Ex-Military Physicist creates new HBS dating service.
The Harbus heard murmurs of DatingHub, a new HBS-centric dating service, that has been gaining notoriety among the student population. We sent our intrepid reporter, Vipul Chhajer (HBS ’16), to investigate and interview the creator of this service, Asaf Lifshitz (HBS ’16). The following conversation has been edited for clarity (and appropriateness).
What is DatingHub?
Dating Hub is a super simple website that facilitates HBSer-to-HBSer dating. You “like” someone, and if they “like” you back, you both get a notification. We strongly believe in this matching mechanism, and in fact have learned that other copycats like “Tinder” (Asaf makes quotation marks with his hands) are now doing the same. Oh, and you can only see people from your school.
By the way, it’s free and completely not-for-profit. You can sign-up at www.datinghub.xyz. And in case you’re wondering, over 7% of the class is on it.
Your Classcard says you studied physics in college and worked in R&D for the IDF before HBS. What’s the connection to dating?
Well, dating is a lot like physics. There’s laws of attraction at play, there’s momentum involved. And let’s not forget, nothing happens unless someone makes a move.
How many people are using DatingHub?
We have 127 active users and we have been logging week-over-week growth now. I’m proud to report that 38 future business leaders have already found someone through DatingHub.
Wow, that’s quite sizeable. Tell us what got you interested in creating this service?
I was enjoying some of that special Spangler salad for lunch with a few single section mates, and naturally, as with many HBS conversations, we started talking about dating. I mentioned the fact that building an HBS-specific app shouldn’t take that long. From that moment forward, 99% of their communication with me was trying to convince me to build it. For example, “Sc**w your cases, I’ll summarize those for ya!”, “The people need it, they demand it!” or “You can’t hang out with us until you build it”. Obsessive about my social standing, I couldn’t refuse.
But before writing any line of code, I approached a few extreme users, who I shall not name here. They thought DatingHub would be “Yuuugeee” (Asaf indicates this is an exact quote) and that was the final validation I needed. I looked to Silicon Valley and used every startup principle, such as – calling ourselves a platform, implying use of Artificial Intelligence, running it in the cloud and even as far as eating Ramen for lunch and dinner. If my TEM professor is reading this, I want to let him know that I am open to renegotiating my grade.
We learned in TEM that the best founders are ‘authentic founders’ who experience the pain point personally and set out to solve it. Are you an ‘authentic founder’?
I am dating someone outside of HBS. But I feel this is a phenomenon that I expect will disappear among HBSers in the coming years, thanks to DatingHub.
How much time have you put into DatingHub?
I initially expected that I would need to put 10 hours into it. But as more people joined, I got requests from people to add more features. For example, I was asked to include links to HBS Classcards for the people who joined the service. Which makes sense: If you worked for BCG, you want to know if your potential lover worked for McKinsey (God forbid).. Another interesting request was to allow EC’s and RC’s to like each other. Frankly I’m not surprised by this. HBS does a great job making sure you know your own class really well. The implication of being great at some things is that you’re not great at other things. One of them is mingling between EC’s and RC’s. We realized that and built features that allows EC’s and RC’s to like each other. This allows for special ‘mentoring’ opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable. I think DatingHub is already making a difference in the world. Did you see that US News recently ranked HBS as the number one business school? How do you think that came to happen?
(Rolls eyes) That’s great to hear, but you didn’t really answer my question.
Oh yes. For a moment, I thought I was in a BGIE classroom and my brain defaulted to making comments without answering the question. I’d say, I spent about three to four hours a week in January and February.
Is there anything about users that surprised you?
Hmm. One of the things that we learned when we sought user feedback was that some users were using DatingHub also as a roster for HBS singles, with online insights leading to offline action. Finding out someone is single via DatingHub, and later asking if they want to share a scorpion bowl at the Kong. Again, the HBS student population has showed their willingness to take initiative and be courageous. And DatingHub, as a partner, is proud to be an enabler of this.
Since this is The Harbus, where we hold very high standards of journalism, I can’t let you go without asking you
tough questions. What about privacy?
What happens to DatingHub after you graduate? How do you see it evolve?
The DatingHub vision will be realized when the HBS Admission Application puts a checkbox asking prospective students if their parents met on DatingHub. Additionally, if satisfied users want to pay it forward, they’re invited to share the link with other schools – the website is open to anyone with a .edu email (of course, always maintaining separation between schools).
It’s been great speaking with you. We wish you and DatingHub all the best.
Vipul Chhajer (HBS ’16) is passionate about technology, history and videogames. He left his heart on the West Coast and is figuring out how to get it back. For commentary on how the past and future intersect, follow him on Twitter @chhajerv.
Established in 1937, The Harbus News Corporation is the independent student news publisher of Harvard Business School.