Get Your Wink On

Dallas-based 15winks transforms online dating with better-than-Tinder mobile app

Dallas company transforms online dating with better-than-Tinder app

Instead of relying on static photos or wordy profiles, 15winks users upload short videos that are filmed using the in-app camera. Photo courtesy of 15winks
Subscribers can upload as many as 10 videos showing off different sides of their personality. Photo courtesy of 15winks
Users "wink" at each other to initiate a text message conversation. Photo courtesy of 15winks

Now more than ever, singles are going online to meet their mates. And a Dallas company believes it has come up with a better way. New mobile dating app 15winks helps users connect to other single adults within a 150-mile radius based on preferences for age and gender.

People can narrow down the radius to as little as one mile, and those who like each other can then initiate contact. Yep, it kind of sounds like Tinder. But there’s a cool twist.

Rather than sizing up romantic potential based on static profiles with a few fuzzy (and perhaps very outdated) pics, 15winks users upload new 15-second videos to show who they really are. “[It] lets people show sides of themselves a picture could not,” says founder and chief strategy officer Sam Mendez.

 “With a video, you get to see a person’s demeanor, hear his or her voice, see expressions, among so many other personality features,” says 15winks founder Sam Mendez.

“With a video, you get to see a person’s demeanor, hear his or her voice, see expressions, hear a person’s laugh, among so many other personality features.”

Members can “wink” at someone they like in hopes of getting a “wink” back and starting a text message conversation, which can, of course, lead to real-life dating. It’s kind of like giving someone bedroom eyes across a crowded bar, only there’s a big buffer — your smartphone screen.

Still, the video aspect seems to remove much of the risk that can come with online dating — that is, not knowing if you’re viewing an authentic profile or communicating with the person whose picture is posted. Because the in-app date-stamped video feature displays all the content, users must upload current footage and cannot rely on old material or engage in “cat fishing.”

According to Mendez, 15winks actually solves some of the major problems inherent in current dating apps and sites because it prevents users from duping one another. In fact, he’s heard estimates that up to 70 percent of photos on most dating sites can be either stale or phony.

Although it may be intimidating to put yourself out there beyond a favorite headshot (you know, the one from last summer where you look seriously hot), the app doesn’t demand you fill out lengthy questionnaires or submit yourself to some sort of psychological match-making. Much like Tinder, 15winks gives instant gratification for a relatively small commitment — a simple approach for now, but that could change based on long-term feedback and users’ requests.

Mendez and crew are targeting young professionals between the ages of 25 and 39 — especially women, because, as Mendez says, “Wherever the ladies are, the gentlemen will follow.” Users can register and log in for free via Facebook, and only their first name, age and city of residence will appear publicly.

These non-paying users can upload one introductory “hello” video, view as many videos of others as they like and “wink” at others, but they cannot initiate the chat feature. For $14.99 per month, subscribers can upload as many as 10 videos and communicate with any users in the network.

15winks is currently available in the Apple App Store, with the Android version coming soon to the Play Store. And shortly after making itself known in the dating scene here in Dallas, the app will be introduced to nearby cities like Austin and Houston.

Prospects are looking good.