meet real people, not fake profiles


LoveBuzz was a side project inspired by two of my girlfriends who wanted to meet that someone special, but found online dating was not the route for them. The original concept centered around a wearable device to help capture that serendipitous moment of crossing paths with someone in the real world that you might be interested. The concept took 1st place at a 2014 San Diego Startup Weekend event and was explored as a viable business over the course of ~8 months.


I conceived, pitched and led a 4-person team to win a ~120-person San Diego Startup Weekend event. Post event, I explored the concept seriously as a fellow in the Startup Leadership Program San Diego Chapter to evaluate business viability. In the process I learned lot about entrepreneurship, myself, and what all the startup hype is about.

The idea was inspired by seeking solutions to a few different problems. How might we…?

limit the harassment women experience in online dating?

facilitate more face-to-face interactions important to determining compatibility?

limit time wasted on disappointing and fake profiles?

safeguard personal information and photos to an unknown audience? 

Swiftly succeeding startup style

Clip of survey responses in spreadsheet
A few survey responses

1. Problem

Startup thinking encourages concise problem definitions for a clearly identified audience. The early wearable concept was very vague and needed more clarity to move ahead. We found answers by conducting guerrilla style user research in an online survey, followed by hitting the streets of San Diego nightlife. Talking to people about dating at 1am provided us with several memorable (and honest!) responses to understand current shortcomings that would eventually serve as fodder for new ideas.

Toq Watch Prototype

2. Prototype


A key pivot emerged when a team member suggested we tweak the way matches occur: allow women to see matches first before deciding to reciprocate. It was an ingenious solution that solved many of the initial hesitations my friends expressed about online dating. To help test the concept, two developers on the team hacked a Qualcomm Toq Smartwatch (2014 was before the Apple watch) to simulate how it might work.

Presenting to judges
Presenting to judges

3. Pitch


Through many hurried iterations, we put together a 5-minute pitch presenting our journey to the final solution. The idea actually resonated with the audience and judges, and secured first place in the competition. Looking back that was just the very tip of the startup iceberg.

Designing for watches…


…nobody owns. The original concept focused on a “wearable device” which eventually became synonymous with a smartwatch. The reality of the smartwatch demographic told us that market would be way too narrow and at the time, limited in gender options. The idea eventually evolved to work primarily as an app synced to a watch for additional functionality (similar to the way an Apple watch works now).

Two qualcomm smart watches
Renderings on the Toq Watch

Designing a mobile app flow


As the design shifted to exist primarily on a mobile app, I put together a user flow charting the path of setting up one’s profile and receiving a match or “lovebuzz”. I followed Signal V. Noise shorthand on design UI flows, to communicate what the user sees (in the box) with possible actions underneath.  Designing a digital product which aims to connect people face-to-face raised a lot of interesting questions such as:

  • How can we ease the actual meeting moment? Will it be awkward?
  • How would this work in a crowded room with multiple buzzes?
  • Can we maintain user safety when meeting in close physical proximity?
  • What is the appropriate distance for acknowledging someone?
Lovebuzz User Flow
Sample user flow when receiving a match

High fidelity prototypes


After hammering out the interaction details, I created an InVision prototype to simulate the app experience. The prototype helped communicate ideas with the team and figure out which features to prioritize.

Lovebuzz Sign In
A sign in screen
Alert screen example
Receiving an alert
Meeting with your match
Meeting with your match

Beyond pixel perfect design


LoveBuzz matured tremendously with the guidance of the Startup Leadership Program. Beyond getting comfortable with Lean Startup methodologies, I also gained valuable knowledge in business topics such as target markets, financial models, business models, funding, legal implications and business growth. While Lovebuzz was ultimately put on the shelf for a number of reasons, I learned a vastly different approach to “pixel perfect” design that helps me frame design work in a much more comprehensive, enterprising way.

LoveBuzz business model canvas
An early iteration through the business model canvas.