Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a (Digital) Match
An interview with Lian Zucker, co-founder of the new dating app, Loop, that lets you play matchmaker with your friends.
This week was another obscure Jewish holiday! It was Tu B’Av, the Jewish holiday of love, dating back to the Second Temple Period (516 B.C.E - 70 C.E.), when unmarried women would run through a field wearing white to find husbands. Today, people go to “white parties” to dance which sounds incredibly racist and quite silly.
For this week’s edition I wanted to interview a matchmaker, but my friend who is obsessed with the hottest dating app, Loop, which lets friends connect their single friends via their personal networks, said, “With Loop, WE’RE the matchmakers now!”
I’m not one for the apps myself, but this dating app is becoming wildly popular with Jews of all flavors, so I jumped at the chance to interview co-founder Lian Zucker on her success and why she thinks her app is attracting so many millennial Jews.
How did Loop come to be?
It was born from my own personal experiences as well as that of many friends. I was struck when comparing my personal dating journey to that of my parents’ generation. My journey was dominated by apps with swiping like Hinge, Bumble, and Tinder. The last major innovation in this space came out with Tinder’s UX of swiping. But these apps create an illusion of a bottomless pit of options. They’ve done a lot of good in world - they made dating mobile first - but over last 10 years, nearly every app that came out was largely a derivative of that volume-based paradigm. Potential romantic candidates for intentional dating were plucked out of the ether without social context. While this did good, it also exacerbated bad dating behavior: lack of accountability, ghosting, catfishing, etc.
My parents’ story of how they met was definitely an inspiration for building this app. They met through a mutual family friend. My grandmother was a very strong woman and a Holocaust survivor who didn't take no for an answer. She kept on telling my dad to call this woman, Lili. My grandma kept saying, “You have to call this woman, Lili.” I guess he wasn’t prioritizing it. She even stuck a slip of paper saying “Call Lili” in his laundry.
My dad finally agreed to take Lili out and showed up at her parents’ apartment without knowing what she looked like, but what he did know was more profound: that they had shared values and similar family histories. He went in with an open mind and a level of trust, opened the door, saw she was wearing a red dress, and rest was history.
We launched on May 11th and grew faster than expected, spread by word of mouth. Many users sent us heartfelt messages that this app is exactly what’s been missing in their lives. They go on to invite everyone they know. The core message resonates, and that’s been essential to our growth. Many heads of communities, passionate connectors, and even professional matchmakers have been fast to sign up and spread the word.
This is what we’re solving for. Dating is not necessarily an info problem of “Will it really help to see me do a silly dance or know what book I read last?” We don’t believe that’s what most important here. What really is meaningful is trust. We believe that what creates romantic chemistry is quite mysterious but that trust and an open mind can make a huge difference.
How does Loop work?
Users sign up and indicate if they’re single or just there to set up friends. Everyone on Loop is a matchmaker; some people are singles. Singles create a profile describing who they are and who they’re looking for. Then, they make a “Loop” by connecting with anyone from their contact list who is also on the app. They then have access to those connections’ “Loops” to scroll through their friends’ friends. If they find someone they are interested in, they can request that the mutual friend set them up via the app. Friends can also suggest singles to each other.
Non-singles can use Loop as well, as they are still involved in the dating game! I convinced my friend to go on a second date with a guy who she ended up marrying. You may know what you want, but your friends often know what you need.
Why are so many Jews joining Loop?
Loop is bringing the traditional Jewish wisdom of matchmaking to the world at large, giving this 1,000-plus year-old tradition a digital facelift. It’s the power of introduction, where everyone is a matchmaker.
It’s been an honor that this has taken off in the Jewish community. It happened by accident. Our family is of Israeli roots but we’re not religious, yet this resonated a lot with the religious community because they appreciate matchmaking. The shidduch world can be alienating, but religious Jews would probably not go on Tinder or Bumble. Similarly in the secular world, people have been on dating apps but get sick of them or they can be damaging for your mental health. Matchmaking is really en vogue and we’re breaking that stereotype of what a matchmaker is.
But it’s not only Jewish! Matchmaking is deeply ingrained in dating culture. You know how in Judaism there’s the saying if you set up three couples successfully to marriage, you go to heaven? Turns out it’s the same in Korean culture. Matchmaking is also huge in Indian culture, Pakistani culture, Mormon culture, and Iranian culture, Latin American culture, etc. It comes from fear of assimilation and eagerness to connect with similar values. On Loop, the filter is the matchmaker.
Do you have any advice for people looking to date?
It’s all about your weak ties. LinkedIn did a study and found that the best job opportunities come not from your BFFs but from weak ties, someone you don’t have a ton of mutual friends with. Chances are you’ve already met your best friend’s best friends. A good introduction can come from anywhere. You should be proactive to build that Loop and add people who may have non-overlapping friend circles.
Have an open mind. We’re so much more than some superficial trait; who you are is much more than that. There’s huge power in saying yes, especially to introductions. This should not be a binary journey: the person in front of you is what you’re looking for, whatever your dating intention is, or the meeting is a complete waste of time. There’s serendipity involved here. You meet one person and they introduce you to another person. The best advice I can give is that we’re dealing with relationships and there’s friendship to be made along the way. For me personally, I have my list of criteria I look for, but every guy I’ve fallen for doesn’t meet that criteria. Be open.
Have you had any success stories so far?
We’ve had many people going on 5th or 6th successful dates and have had 3,000 successful set ups. Some say it’s the only app they use and have deleted their other dating apps. We’ve heard cute stories, like of a guy trying to help set up his platonic female friend, only to realize, “Why have we never dated?” They went on a date and it went great.
I asked some of my friends about their experience with Loop so far and here’s what they had to say:
“I just joined as a matchmaker!! So excited!”
“Someone just asked me, ‘Do you sleep, or are you just up all night matchmaking on Loop?’”
“So far, I’ve had multiple suggested ‘Loops’ with the same people. So we’re like… should we just go out? There might be something to it.”
“Loop is a brilliant concept and I’m so glad someone thought to bring it to life. It democratizes matchmaking — bringing transparency and trust to the dating experience.
Since joining in July, I went out with two people from this app, and both resulted in multiple dates — not a given for connections made through a dating app.
Because a friend vouched for each person, I felt far safer meeting up in person than I have when meeting up with someone unknown from Jswipe or Hinge.
Since the app is just a few months old, there are some noticeable snags to be worked out, but the team is so welcoming of feedback and so open to improving the app as it continues to gain traction. I am certain this app will lead to successful long term relationships, and many, many quality first dates.”
“Ok so I matched with a guy who lives all the way across the country. Yesterday he booked a flight(!) and hotel to come visit, and he arrives one week from today..! Shabbat Shalom / send lots of luck and good vibes please and thank you! 🙏🏻🤞🏻❤️”
Are you on Loop or have any dating advice to impart? Perhaps a good meet-cute to share? Comment below!
I hope your Shabbat is full of love,