Valentine’s Day is perhaps the most love-to-hate holiday of all time. For the last month, you have been accosted by pink fluffy bears and heart-shaped chocolate on your weekly grocery-store trip. V-Day is still a week away, and you’re already sick of it.
Maybe that’s because you and your partner find it contrived — but more likely it’s because you are single, and have been doing the heart-shaped holiday all wrong.
Enter Qualify, the brand new dating app debuted by University of Colorado Boulder senior Sean Chenoweth along with co-founders and fellow CU-Boulder students Keenan Olsen and Jack Elder, and Chief Technology Officer Christian Tucker who is a full-stack coder and SEO specialist.
Before you discount Qualify as another Tinder or Bumble — think again.
“The dating apps I was using were not working. After a series of awkward dates that were bad for both my date and for myself because we had nothing in common, I thought, if only I could qualify my matches,” Chenoweth says. “Tinder is based on the way someone looks and Match.com has a lengthy profiling process with questions developed by Match. Why not create a dating app in between both of those where I could ask my own questions of prospective dates, and even gamify it to make it fun?”
With the help of dedicated friends, and with superb mentorship and funds from Catalyze CU, the startup accelerator program at CU-Boulder, Chenoweth has done just that.
What separates Qualify from the rest of the dating apps out there is the user-generated aspect and that it is only available for college students with a valid .edu email address. The model of the app works like this:
After downloading the app, you see a name and the blurred photo of a potential date. You come up with three questions and answers, and as the other person answers your questions correctly, the photo un-blurs. Your potential partner is then able to quiz you with three questions of their own. Answer only one correctly, and you are able to start a conversation with your prospective new date.
The revolutionary dating app has been propelled into the spotlight ever since it won Boulder Chamber’s 2016 Esprit Venture Challenge, a contest between three top early-stage startups who pitch their companies during the event to the audience of over 300 attendees who vote on the winning company. Awarded a prize of $10,000, Chenoweth says this incredible funding has enabled them to develop an Android version of the app in addition to the Apple version of the app, which is already available on the App Store. According to the co-founders, one out of three college students have Android phones and their primary goal is to get more users, so the Esprit Venture Challenge funding came at a crucial time. They have also worked with Boulder-based public relations firm Metzger Albee to promote their app, which they say has been invaluable.
Keenan remarks, “Winning the Challenge has given us so much exposure, and the Boulder startup community has been tremendously supportive. For example, local accelerator Boomtown invited us to pitch at their Demo Day. It’s wonderful to be part of Boulder’s community, in the middle of Boulder’s amazing startup ecosystem.”
Originally beta tested at CU-Boulder where it was rolled out to 1,500 students, Qualify generated over 2,000 quiz takes per week, an impressive number which stunned everyone. Currently, Qualify is only available to universities in Colorado, but Chenoweth and his team plan to release it nationwide in the near future, and even have their sights set on possible international markets. Chenoweth is graduating this spring and plans to pursue a career at Qualify to make it into a mainstream dating app.
And it’s not only college students who should be excited about the app. Qualify will be reaching out to businesses because they will be able to add their branding to sponsored quizzes, for example, and could potentially offer giveaways such as free drinks or discounts to users.
“We see Qualify being at every university in the U.S. and becoming ‘The’ definitive college dating app. We’re even looking at test markets for the possibility of a longer-term roll out to countries outside of the U.S.,” Chenoweth says. “As to expanding the demographic to other age groups, the answer is no. We will stay with college students as our market.”
To celebrate their ingenious app, and to spread the love on Valentine’s Day, Qualify will be part of a special V-day event, “License to Love,” hosted by License No. 1 Bar in the iconic Hotel Boulderado — and the bash is designed to get singles mingling. The deal is buy one get one free drink, but only if you give that second drink to someone sweet you have been wanting to talk to all night.
The bash starts at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, February 14 at License No. 1 bar with no cover, DJ, and all-night drink specials. You might just find that all of the fluffy pink decor is a little less horrifying when you have someone to share it with.
Learn more at http://qualify.buzz/ or download it from the App Store.
About the Co-Founders of Qualify:
Sean Chenoweth: Sean co-founded Qualify in 2015 while enrolled at the University of Colorado. His entrepreneurial spirit and leadership led Qualify into the University’s program for student-led start-ups, where they received the CU-New Venture Challenge Rising Star Award. From this success, Qualify was accepted into Catalyze CU, a start-up accelerator for college students, and in the fall of 2016 his team won the Boulder Chamber of Commerce Esprit Challenge.
Keenan Olsen: Keenan grew up just outside of Boulder and is currently a senior at the University of Colorado studying economics. In his time at the University, Keenan met his co-founder Sean as roommates. Both were members of the CU Gold leadership program in fall 2016 and also founded the Internet Marketing Club with Jack Elder in 2015. Keenan continues to help build the Qualify app and recruits new employees.
Jack Elder: Jack grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and is currently a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. Jack is passionate about biology, the outdoors and can work magic with a camera (follow him at @thtgoodsht). He will graduate with a double major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular and Cellular Developmental Biology. Jack was childhood friends with Sean and he helps lead digital production and marketing for the team.
Christian Tucker: Christian developed his passion for coding at a young age, when he began programming and building computers the age of eight. He was approached to help develop Qualify in 2015 while he was teaching programming theory out of his home in Alvin, TX. Christian made the trip to Colorado to help start the app and was able to code Qualify himself. He is the CTO of Qualify and loves to use his skills as a full stack engineer and SEO specialist to develop for others.