Truffle's YC Application

What is your company going to make? 

Truffle is a mobile dating web app that is geared towards providing a beautiful dating experience to a working professional. Every 3 days, I open on my browser and get 3 matches from a designer at Zulily to a Sales Manager at Amazon. I invite the designer at Zulily for a coffee and that's it. I have a date.

There is no online messaging. Trust among the Truffle users is established by only allowing people in your same class i.e having similar educational and work background. You either sign up via linkedIn or you need to have an access code given by us.

For each founder, please list: YC username; name; age; year of graduation, school, degree and subject for each degree; email address; personal url, github url, facebook id, twitter id; employer and title (if any) at last job before this startup. Put unfinished degrees in parens. List the main contact first. Separate founders with blank lines. Put an asterisk before the name of anyone not able to move to the Bay Area.

pacifi30; Nishant Singh; 29; 2009; Arizona State University; Masters of Science in Computer Science;;;; nishant.singh; @nsingh28; SDE at Amazon.

sunshineo; Gordon Sun; 30; 2008; University Of Toronto; Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science;; n/a;; gordon.sun.14; @sunshineo; SDE at Amazon.

agathayu; Agatha Yu; 21; 2013, University of Sydney, (Double Degree in Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) and Law);;, n/a, im.agatha, @yuagatha; Designer at Palantir.

chenyuwang1988; Chenyu Wang; 25; 2012 June, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Master of Science;; n/a;;; n/a;  SDE at Amazon

Please tell us in one or two sentences about the most impressive thing other than this startup that each founder has built or achieved

Nishant: Until the age of 23, I had a bad stammer. The combination of moving to a new country, getting scholarship at ASU, dressing well, and working harder to achieve my goals, gave me the confidence I lacked. Consequently, with my effort and luck, now I give speeches at Amazon. To help others overcome this problem, I also run the Seattle Stuttering group.

Gordon : I was a regional champion of Physics Olympiad Competition in junior high. While at IMDB, I built new ranking system where I reduced the rank generation time from 10 hours to 1 hour using Hadoop and Amazon Elastic Map Reduce.

Chenyu : I was a fat little boy and failed all the sports exams. The summer before high school I decided to learn breakdance, I exercised night and day. Within 3 months, I won the school's dance competition and started my own dancing club. I also became the president of the Art and Performance department at the student union.

Agatha: I was among the 0.1 percentile of the high school graduating class in Australia, and was awarded a full scholarship for law school. I also designed the sales tool interaction for Australia's national telecommunication company, yes I had to go through a lot of approvals for my design.

Please tell us about the time you, pacifi30, most successfully hacked some (non-computer) system to your advantage

I wanted to advertise Truffle on LinkedIn, but the ad got rejected on the grounds that LinkedIn doesn't advertise dating sites. I tweeted Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, about the rejection, and the next morning the ad was approved.  

Please tell us about an interesting project, preferably outside of class or work, that two or more of you created together. Include urls if possible

Gordon and I(Nishant) created Suppermate, a mobile app for dining with your friends of friends. We organized 98 dinners in Seattle over the period of 2 months.  

How long have the founders known one another and how did you meet? Have any of the founders not met in person?

I(Nishant) met Gordon through a mutual friend in 2010 and since then we have been coding on side projects. Gordon created the necessary infrastructure enabling us to easily integrate new features.

I(Nishant) met Agatha at YC School reception in Oct 2012. She got so excited by the idea of an exclusive dating app for people like her that she designed the landing page for Truffle next morning. From the first design to bringing in the women perspective in Truffle, Agatha has become one of the pillars of Truffle.    

Gordon and Chenyu have worked together at Amazon since 2012. Gordon introduced me to Chenyu in Jan 13. Ever since Chenyu has not only been an intensely driven dev for us, he also comes up with creative marketing channels like distributing Truffle access cards through food trucks.

Why did you pick this idea to work on? Do you have domain expertise in this area? How do you know people need what you're making?

Love excites me! It excites me to see two people holding hands and walking down the Broadway Ave. I want to spread love, so I built Truffle, and opened it for all the working professionals ready to fall in love.

I moved to Seattle in 2010 and I found it difficult to meet girls. I tried okCupid, and often I would end up sending tens of messages before getting a response. Even after connecting online, it was still a challenge to meet in person because conversations would just die.

I spend hours surfing online dating websites, tried things like including work/education info in my dating profiles and send straight forward coffee request messages to girls. Eventually, I was able to meet 30 girls from okCupid, eharmony over the period of 3 years but only ended up dating 2 of them primarily because one of my criteria was to date someone who had a similar education and work background to my own.

The idea of Truffle came to mind when most of the girls I met liked the straight forward meeting at cafe approach I took and insisted that they agreed to meet me because I worked at a good company and looked presentable.    

We talked to over 150 people who have used or are using eHarmony and Over 60% girls responded that they don't trust the men and have fear of getting stalked. Whereas an overwhelming 77% of the guys complained about the delay in getting an in person date. 43% of the people feel that they are paying $53 a month just to look at the image catalogue because rate of landing a date is low. 20% out of 280 users on Truffle are from okCupid, eHarmony and

Working at Amazon also gave us an opportunity to talk to other amazonians and out of 200 singles in the age group of 23 - 29 we talked to, 80% of people will like to go on a coffee date with someone they have seen at the amazon campus.

We have organized 63 dates since we launched so people are liking it.

What's new about what you're making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn't exist yet (or they don't know about it)

We offer four novel things

1. Exclusive user base of working professionals.

2. Per date pricing.

3. No messaging online to encourage users to communicate in person.

4. A new experience. Instead of a message about "How you doing", you get an invitation for a coffee date.

Currently, 33% of people using traditional online dating loose hope and close their account. People tend to have the following pattern in the use of existing dating services.

1. People tends to start with eharmony and but no face to face dates lead them to the location based apps.

2. Location based apps like Tinder are quick but are more of a fun game then finding someone you may want to develop a relationship with. After a couple of matches with 18 somethings, our target audience drop off.

3. Lastly, people resort back to look around for potential partners in their friend circle that is first of all small and second doesn't give them the opportunity to meet new people.

Who are your competitors, and who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?

There is a tiered hierarchy of dating apps

1. and eHarmony : These services provide a poor quality of dating experience that usually make people quit or inactive on these platforms. Over that, the high subscription cost with no results make it even harder to trust these platforms.

2. okCupid : Users have range of options and a free communication online platform. However, the conversations online don't lead to anything meaningful.

3. Tinder:  This is more of a fun way to gauge your hotness meter. People like each other but only few take it to next level and go on a date. Tinder is tailored towards to teenagers and college students.

Companies like Vice and the subreddit like r/singles can become competitors since people on these communities have similar interests and tastes. Grouper shares our DNA as they facilitate offline meetup. One day if they decide to start organizing one on one dates, they will be a threat to us.

What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don't get?

80% of what happens on a dating site is ineffective. No filter on the quality of the people as well as the online messaging creates too much noise.

I don’t need to know which movies you like or what food you eat when I want to meet you the first time. If you are good looking and we are in the same class, everything after that needs to happen face to face. The decade old model of writing about yourself in 1500 words and answering 100 questions to test the compatibility does not guarantee a meet up or a relationship. Instead focussing on meeting first and then asking questions to each other have a higher chance of successful companionship.  

Moreover, the primary purpose of online dating is to meet someone in person who is not in your social circle but “can” be a part of your circle. And the way you extend your social circle is when you get an invitation to a house party from your co-worker and not by answering questions about if I currently like dogs or cats.

At Truffle, we are opening this window of opportunity to date the person you have seen in the elevator during lunch hours. On other dating websites, you get a “how you doing” email message but on Truffle you get an invitation for a real date at a cafe at a particular day/time.

How do or will you make money? How much could you make? (We realize you can't know precisely, but give your best estimate.)

#Singles/2 * #dates per month per user * cost per date

[Usually men ask out, hence /2]

According to harmony numbers, out of 20 million singles, 14 million users earn 50k and above. and okCupid have a total of 29 million singles out of which 10 million are working professionals and earn above 50k.

Total user base for Truffle in US = 24 million

Average number of dates per month = 10

Cost per date = $10

Net singles market = 24/2*10*10 = $1.2 billion

We will also provide boutique packages for the "couples" who want to take their relationship to the next level.

#Couples/2 * #packages per month * commission on each package

Number of successful date packages per month per person= 5

Average Commission per package = 20%

Average value of the package = $100

Net couples market = 24/2*5*20 = $1.2 billion

Total addressable market = $2.4 billion

If you've already started working on it, how long have you been working and how many lines of code (if applicable) have you written?

We started working on Truffle in September 2012. We wasted 2 months of our time by building a phone gap application that had latency issues so in Nov 2012, we started building Truffle website and as of now have written 90k lines of python, html and jquery code. We have deployed our code 548 times on the development and 152 times on the production server.

How far along are you? Do you have a beta yet? If not, when will you? Are you launched? If so, how many users do you have? Do you have revenue? If so, how much? If you're launched, what is your monthly growth rate (in users or revenue or both)?

We launched Truffle in May 2013 for Seattle and have 280 users based in Seattle and 100 users outside of Seattle. We have organized 63 dates with the gross revenue of $190 (we gave away most of the first dates free to our first adopters)

Our user growth is 25% in each of the last 3 months.

If you have an online demo, what's the url? (Please don't password protect it; just use an obscure url.)

We have video that shows Truffle user experience

Also this is the URL for our demo App (It might take some time to load the app since its running on free heroku instance that remains idle if there is no activity )

Things to try:

* Sign up via LinkedIn and select your city as Seattle

* Click on one of the matches and ask them out

* Credit card details are already provided

* Choose a date and place. You have sent a date invitation

* I ll accept the date and we can have a coffee in Seattle :)

How will you get users? If your idea is the type that faces a chicken-and-egg problem in the sense that it won't be attractive to users till it has a lot of users (e.g. a marketplace, a dating site, an ad network), how will you overcome that?

We know our user base is concentrated in hubs like South lake union in Seattle to Soma in SF. We used guerrilla marketing and hired taskrabbiters to give priority access cards to our target users located in SLU in Seattle. Average cost of acquisition is around $2 per user.

We also run promotions with the businesses near these hubs. Food trucks are our primary distribution channel at this moment since they visit the dense neighborhoods during lunch hours. Average cost of acquisition is $5.

Our recent targeted advertising on Facebook gave us an acquisition cost of $10 per user.

Also from the start we have advertised Truffle on our okCupid and profiles. So far we have successfully converted 57 "other" dating service users into Trufflers.

If you had any other ideas you considered applying with, please list them. One may be something we've been waiting for. Often when we fund people it's to do something they list here and not in the main application

Batch Dinner Delivery : Finding quick and cheap dinner is a challenge for single people. I don’t have time either to cook or sit at a restaurant every day or do an expensive delivery. I would love a service that everyday at 2PM messages me the one dish they can deliver at 7PM for $10 at my neighborhood. By making a huge batch of orders for a single dish and delivering at once to a neighborhood, it is possible to reduce the cost of delivery. Other benefits includes better inventory planning for restaurants because of the order ahead capability as well as making the location of the restaurant irrelevant since any restaurant will be able to deliver it's food in bulk to a far off neighborhood.

Calmix : An Outlook like scheduling assistant that gives the invitor a preview to invitee's availability even when they have different exchange email servers or different calendar clients or the invitor doesn't even have a calendar. We want to use this service for giving matches on Truffle based on the availability and location.

Octave: A mobile app that teaches singing with a set of minigames. Grow as a singer while pursuing achievements in those games, and connect and share with other singers.

Please tell us something surprising or amusing that one of you has discovered. (The answer need not be related to your project.)

I have discovered an elegant way of cutting an avocado.