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[Herald Interview] Match made in algorithm

Dating service developers claim to have cracked the code for online match-ups for college students

By Park Soong-joo

Published : March 14, 2023 - 13:54

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(From left) Co-founders Kim Soo-yeon, Park Ye-chan, Suh Ki-seok, and Baek Seon-gi of Yeonpick. (Yeonpick) (From left) Co-founders Kim Soo-yeon, Park Ye-chan, Suh Ki-seok, and Baek Seon-gi of Yeonpick. (Yeonpick)

Finding a romantic partner is a task many struggle with, but a group of university students is looking to make the task easier with an algorithm designed to connect people.

Two years ago, four Yonsei University undergraduates created Yeonpick, an online matchmaking service catering mainly to college students. One big difference for Yeonpick is that its design largely eliminates looks from the equation.

Its algorithm matches the users based on their values, interests, and what they look for in their partner, rather than letting users endlessly swipe to choose who to date based on profile pictures. This is to ensure that the platform provides opportunities for meaningful meet-ups.

“There are more users that are looking for serious relationships than those looking for a fling or a hookup,” says Park Ye-chan, one of the four co-founders.

Yeonpick’s approach appears to have struck a chord with its users, enabling the project to go on for longer than its creators’ expected.

“When we started, we anticipated it would be a one-year project, at best,” recalls Suh Ki-seok, one of the four co-founders of the matchmaking platform Yeonpick. Since its launch, the platform has exceeded the creators’ expectations, garnering over 19,000 subscribers so far.

A captured image of the Yeonpick survey. (Yeonpick) A captured image of the Yeonpick survey. (Yeonpick)

Users take a survey upon signing up, providing information that would help them be matched up. The questions have been updated to reflect recent trends among the younger generation.

While users submit some information about themselves, no photo is required.

“Since users are not obligated to share their pictures until they go on a date, their date’s looks may not be their type. Yet, since they have been matched based on their interests and values, our clients tell us in the reviews that they spent good quality time on a date,” said Park.

Matchmaking based on a variety of personal values, rather than just looks, is a strong selling point for Yeonpick, the developers said.

“Having no profile pictures is also a selling point for female users,” Baek Seon-gi, one of the co-founders, explains. “When we ran over A/B tests, we found that female users preferred having no profile photos, so we made a call to tailor to their needs.”

To make it more appealing to college students, Yeonpick has incorporated a verification system to fortify safety. Users can choose to submit a picture of their student ID cards, which increases the likelihood of getting matched.

Anyone can register to use Yeonpick, but the service is specialized for college students, and this is not likely to change in near future, says Park. “We want to provide services to those who are of our age because we are able to understand and sympathize with their needs,” says Park.