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Hookups are out, life partners are in. This Stanford grad is expanding a college-dating app for students focused on long-term compatibility.

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/29/2022 lvaranasi@insider.com (Lakshmi Varanasi)
Marriage Pact © Marriage Pact Marriage Pact
  • Marriage Pact is a matchmaking service that started at Stanford in 2017. 
  • It pairs college students with their most compatible match on campus based on a 50-question survey.
  • The startup just raised $5 million in seed funding from Bain Capital Ventures and Nobel prize-winning angel investors.

Finding "love" these days often starts with swiping right on a dating app like Tinder or Bumble. Users often spend just seconds evaluating a profile before making a judgment call, studies say

"You're making a decision about people based on one or a couple photos and a couple of sentences," said Liam McGregor, the founder of Marriage Pact, a matchmaking service that has been sweeping across college campuses of late. 

"If you're looking for a five-day relationship, that might be all you need," he said.

But McGregor contends that more often than not people are hoping to find life partners. The problem, he said, is that they don't know where to start because they don't really know themselves.

McGregor believes that's where Marriage Pact can offer guidance. It operates differently from most dating apps on the market — there are no pictures, no names, no carousel of profiles to choose from.

The goal is not to literally pair people off for good, but to introduce them to the kind of person they should consider for the long term. As the name suggests, participants make a facetious "pact" to marry their match if they're both in their late 30s, still single, and want to settle down. 

Participants answer a 50-question survey that dives deep into 4 components that McGregor believes form the core long-term compatibility: personal values (which touch political leanings and world views), personality traits, romantic behaviors (McGregor describes this as how one operates in a relationship), and relationship expectations. 

"When you're talking about your values deep down it's hard to evaluate other people," McGregor said. "You look at someone, and it's hard to tell what their values are," he laughed.  

The survey includes questions like "Would you be ok if you spent your life doing good for others but didn't receive recognition?" or "Is there such a thing as unconditional love?" Even philosophical queries like "Do I have free will?"

Participants rate each question on a scale of 1 to 7 depending on how strongly they agree or disagree. 

Those responses are fed through an algorithm to match someone with their most compatible partner on campus. The results are released to everyone via email at the same time. 

Algorithms, of course, are only tools of discovery not divination. McGregor said that Marriage Pact's algorithm "optimizes" the number of best possible matches. Each match is given a percentile score that shows how its compatibility ranks against other matches at the school. Some matches naturally score higher than others.

Students often participate because the process is a positive exercise in self-reflection as much as it is a roadmap to partnership. It's also "an intensely social experience" across campus, Marriage Pact's head of operations told Insider.

Liam McGregor, founder of Marriage Pact. Marriage Pact © Provided by Business Insider Liam McGregor, founder of Marriage Pact. Marriage Pact Still, McGregor said that approximately 30% of participants end up meeting their match. Of that fraction, he said, one in eight are still dating a year later. 

The seed for Marriage Pact grew out of an economics class McGregor took as an undergrad at Stanford back in 2017. A year out of college, he quit his job as a data scientist at Microsoft, and embraced the startup grind full time. 

Since then, Marriage Pact has expanded to 80 colleges across the country. McGregor hopes to double that number by the end of the school year next June. 

The startup has also caught the eye of prominent investors. Marriage Pact raised $5 million in seed funding this month from big-name firms like Bain Capital Ventures, the venture arm of consulting firm Bain Capital, Precursor Ventures, and Centre Street Partners.

    
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