5 Things: Master the Art of Online Dating

Tony Kramer, founder of dating app SparkStarter, shares what he’s learned about finding love online


Photo courtesy of SparkStarter

“I’m in a tractor,” Tony Kramer says. It’s a surprisingly analog place to reach the founder of SparkStarter, one of the fastest-growing online dating apps since Tinder. Launched a year ago on Valentine’s Day, the Woodbury-based company has more than 250,000 users tapped into a free network of some 30 million potential matches on Facebook. But Kramer isn’t too busy to help out on his family’s farm in Hayfield or to share what he’s learned about successful digital dating.

  1. Being set up by friends leads to more lasting relationships than meeting randomly, according to a University of Minnesota study that Kramer related to. He was set up with his future wife, a friend of a friend on Facebook. SparkStarter works similarly to “humanize the process,” as the New York Times put it, supplying matches based on its algorithm along with recommendations from friends acting as matchmakers—a kind of digital dinner party.
  2. Most dating sites want to keep you single for a while. “The better they are at finding a match right away, the worse it is for their business,” Kramer says. SparkStarter tries to find the best match quickly, hoping former singles return to the app as matchmakers.
  3. The big dating pools are shallower than you think. That’s because one company owns Match.com, Tinder, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, and HowAboutWe. “A lot of the time they’re simply transferring users from one site to another,” Kramer says—the same people show up again and again.
  4. Friends know you better than you know yourself. Matchmaking precludes self-sabotage, like always going for the girl with the big hair or the guy with the big bucks. “It may be tough to admit what you really need,” Kramer says.
  5. Looks matter. “A lot is in the eye of the beholder,” Kramer says. “We don’t quantify that in our algorithm, but if someone’s always interested in blondes, not brunettes, we’ll pick up on it. Dating is not an exact science.”

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