interests are and what kind of a young lady they would be interested in.”
“We then select the best 20 matches for him based on what he told us he was looking for,” she added. “In addition to that, we put together monthly cocktail parties and dinners, we do four men and four women at really cool places, so they can get to know each other as well.”
When Betabeat wondered whether this didn’t veer a little into Millionaire Matchmaker territory, Ms. Salandra said, “There’s not an income requirement, we are looking for successful professionals, but by no means do you have to be a millionaire. You just have to be ambitious.”
So, it sounds less like a new meeting ground for lonely hearts than a chance to bid on a brand-name potential mate not typically found among the hoi polloi of Internet dating sites.
Just yesterday, Men 365 started updating daily and Blackbook is slated to launch the Women 365 section in January, the same time it opens in Chicago and Dallas. Advance singles scouts are already building up inventory. Next quarter, the startup plans to monetize with membership fees and advertising and is contemplating a few investment offers.
Betabeat recognized a familiar, tech-y face among the well-groomed, square-jawed dudes on the docket: Nick Gray, partner at Flight Display Systems. “My little sister and some of my girl roommates have OkCupid and Match.com. They tell me how many random messages they get. I like the idea that Blackbook would cut through some of that noise in on-line dating,” Mr. Gray explained by email.