Ah yes, it’s almost that time of year again. You know, when the love birds come out and cupid’s arrow starts flying around. With good old Valentine’s Day right around the corner, some couples are most likely already preparing to celebrate this so-called holiday in style. But what about everyone else? Well, there are always that crowd that tends to opt-out of the romantic commercial holiday for numerous reasons, but what about the few that are somewhat in limbo? I mean, what if you just don’t know if she likes you?
Well, SecretPoke is yet another new French dating startup that should help you figure things out. Unlike more traditional dating sites, you don’t have to fill out a form or create a profile to sign-up for the service – simply enter your email address and the email address of your crush. The platform will then send an email to your crush to inform her that she’s got a secret admirer. If she’s interested in anyone, the site allows her to enter the email address(es) of that person (or persons) and if there’s a match, your identities will be revealed to each other. It’s as simple as that.
Ok, so it’s nothing like some of the other French dating startups that let you shop for a potential boyfriend online or chose a man like pair of shoes. It doesn’t mirror the Groupon daily deal model in the same way that Edealdujour does (the site features 1 single man per day) and it isn’t trying to get you to leverage your network on Facebook à la Smartdate (even if it does seem like the use of the word “poke” in “SecretPoke” should somehow be affiliated with a Facebook poke). It’s just a very basic email scheme that plays more on people’s curiosity than anything else. Regardless, it is part of the recent boom in the creation of new and rather original dating sites in France – perhaps demonstrating that the 20-35 age-range is looking for a new way to meet and connect with people.
In addition to it’s simplicity, SecretPoke definitely needs to leverage virality; the site will naturally only generate matches if it is able to recognize emails entered in the database. Therefore, the more people who sign up for the service, the better. SecretPoke uses a Freemium business model, whereby users can send 3 secret admirer notifications for free and then buy credit to send additional notifications (starting at €1.99 for an additional notification or €4.99 for a pack of 10). This should also help to limit spamming someone with multiple emails from users that are not willing to pay.
SecretPoke actually isn’t too far from the model used by a similar French startup, Secrètement Vôtre. This site allows users to email their crushes in a similar fashion but gives them the option to reveal some information (generally 2 keywords) that could potentially help the recipient to guess their identity. With SecretPoke, you also have the option to send a clue or not. Similar Facebook-based applications, like Lovebook, have also been created so that users don’t have to trouble themselves with any emails. Although the morally conscious application won’t match you with anyone that has their relationship status listed as “in a relationship.” Then again, I should point out that the application does not specify whether or not it matches with people listed as “in an open relationship” or with the infamous “it’s complicated” status so I’m guessing they’re fair game.
But coming back to SecretPoke, below is a look at what the email notification actually looks like (yes, the service is also available in English!). To me, it’s a bit ashame that there aren’t personalization options to make it look less spammy or some silly generic notifications that could give the email a more Zoosk-like flavor. But hey, that’s just me. For any TechCrunch Europe readers that would like to try the service, please use the code “TCEU” (limited to 100 people). And for anyone who is perhaps a little less shy, check out these examples for some more geeky valentine inspiration.