Over 90% of Gen Z claim at least one frustration with dating apps, according to a research agency called YouthSight. Jerush Christopher, the CEO and Co-Founder of Raleigh-based Shipp, said his startup allows people to meet in-person using technology to make it easier to do so. Shipp is a spontaneous way to locate people near you who are interested in meeting up at a coffee shop or other local venue.
Shipp adds location as a factor for who you are matching with. It’s launching first on college campuses, where participants are naturally located close to each other.
“Shipp is a dating app where you match with those who are nearby,” Christopher said.
Christopher is part of the 2023 cohort of NC State’s Miller Fellowship. The program supports newly graduated entrepreneurs who launched startups as undergrads and want to pursue their venture fulltime with resources and a monthly stipend of $1,000.
Shipp has received $6K in grant funding from the Penn Wharton Innovation Fund at the University of Pennsylvania; Vivek Olumbe, the startup’s Co-Founder and CTO, graduated from Penn with a degree in computer science.
Shipp also received a $500 prize from NC State’s Wolf Den competition. Christopher graduated from NC State with a masters in chemical engineering last month.
On dating apps there is a chance you can get “ghosted”–when communication is cut off by someone without an explanation, often without ever even meeting in person. Christopher said Shipp is reducing the likelihood of this phenomenon from happening by enabling more face-to-face communication, rather than on the phone via text message.
Shipp is also allowing for in-person dates to happen earlier in the process. It can often take days or weeks after “meeting” someone on a dating site before actually seeing them in real life—if ever. Christopher said that talking over a text messaging system on dating apps is not the optimal way of gauging whether someone is a potential partner or not.
Christopher’s friends told him that while using popular dating apps, there were many first dates that never turned into second dates.
“We realized we had a shared frustration on dating apps,” he said.
This was the inspiration for Christopher to start Shipp.
How the app works is when you match with someone, you will receive a notification on your device. You can click to see a photo of the person if you choose—but only for three seconds—along with a few basic details. This allows people to see if they are interested in meeting their date without focusing too much on appearances.
If both users choose to accept, you can walk towards each other and have your first conversation face-to-face, as opposed to conversing online.
“As you walk towards (your match) you learn more about them,” Christopher said.
Shipp will then show you a location to meet your date at. Once you arrive at the meeting spot, Shipp will allow you to see their whole profile. Seeing a person’s profile can help you see what their interests are, so you can have an easier time starting a conversation.
After a date, you will get the option to report a match if things went wrong. You can type in your reasoning behind why the person deserves to be reported in the app.
You can also connect with your friends on the app. In a contact list, you can choose who can receive a message that you are meeting up with someone. This ensures safety so others know you are planning to go on a date.
To make sure only students are using the app, you have to sign in using your school email with an “.edu” address.
To fill out your profile, there are two prompts to help you. You are able to choose from a list of options to click on as your interests.
Christopher is beta-testing at NC State to start off, and then launching at UNC-CH and Duke. After introducing Shipp to these schools, he aims to move the app to major cities like Washington D.C. and expand beyond the student market.
Christopher and Olumbe plan to have a public launch at Packapalooza, an event held for NC State students and staff, occurring this year on Aug. 26 from 2-10 p.m.
The app is currently free to use, but Shipp is working to offer paid subscriptions.