Moriya Blumenfeld (MBA ’21) is reinventing the way the world finds love online.
How many dating apps does it take to find a co-founder? For Moriya Blumenfeld (MBA ’21), the answer is two.
In retrospect, the way Blumenfeld met her co-founder Lian Zucker is rather ironic. “I matched with this guy on Bumble who was an entrepreneur, and while there wasn’t romantic chemistry, we became friends,” Zucker said. “He kept telling me I had to meet his friend Moriya.” The two did meet, and it wasn’t until later that Blumenfeld told Zucker she had also met this friend via a dating app – Tinder – years before.
A dating app may seem like an unlikely place to find a business partner. To Blumenfeld and Zucker, it is also not a great place to find a romantic partner. Paradoxically, and despite their lucky connection, they believe that mainstream dating apps are not set up to create setups of any kind. “I came to HBS knowing I wanted to start a company in this universe, because I had been struggling with dating apps for many years,” Blumenfeld shared. “I saw a huge business opportunity in this space to shift the paradigm and look at things in a different way. Then I met Lian, and the rest is history.” Their CTO and third co-founder Adam Zucker, who is also Lian’s brother, joined the pair soon after.
The team believes that most dating apps seek to solve an information problem – which is not the right problem to solve. With Tinder and its many derivatives (Hinge, Bumble, etc.), users are presented with information: photos, surveys, prompts, voice memos, chatrooms, and more. But the real problem, they believe, lies in trusting this information – and most people do not trust the strangers they swipe on. “The experience of swiping on random people and getting ghosted has created this really toxic environment, such that 70% of people believe they’re being lied to on dating apps,” Blumenfeld told me. Zucker jumped in to share more details: “There are Facebook groups dedicated to determining if people are catfishers. Something like 25% of people on dating apps are not actually single. The baseline assumption has become ‘I’m being lied to.’”
They hope to fix this with Loop. The idea is simple and “doesn’t invent anything new.” Instead, it is based on fundamental dynamics present throughout human history. As Zucker shared: “People historically met their romantic partners through trusted sources: a family member, a friend, your physical community, church.” The inherent trust that comes from meeting in this way provides a strong foundation on which to start a relationship. “The context in which you meet a person is extremely important to the outcome of what’s going to happen,” Zucker elaborated. Loop seeks to pair this history with technology through a product that makes setting up friends fun, convenient, and rewarding.
There are also members of the dating game that no one has built an app for yet: friends. “Friends are crucial. They’re the ones sitting with single friends hearing about failed or successful dates. And many of them have FOMO. They find dating apps fun,” Zucker said. Beyond finding dating apps fun, there is a psychological reason for involving friends too. “When you talk to someone who has successfully set their friend up, they won’t shut up about it. It’s because it’s the best thing you can do. And it makes them feel good.” It goes both ways: it feels good to have your friends compliment and promote you, too.
Users join Loop by completing a short three-step process, including indicating if they are single and want to be set up or if they just want to set up others. They are then prompted to invite friends to join, thus building out their Loop community. Once on the app, anyone can make an intro between two single friends, or ask a friend to help set another friend up. Loop also includes a spotlight function, called “Feature,” that allows users to pitch a friend to their full network – not unlike a virtual singles pitch night.
HBS students will be the first to try Loop when it launches on campus on April 9. “The way the app works, it really speaks to some of the values HBS endows in us,” Blumenfeld told me. “Good business is about reciprocity: helping others and making them successful, and vice versa. Loop is a way for everyone to make powerful introductions and feel good for making those introductions.”
The choice to launch exclusively at HBS felt surprising. While Boston is a big city, the community that students build in their two years here feels very much like a bubble. As I wrote in an article about campus romances last month, that bubble has fewer single people than one might think, and the lack of privacy deters many from dipping into the HBS dating pool. Blumenfeld pushed back on my skepticism, arguing that students’ networks expand outside of HBS to the broader Harvard and Boston communities. Plus, with a launch right before summer, they hope Loop will catch on as students graduate and move to new cities for full-time roles or internships. “The people we are friends with are just as high quality. We’re excited about the potential for students to meet people through the HBS network that aren’t at HBS.” Though never an MBA student herself, Zucker agreed that the business school environment was the perfect starting point for Loop: “People go to business school to build a network. And they meet a lot of great people. Loop allows you to leverage that network in a unique new way.”
Throughout our conversation, we also talked about what drew both women to entrepreneurship. They described it, cheekily, as not all that different from dating. “When it comes to building a company, you have to be curious about and comfortable with what you don’t know. You also have to be really open and willing to speak with a bunch of different people,” Zucker shared. “There are a lot of parallels to dating. You never know why and how you’ll meet someone. Both involve lots of serendipity, and also really hard work and resilience.” Starting a company requires the feeling of obsession that often accompanies a crush. The two founders told me that “you should only start a company if you literally can’t not. If you’re so obsessed that you know you can’t go to sleep and function without giving it your all.” They continued the analogy by talking about how being a founder and dating both require an appetite for risk. You have to be willing to put yourself out there as a single person seeking love; as an entrepreneur, Blumenfeld told me, you need to “let go and be totally okay with risk.” Their final piece of advice was the importance of finding a good co-founder. Business partners are called “partners” for a reason – “it’s exactly like marriage, but even more intense, because your company is basically a baby,” Blumenfeld joked.
Their passion for the product they are building is palpable. Over the course of our 45 minutes together, both entrepreneurs eagerly jumped in to answer each question I asked, sometimes cutting one another off or finishing each other’s sentences. They laughed as they shared their “meet-cute” story. Blumenfeld and Zucker have not yet cracked the mystery of how or why two people fall in love. They aren’t really trying to. Their mission is simpler: if they can convince people to get off the swipe-based apps and trust in their friends instead, they will have succeeded.
Test it out for yourself by downloading the app here.
Rory Finnegan (MBA ’24) is originally from New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in poetry writing in 2018. Prior to HBS, she worked in consulting and CEO communications in New York.