Valentine’s Day: Three new businesses that aim to help relationships last


(Courtesy of Kahnoodle.)
February 14, 2012

As couples everywhere embark on a day of socially mandated romance, it’s worth noting that love doesn’t have a great track record: More than half of all marriages end in divorce.

“When people come together out of romantic love alone, that tends to fade,” said Candy Tolentino, a Los Angeles entrepreneur, explaining her rationale for creating a dating site solely for the marriage-minded. “If people came together out of their intent, it might work out better.”

Sure, there are services that will help their users meet people to date, whether they wish to talk about books , watch Star Trek or just be extremely tall together.

But after that initial bond is formed, what about keeping the spark alive years into the relationship, or even making sure your significant other wants to marry you some day? Here are three new businesses that aim to change the way we look at committed relationships, with the Internet standing in for Cupid.

MarryMeAlready.com

Tolentino met her husband, Josh Black, through friends, and during their courtship they realized they were on all the same dating sites but had never crossed paths. Both had been looking for a serious relationship that might end in marriage, but there was no way to screen for that type of person on the sites.

“Normally, in an online dating experience, you spend a lot of time sifting through candidates based on how they look, how well they match up to you, and at the very end, you don’t know how serious they are about a relationship,” Black said. “But if you’re really in the mood for a certain type of food, don’t go to a buffet.”

In December, the duo launched MarryMeAlready, a dating site that’s only for people who want to get married. They’re so serious about their matrimonial mission that Tolentino has personally screened each of the 1,800 profiles (and counting) to weed out pranksters and playboys.

The site is free for the next year, after which it will cost a $10 to $15 monthly fee.

“A small price to pay for love,” Black said.

The gender mix on the site is roughly even, but it does skew a few percentage points female, Tolentino said.

Kahnoodle

Kahnoodle is a site that functions like a pedometer for relationships.

“We focus on building intimacy with couples,” said founder Zuhairah Scott Washington. “We allow customers to understand what’s most important in the relationship and reward them to do that as often as possible for the significant other.”

When a couple signs up, both people rate what’s most important to them in the relationship, ranging from spontaneity to gifts to sex.

For Scott Washington, whose husband travels on long business trips, it was quality time. When he took her on a long walk near the waterfront, she used the site to give him digital “kudos,” which unlock “badges” over time. Although the rewards are all virtual — and emotional — for now, Scott Washington aims to roll out gift certificates or discounts over time.

The site is in private beta and the app will be available with a few months, Scott Washington said, but those who sign up now will get priority access.

“People think of technology as a barrier to great relationships,” she said. “But my vision is allowing technology to be a bridge.”

BeCouply

For those who are tired of the same-old dinner and a movie, BeCouply offers the option of monthly, all-inclusive surprise dates.

Couples pay a $199 monthly subscription fee in order to be picked up in a private car and whisked away on an “adventure”-type date. Recently, the company took couples on a food tour of San Francisco’s Mission district, complete with behind-the-scenes looks into six restaurants.

“This is for folks who have been in a relationship for a while and want to add more spice to their relationship,” said co-founder Becky Cruze. “Busy professionals often don’t have a lot of time to come up with ideas and make reservations, and this makes date night much more exciting.”

The service is currently only in San Francisco, but it has plans to expand nationally this year. The company also plans to release a smart phone app that will allow couples to find other couple-friends and date ideas nearby.

The romantic touch? Co-founder Pius Uzamere made the original version of the BeCouply app for Cruze, his girlfriend, as a surprise gift for just the two of them to use.

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