ourlikes-logo.pngDating sites like Match.com and eHarmony have been around for years, but competitors are still launching.

These startups generally claim the old dating site model is broken. What’s needed, they say, are more immediate connections to a variety of people you might actually like. They criticize personality tests required by older dating sites.

Yesterday, one, WooMe, launched. Like competitor Speeddate.com, it lets you do brief video chats with other users.

San Francisco-based Ourlikes, launching today, takes a more gentle approach than video for pairing people.

Its a mostly-free service that lets you select random images — movies, books, people from popular culture — then find other users interested in the same things.

The concept is a twist on Hot or Not. It’s about things you have in common with people, not a direct vote on their attractiveness — more gentle, and most likely more boring to some.

ourlikes-image.jpgYou’re first presented with an image on the site’s homepage (full screenshot below). Without logging in, you’re asked to choose how you feel about an image, with options like “can’t stand,” “not a fan,” “no opinion,” “like” and “love.” Once you vote on an image, the site finds and displays the pictures of other users with similar preferences; female users on the left and male users on the right. After you vote a few rounds of voting, you’re asked to log in.

The more you vote, the more precisely it matches you with other users who have favored and disfavored the same images. Then, you can click on these users profiles to see the entire set of images you both like as well as other information about them.

You can also add your own images to the mix — especially useful for photographers looking for groupies?

The business model, like other dating services, is paying for the ability to message people. In this case, you pay $3 to talk to one person one time — a trap for getting you to pay $6 to message as many people as you want, as many times as you want per month.

One advantage is referencing common interests in the images, such as a Harry Potter movie poster, the site also suggests things you might like to do with another user — like see a Harry Potter movie with them.

A concern is that people can be falsely paired based on the multiple meanings people can draw from a single image. For example, if the site displays picture of a Yankees player, one might not like the Yankees while still liking baseball. This could lead to horrific pairings of Red Sox and Yankees fans.

The site tries to get around such confusion by making it extremely easy to keep voting on more pictures, hoping to establish a large enough body of favored images for each user that it can get a bigger picture of what you like and don’t like.

The biggest challenge for the company will be to get enough users so that each image selection finds new and interesting prospective dates.

The six-person company is founded and self-funded by Abdul Khan, a former associate at Crosslink Capital.


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