How meme-based dating app Schmooze is becoming the go-to-destination for Gen Zs this Valentine’s Day
Launched last year in India, meme-based dating app Schmooze is gaining popularity among Gen Zs. Over the last five months, Schmoozers have swiped 100 million+ memes, laughing their way to love.
The human psyche is a very interesting thing to observe, and every new-age consumer product is built by understanding how this psyche is shaping up from generation to generation. Observing this pattern with a keen eye was Vidya Madhavan, who wanted to build the next big thing with Schmooze.
“All my friends and juniors at Stanford would keep going on dates, but rarely did any of those first dates convert to anything deeper. While they swiped right on people based on how they looked, they gravely missed the ‘vibe match’ and often had to call their friends to ‘rescue’ them from their terrible dates,” Madhavan says.
She had connected with her now husband over a long trail of 150+ emails—exchanged within 24 hrs—most of them containing memes and jokes about each other that made them go “That’s so us” (or “us bro”—like the Gen Z’s say).
Their relationship blossomed rooted in this fun way of looking at the world. Madhavan applied the same philosophy to improve the failed dating experiences of people around her, and Schmooze was born.
She teamed up with Abhinav Anurag, her junior from BITS Pilani—part of the Google Summer of Code and many student startups at BITS, and launched Schmooze for students at Stanford.
Within days,became viral, with students from other colleges onboarding. Within no time, it had 20,000 users in the US without any marketing spend. It also caught the eye of The Last Show host Stephen Colbert and was featured on the show.
As the “Schmooze” or “Snooze” concept started garnering popularity on TikTok and in the US, the company began receiving emails from Indians urging it to launch the app in India.
While most of them appreciated the idea, some of them said they would consider launching the copycat version of the app, if Madhavan’s team didn’t launch it in India soon.
This got Madhavan and Anurag thinking, and they interviewed over 300 people in different colleges and on the streets of Bengaluru pretending to be college students who have made Schmooze as part of their design assignment to truly understand the scope.
Buoyed by the response, Schmooze was launched in India on September 1, 2023. Since its launch, the company says it has grown faster than Bumble did during its India launch—and happened at a fraction of the cost.
Despite Schmooze not having ambassadors, in the last five months, Schmoozers have swiped 100 million+ memes, laughing their way to love.
“While Schmooze has been growing organically in many Indian colleges, and we are working hard to ensure we can expand beyond our initial six launch cities, what is more satisfying is the female users on Schmooze,” says Madhavan.
She added that the company has managed to get 3X the female users than all the mainstream dating apps operating in India.
Tanisha, a user, had seen a video on Schmooze on Instagram and immediately fell in love with the concept. She was fed up with endless swiping on dating apps and decided to give it a shot.
She says, “Schmooze has matched me with many interesting people, and there is someone I’ve been talking to for the last two months. He is almost like a male version of me. Let’s see where this goes!”
“Once I went on some fun dates, I recommended Schmooze to my girlfriends, and now my entire group is on it. Sometimes, we are just sending each other memes on the app,” Tanisha says as she laughs.
Most dating apps are about a profile and a picture, and one is just looking at the appearances and saying yes or no. As a result, when they get to the chat stage, they may fall short of topics beyond “Hi, wassup?”
However, Schmooze’s AI takes care of the ice-breaker and helps them spark a conversation by telling them why it thinks they are compatible—“You both have great drunk stories to share”, “both morning people'' or “have annoying relatives”. It predicts these characteristics powered by the 100 million+ meme swipes users have already done on the app.
Some Schmoozers dating for the last four months say that the app’s compatibility section quickly finds common ground, which helps them focus on deeper things about each other on the actual date and build on it.
Madhavan claims so far, 10,000 individuals have gone on Schmooze dates. “While we don’t have a way of figuring out if two people have actually met, there are some kind users who reach out to us and share their stories. And, we are just extrapolating that.”
Besides the Schmooze app, its in-house cupid and social media manager sets people up offline. Schmooze has a series of “street set-ups”, inspired by its own viral series in New York.
The company’s social media manager, Nilaxi, goes on the streets and tries to set people up for a fun date, sponsored by Schmooze. The concept has also had many comic spin-offs.
Schmooze’s India-focused handles have grown to have 65,000 subscribers on YouTube and 71,000 followers on Instagram in less than 100 days.
Edited by Suman Singh