“[Although] the resources change, but the mission and vision stay the same, how we see the pain, how we see the solution is the same. So, there are a [lot of information and experience] coming from Match group on how to achieve the vision but the mission is the same,” stated Sameh Saleh during a press conference on whether Harmonica, Egypt’s first online dating to marriage app, and its vision/mission would change after the major acquisition by Match Group of his company.
Match Group, the online dating giant with a market cap of over $20 billion, owns several international dating apps including Tinder and OkCupid. This is their first acquisition in the region so far, and will become their first official office in the Middle East.
Alexandre Lubot, CEO in EMEA and APAC at Match Group said in a statement, “Egypt is one of the most influential countries in the Middle East and Asia, and we will be putting real capital and resources to further scale Harmonica across the region, and leverage the local Egyptian team’s expertise to deliver on their promise to help users find serious relationships.”
Match Group’s representatives were not available for interviews at the time.
“This deal not only marks the first major Flat6Labs exit in less than two years, but also marks Match Group’s first entry in the MENA and the South-East Asian markets; and we’re proud that they’re actualizing this move with one of our very own startups,” said Ramez El-Serafy, Flat6Labs’ CEO.
Created To Protect Local Women Online
According to a statement
“Harmonica was designed to consider the safety of women who would be using the application as a priority. Women have the option to hide their photos until they approve that another user could view them. There is also a section in Harmonica for notes and remarks that enables women to rate the quality of their interaction with men through the application which affects how those men are prioritized in the algorithm.”
When we asked why it was important to the team that they focus on women’s needs within the app, Sameh replied.
“We feel that the biggest stressful part of arranged marriage and the current set-up of the region is on the females. We feel that most of the pain and the pressure is on the females in the region, so we built the app for them… and with that, definitely when we release the pressure or stress from the females, the males would actually find a better chance of making a successful marriage…I believe that females in the region need more empowerment…to take their future in their own hands. Getting married is something big, and we believe Harmonica can make this whole experience much easier and stress free and safe for them.”
Sameh founded Harmonica after witnessing his sister and other relatives attempt to meet potential husbands through the arranged marriage process.
According to Sameh, currently the ratio of male and female users is almost even, the majority are between 25 to 38, and living Cairo and Alexandra. He also noted that it is now common to hear from friends that people are using the app or have gotten married through meeting on the app. He and his team are often invited to weddings of young couples who have met through the app.
Spreading The Word of Digital Apps Offline
During the conference prominent TV Anchor, Lamis El Hadidy, whose entrepreneurship competition helped Harmonica spread awareness, made an appearance and noted the importance of traditional media and exposure, and of startups breaking the mold.
This shows that something completely digital can still benefit from the broad reach of traditional media, providing a boost that many online-only businesses should continue to consider in the years to come.
When asked about how they marketed the app, Sameh told us
“We believe that [online matchmaking] is still a new concept to society, so we always approach this with respect to the culture, respect to the society. We don’t want to push, it’s more of a conversation. I think this has been the most successful marketing tool for us. We are here to help society, we helped with that pain and the society reacted…So, we haven’t actually pushed a lot of marketing so far.
Most of our success is organic because we are mostly helping relieve that pain… If you build the product, the people will come.”