Remember group dates in junior high and high school? Sure, there was awkward tension with that special someone, but you had your buds right there to diffuse the pressure. That’s the idea behind new group dating website Ignighter, only, you know… for adults. It sounded like a solid concept to investors, who helped the company close $1.2 million in angel funding yesterday.

The New York City-based startup also has the backing of TechStars. The seed investment fund — which ranks with Y Combinator and DreamIt Ventures — hopes the fledgling site will ride its innovative concept to the front of the online dating pack. But it’s a dense crowd, not only including usual suspects and Eharmony, but also Mixtt — a site that debuted at TechCrunch50 and also capitalizes on the group dynamic.

On Ignighter, you set up a profile with your group of friends instead of as an individual. You all include photos, detail your interests, your personality traits etc., and the site matches you with other groups that could be compatible. It even helps you arrange a real-life get together, during which people can meet without the anxiety and awkwardness of a one-on-one date.

As a demonstration, the company launched in August with a “Democratic Unity” group date between Obama and Clinton supporters (hosted by Obama Girl). There were no casualties, so maybe there is some merit to the idea.

Still, it’s unclear at this point whether there’ll be space in the online dating galaxy for group matching, let alone two virtually indistinguishable players. Both Ignighter and Mixtt have said they could be useful for people who just want to find other friends, clubbing partners, book clubbers and the like, but Meetup already has the traction there. If one is to survive, they should probably look into differentiating themselves, and fast.


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