In 2014, I set aside time to pursue a concept that had been brewing in my mind since my days in grad school. This was a chance to merge my background in genetics with my tech expertise to create a product I am passionate about. Collaborating with three fellow scientist and designer co-founders, we crafted an MVP for a genetic matchmaking startup.
Love at first swab is a matchmaking experiment that engages participants with curiosity in scientific play by bringing them together based on their compatibility score defined through HLA genotyping.
The participants would get swab kits and send us back samples.
We perform HLA typing on their DNAs and define potential matches.
We invite the potential matches to an event without telling them who they might match with to let them meet folks serendipitously if desired.
We got 10% conversion on our landing page experiments; people were willing to buy and try this product for $199.
We were trying to found this startup in Turkey. After working with our legal team, we ran into government regulations that essentially made our self collection kits unacceptable. But we didn't throw the towel.
Instead, we threw a science matchmaking party without testing people's actual DNAs. We invited a bunch of folks who showed interest in Love At First Swab to a friend's bar. We distributed 6 permutations of DNA puzzle pieces at the entrance. The guests would try to find their match through fitting their puzzle piece with another guest and if successful, would get a free shot at the bar.
Our guests had lots of fun playing the game and getting to know others.
People just need a reason to talk to each other
What we understood at the end of this journey is that; people just need a reason to talk to each other. So we made plans to pivot this work into science parties with games for folks who are tired of the current dating scene and want to have some fun meeting people.