350°: Never Eat Alone

by Lauren Toman

Dating can be tricky, especially when you can’t go outside and meet up with a potential love interest. Although quarantine has been a challenge for many to stay connected with their friends and family, many Americans have shown a willingness to connect with others over dating platforms. The dating app Hinge has reported a 30% increase in messages in March compared to January or February 2020 on their platform and conducted a survey that showed 70% of their users would be interested in an online video chat date. 

350° was created in order to facilitate new connections through an engaging platform. While maintaining a standard dating app profile and swipe connection aspects, 350° goes further to bring people together by allowing users to meet through an online video chat room in order to have a dynamic cooking date. Although first dates can be awkward, 350° works to make a fun experience by walking users through recipes and prompting users with food related icebreakers. Users can feel good knowing that they created something delicious and were able to connect with someone new. 

The first thing that we wanted to address with 350° was how we could create a unique user experience for each of our users. This starts with the personalization of each user’s profile. Upon noting skill, allergies, preferences, and other categories, our revolutionary algorithm is guaranteed to match you with someone who loves food as much as you.
After setting up a profile, users prompted to swipe on other users based on favorite types of cuisine, food related ice breakers, past culinary creations, and other interests. If two users like one another, a private chat-room is created where they can decide what food they would like to make together. One fantastic feature about 350° is the recipe recommendation feature that appears in the user’s chat-room. This allows users to receive personalized recommendations based on past recipes, trending recipes, or shared culinary interests. 

A simple UI allows users to see one another, while the directions are displayed at the bottom of the screen. To advance to the next step, users only have to swipe. Users can enter or exit the app, and 350° will be sure to keep your call going. 

Everyone has to eat, so why not do it with someone new? 

Link to google presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1_lm18ywUTQBmmISRsB9xwsMaopseqVxbhI-hh7rr16c/edit#slide=id.g733f637bcb_0_13

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Vivian Zhou April 13, 2020 - 2:15 pm

I think this idea is super interesting because in addition to not being able to go out and meet up with people, one factor of quarantine is that people are also cooking and baking a lot more at home. For many people, this might be a first, so I think people are also following recipes and trying out creating new things more than ever! I even personally thought of an idea similar to this with some friends the other day – we were bored and didn’t want to just stream a movie or play games online together as many people have been doing, and we all love Bon Appetit, so we thought it would be fun to choose a relatively simple recipe and all follow along together! Cooking is so fun to figure out as you go, and you can ask each other questions/figure things out along the way. At the end, you’re left with a feeling of accomplishment and a delicious meal that you can maybe share over video chat. I would definitely use this product, but I think it would be extra cool if it was expanded to support users just looking for platonic friendship and interpersonal connection during this especially isolating time. This could be as simple as simply indicating what type of interactions you’re looking for on your profile, and the app only matching you with people who’s preference matches yours (think datamatch haha).

Margaret Sun April 13, 2020 - 3:50 pm

I love the idea of swiping on foods to decide a match–the most popular BuzzFeed quizzes seem to be ones where the questions and results are unpredictable or completely unrelated, as with the Datamatch quiz. Cooking together is something we don’t often get time to do, and I like how this makes use of quarantine time.
Would it be possible to filter for ingredients? There may be unequal access to food or groceries at this time, and kitchen equipment might also vary across sites. I wonder if there could be a substitute experience for these matches.
It might be a cool addition to collect quarantine-adjusted recipes to post publicly from successful meetups. Matches can video chat about foods they miss and think of ways to approximate given their resources. My blockmates and I are collecting quarantine recipes we hope to implement when we get back, and compiling a virtual cookbook might be fun, and inspire future matches to experiment!

Tobias Haefele April 13, 2020 - 5:05 pm

I’m loving this idea – bringing people together via food is a nice way of overcoming some of the virus induced social isolation.
Showing people part of their home (kitchen) can also be a nice way of getting to know someone and learn something about their personality etc. and cooking together allows reaching a “shared objective”.

How have you thought about following through the user journey? Would people go on a one-off cooking date and then encouraged / allowed to chat / exchange contacts etc.? Or is the idea just to find rotating matches for not having to eat by oneself?

I would also love to see this being tailored according to “recipes” and dietary requirements. E.g. people put in dietary requirements and then get matched with people who share them and/or recommended delicious but simple-ish recipes that matche these criteria.

Adam Moqrane April 13, 2020 - 10:10 pm

Pretty cool idea and like the interface too! Might be a bit challenging for me personally trying to cook a meal and trying to seem attractive over front facing camera simultaneously, but could work wonders for some.. Maybe organising recipes by time/difficulty could solve that problem? Would happily do a 30 second omelette with someone

Nan Yang April 13, 2020 - 10:29 pm

It is an interesting combination! Personally speaking, I assume myself in front of the stove might be very messy, I would appreciate it if the camera can automatically polish up my face just a little bit. LOL. And I find this app may also apply to people who would enjoy valuable time with their close friends or follow an online food tutorial from food bloggers. the graphics are very simple and cute.

Wanxi Yang April 13, 2020 - 10:29 pm

I love this idea! Dating apps are trending now and there are so many options that are not necessarily good. Your product feels very genuine and interactive. People can truly develop a real relationship with this experience. I have two concerns regarding the design. First, cooking is an event that I have to invest a fairly large amount of time and energy. If meeting new people means I have to cook right away, I would be very hesitant to start a conversation. Second, cooking might be a long process. If I don’t know the person well or if I dislike the person the second we begin our video chat, completing the process of cooking seems very tedious for dating apps in this form.

Nourhan Shaaban April 13, 2020 - 10:40 pm

This is a very creative idea and can be useful to many people, but I wonder if by making it cooking-related, it drastically reduces the number of potential users? One thing to consider is how you could different people get ingredients? At a time where everyone is in a different timezone, what “times” will be best for people to cook/eat? Overall, it is creative and I would personally use it.

TJ Song April 14, 2020 - 1:29 am

This is so so creative! I feel like pre-quarantine this would still be an awesome idea, but now that more people are at home on their phones, I think that this app has so much more actual oomph in competing against major dating apps. I think that the fact that we can’t go out and eat, and then capitalizing on this is very responsive to a new need and is catching the worm earliest in the morning. BUT, the caveat is that if the quarantine is lifted and people can go on normal dates, I wonder for the future of this app. It would be critical for this app to secure a big enough following before the selective pressure for this app is released.

Gabe Ziaukas April 14, 2020 - 2:03 am

This is a great way to inspire connection! Not only does making the meal together create a unique shared experience for both parties, but it also promotes a relaxed environment where conversation flows naturally, rather than a cliche and forced environment like a bar.

Marisa Trapani April 14, 2020 - 2:14 am

I really enjoyed this app proposal, I agree with the earlier comments about this being a novel, engaging, exciting way to meet and spend time with potential romantic partners. My only thing, which Margaret actually brought up in her comment, is that people may not have access to the normal breadth of ingredients they otherwise would. This could seriously impinge upon their ability to prepare their “signature dishes” with their dates. Something interesting to consider I a restructuring of the app which plays exactly on the fact that people are using whatever they have in their homes to make food. In other words, what if you could input the ingredients your have & are planning to use to prepare a given meal and then the app pairs you with both a recipe & a person to prepare the meal with. It’s definitely riskier, almost like a meal AND date roulette combined… but I think people could possibly be enticed to use the app by the lack of control they have in picking a meal partner.

Zach Snyder April 14, 2020 - 2:28 am

This is a really cool spin on dating platforms especially with what’s going on in the world atm. I would love to see this is in real life, and I think if the recipes included enough simple ingredients the app is really feasible. It would be a little awkward at first, but I think people would warm up to eachother since they are both focused on cooking rather than solving awkward silence.

Danielle Green April 14, 2020 - 5:00 am

This is an interesting take on the dating app! I really feel there is more room in this space for the development of apps based on shared interests and values. Diets are practically a lifestyle, embodied 24/7. There really should be a platform to match vegans, ketos, paleos, etc. There’s also the potential to innovate the dating game with videoconferencing software. If you think about dating apps today, they mostly connect people based on geography and proximity, so you’re often limited by radius and predetermined boundaries. But we all know that true love knows no geographic bounds.

If you want to take this project to the next step, I do feel there’s a lot to reflect upon because there are many different moving parts to the execution. For example, you have the delivery and logistics piece with regard to making sure that everyone is aligned with the right ingredients. How are you going to solve for that? You could possibly collaborate with a meal delivery platform like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, as you mentioned in your presentation. Secondly, I notice there are two compelling interests here, including the cooking piece and videoconferencing piece. They are both novelties offered by the product. They are both intriguing, but out of curiosity, would you ever consider perfecting and refining just one of these novelties for the sake of the project? There’s a lot to focus on here in terms of directionality. Maybe tease out a singular variable and work on perfecting and refining it.

The videoconferencing piece might be greater complex to implement and execute in the real world. However, it’s a really compelling idea and with the increasing digitization of everyday life, could be the next wave of dating. Videoconferencing could also liberate us from the geographic boundaries of dating apps.

Malila Freeman April 14, 2020 - 5:31 am

I really love this idea! I think it fills a very niche need right now in self isolation both because people are spending time more cooking because there’s a lot of reduced access to restaurants (tragic) and also because people are looking for ways to connect with people romantically and date. In terms of solving the ingredient issue that we discussed in class, I think a good way to solve for this is whenever people want to cook/go on a date using 350, they can specify what types of ingredients they already have in their kitchens and the app can provide the user with a series of recipes that utilize those ingredients. This is the process that we used for our app, Skin Share, and I think it’s also a really unique way to get people involved in cooking their own food because they know that they will have what they need instead of scouring over tons of recipes to find one that fits their ingredients list. Combining this process with the dating aspect results in a totally unique app that I think a lot of people would be super excited to use!

Ying Zhang April 15, 2020 - 12:43 am

I think this idea of bringing food and dating is interesting but I am actually not sure how it will work out. The virtual stage could work fine as other dating app but the real camera sharing your cooking or kitchen part is actually a little bit hard to realize.

Ana Maria Delmar April 15, 2020 - 3:56 am

I really love this idea, it seems like so much fun and its a great way to get past a certain *barrier* you might have during dates, and it fits well into the new dating landscape that is online…. This gives people a great activity to immediately jump into, a physical activity without actually being together. It could be fun to have challenge aspects to this, like in a cooking show, like Chopped, where you get a mystery basket etc and have only 30 mins to complete your dish. It could be a fun bonding experience. And also food tells you a lot about a person!! So you are seriously discovering a different side of people.

Kongyun He April 16, 2020 - 5:27 pm

I think this idea is very interesting and could be used for finding friends as well. I can see people using this app since so many people are passionate about food even if they don’t know how to cook and this would be a great platform for both learning and finding love. Partnering with ingredient delivery service is a good idea given the current pandemic, and it would also help people stay committed to actually video calling the person they match with.

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