MeetMoi: A Grindr for Meet Market (NOT Meat Market)
For those of us who have been looking for something beyond the "Mr. Right Now" hook-up sites and those dating sites that never seem to produce any meaningful romantic experiences, there’s -- finally! -- an app that provides instant introductions to gay men in the immediate area who are out and about right now.
If the concept sounds revolutionary, that’s probably because it is. The immediate comparison most gay men are going to make is to the most popular hook-up app. But unlike Grindr, this is more of a "meet market" than a "meat market."
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but some of us really do want to make honest-to-Pete social connections once in a while. And we want to do it in "real time," not just putting ourselves out there on a dating site.
I admit to having tried the latter and finding the experience lacking. Not only was there a dearth of available bachelors in my age bracket -- and this in New York City, no less -- but I didn’t manage to meet once single available man. Nor am I alone in this: Single friends have told me they had similar experiences.
Even if two people do appear to be compatible on a dating site, there has to be an arranged meeting. Since they are not talking in "real time" and may well live and work quite a distance from each other, there’s the necessity for the dreaded coffee date. Anyone who’s subjected himself to one of these knows how they usually end up: One or both parties instantly knows that it’s not going to lead anywhere, leading to a wasted few hours.
So if you’re equally frustrated by casual hook-ups that don’t lead anywhere and endless coffee dates that only get you hyped up on caffeine, meet MeetMoi.
MeetMoi’s CEO Alex Harrington describes his smartphone-based app as a "social introductory service. It introduces you to people you might want to date in the physical world," he explains. "Meeting people in the real world is preferable to meeting online."
’A Grindr for Meeting Up, Not Hooking Up’
Perhaps the best way to describe it, however, is as a "Grindr for meeting up, not hooking up." The way MeetMoi works is that, once you’ve downloaded the iPhone or Android app, MeetMoi presents matches and profiles of people in your immediate area.
Let’s say Bob is out shopping in the Soho neighborhood of New York and Sam’s office is nearby. Meetmoi detects their matching interests and makes the initial introduction via alerts on both their phones.
After reading each other’s profiles, they each figure, "What the hey, he’s nearby." So they start chatting, find they have a lot in common and decide to meet for a drink.
Probably, the most optimal situation for MeetMoi is, say, if one person is at a bar, alone or with friends, and gets an alert. After chatting, the other person comes down to the bar, is introduced to the group and has a drink. He may bring his own posse along with him, in which case MeetMoi has managed to introduce two compatible groups to each other.
Another situation in which the app might be especially useful is in a large cocktail party or benefit. It’s always hard to meet new people at these events. This allows an easy, no-commitment way to meet new people who are only a few feet away from you.
The great thing about it is that, even if the two don’t hit it off romantically, there is real, live social interaction among people. As someone who has complained about how gay men are living "virtually" these days on their cell phones, I see MeetMoi as potentially revolutionary in the way we not only use our smartphone, but the way we are living our lives.
If MeetMoi takes off, it will manage to take what has become the most alienating device -- the smartphone -- and make it into a tool for real-live meet-ups.
Using the Smartphone to Connect, Not Disconnect
As with most such services, there are two tiers of service: the free, basic one; and one that comes with a small subscription. Harrington naturally hopes that casual users will like the service enough to want to graduate to full, rather than limited, usage.
The concept for MeetMoi began in 2007, with Andrew Weinreich, who, Harrington says, "had the insight that the mobile world would change consumers’ consumption habits before it started happening in any meaningful way." He founded 6 Degrees, MeetMoi’s predecessor.
I asked Harrington if Meetmoi wouldn’t be especially useful in a city like New York, where people don’t have to get in their cars to meet. Living in Hell’s Kitchen, for example, I have probably 15 bars within a 12-minute walk from my apartment.
Harrington readily agreed and pointed out that, in fact, for the past year, he has been concentrating on New York to build traction and buzz for that very reason.
Then he explained that Meetmoi was targeting an even-more specific demographic. If you’re reading EDGE, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that that that happens to be ... us. Gay men have been shown to be early adapters of new technologies, and there are few others as wedded to their smartphones as we are.
Harrington also sensed a void in the gay market between hooking up and pre-arranged dates. "There’s a receptivity to apps addressing dating, not hook ups," he explained. And since younger guys use smartphones so much, it’s also not surprising that MeetMoi’s main users skew toward twentysomethings.
When asked about weekend getaway destinations like Provincetown or Fire Island, Harrington got really enthusiastic. "Weekend getaways are perfect for our service," he said. "Sometimes being on the beach is not the most social experience." Again, despite social gatherings like tea dances, it’s not always easy to meet new people at these places.
Gay-oriented resorts present a what Harrington calls a "target-rich environment. That’s where our app makes it like a speed-dating experience. You can meet someone without getting off your towel."
If you’re in the New York Area, listen up: MeetMoi has been sponsoring a series of events to get the word out about its service. On Wednesday, Oct. 24, MeetMoi is itself hooking up -- with Hugh Hysell’s hugely successful Times Square Socials. This one takes place at Boxers, the enormous and enormously popular sports bar located at 37 W. 20th St. It starts at 6 p.m. and the one and only Hedda Lettuce will be hosting "Game of Intros," which will be based on the number of introductions you manage to bag at the event on your MeetMoi app. Prizes include tickets to a Broadway show and a $150 bar tab -- which should provide you with plenty more intros, should you win! Download MeetMoi before you get there, because da bitch will be checking at the door.
This article is part of our "HomoTech" series. Want to read more?
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