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Launch HN: Muzmatch (YC S17) – A place where 400M single Muslims can meet
147 points by brod_ie on Aug 8, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 116 comments
Hey HN!

Ryan and Shaz here. We’re building muzmatch (https://muzmatch.com), an app that helps single Muslims meet their partner. We refer to ourselves as a dating app largely for SEO but the reality is our users don’t tend to date, they marry!

Marriage is central to many Muslims’ upbringings and ethnic, family, and religious pressures make it a difficult search. The casual Western apps don’t cater for this market and the existing Islam-specific offerings are outdated, ineffective websites.

As a practising Muslim, Shaz experienced this problem firsthand. He quit a 10 year career in banking to write and release an MVP back in April ’15. With promising traction, he found me (Ryan) on LinkedIn in the then New Year. It was clear it could be a massive opportunity but I believed it needed to broaden its appeal (then it was as an ultra serious marriage service) and modernise its branding/marketing to position it for the new generation: this seemed like a great challenge!

We’ve tried to build a product that feels fun and light but respects our demographic’s culture and sensibilities, being halal is essential. Some unique features:

- Chaperones: In keeping with Islamic tradition, users can opt to have a “Wali” present in their conversations - Full privacy: Users can blur their photos and use a nickname to remain anonymous to friends and family - Fully verified: All manually approved, Selfie, GPS, and SMS verified users - Relevant: Profile information that matters to many in their search, like Islamic, sect, and ethnicity filters

We’re now ~2 years in with 200,000 users and are thrilled to have helped over 6,000 find their partner.

We’d love to hear your feedback and answer any questions!

My wife is a user of this app (she has used to to help her sisters look for husbands) and so far I think it's a good product. You were wise to include the wali/chaperone option because that is clearly a key feature for many sisters.

She always mentions how she's puzzled over the "Always pray / sometimes pray / never pray" options under religious practice. Can you explain your thought process in coming up with those options?

I want to say that I can see why your app would be a tremendous challenge from a product development standpoint. What you have as a user base in America are basically a mix of many different immigrant cultures that each have their own idea of Islamic traditional marriage customs - Somalian vs. Arab vs. Indopak vs. West African vs. Cham vs. vs. vs..., as well as clashes between youth & elder viewpoints, as well as a large indigenous (I use the term loosely - we're all immigrants to an extent) American Muslim population as well (something that foreigners usually are shocked to hear - Americans becoming Muslim?! What!!). Do your research well & don't give up

I ask Allah to guide you to a product that is beneficial for the Muslims - and also materially successful!

Edit: Also, my email address was used at one point as the "wali" contact but I stopped getting digest emails from the conversations inexplicably. You may need tighter QA around that pipeline

Very happy to hear that and thank you

Absolutely it's a challenge and we're aiming to be as inclusive as possible

Interesting, if you email me (ryan@muzmatch.com) I can look into this further for you

Thanks again

Thanks. I think she's taking a break from the searching for now but I'll save your email address in case it happens again.

Commenting on the wali/chaperone feature: I'm actually surprised that MuzMatch is the first network I've seen with support for unobtrusive third parties in conversations. I think there might be a general business opportunity there if they execute the limited dating application well. CCing/BCCing in a business setting is a limited communication management tool vulnerable to political distractions. Idling in chat is unproductive.


Don't get me started on email..!

Great market. You should look for some help with the copy writing. I had to read some sentences twice.

Dating apps right now feel a little like pre-Facebook social networks. There is one for every niche.

I wonder why there isn't a platform for single people where dating companies are just apps on top of the platform. Seems like bad user experience that a user needs to maintain multiple accounts.

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great idea but I think the really big company in this space will be a platform for single people.

Different dating apps cater to different mindsets towards dating. Some ban pictures in favor of words; while others only work if you have great pictures; then others want one to mention their annual income ranges.

The groups on Facebook are very different but it still works. You should be able to build most things on top of the platform. Flickr was the social network for photographers but most photographers post on Facebook now.

Sharing photos is easier on facebook because all of your friends are connected. Quality is worse but speed and discovery are easier.

Strangers don't belong in that model because they are not friends. Most people want to keep strangers away from your real life until they become friends so having a third party site keeps that experience away from preying eyes. Once a couple is formed they will connect over facebook and start sharing their experiences.

I think the product's design is pretty different though. If you want only text as well as photo-centric options, that's hard to design. Also, if you want people to spend 2 minutes reading a profile before deciding if it's someone they want to "like" or message, that use case needs to be designed very differently than a use case where a user wants to decide in 3 seconds if the other person is cute enough to "like".

You might be right though, it might consolidate in the future if people figure out really good interfaces that make it work well for many use cases.

Ehh, most photographers advertise on Facebook (for free, via postings on a page), while pushing their users to other sites to actually browse their content. Basically, they use Facebook as a glorified RSS feed for their external site.

allowing you to connect via FB and sign up for 3rd party services is essentially that. it's questionable how much integration with FB is valuable, considering people are justifiably wary about what they want to do publicly and privately, and FB privacy settings can change and are confusing to many.

Interesting concept, the key difference with specific niche apps is the intent of the user when signing up

We're solving for very specific requirements, aside from the benefit of shared identity I think it'd be a lot harder to keep the product free of feature creep and still appeal to all

Thanks for the kind words

You mean facebook?

This is a good point! Most dating apps have Facebook login and grab a bunch of information from Facebook. Maybe this platform for single people grabs data from Facebook.

I like the idea of having LinkedIn and not just adding all my work contacts on Facebook. I want to be sure that the information I share on the dating platform and Facebook don't mix too easily. Curating my Facebook data once when signing up to a dating app is fine.

Facebook doesn't have open APIs and blatantly opposes non-advertising extensions

Facebook login works fairly well to grab data once.

How many marriages have happened through your app our of interest?

We've had 600 confirmed weddings and 6,000 couples leave after finding each other within the app

We think the former is likely higher too as many choose to keep it private

I'm not really sure how to ask this politely, but have there also been troubles like already married people using the app or something?

So if people leave after finding each other but don't get married wouldn't that technically be dating?

We see dating to be non-exclusive where as these 6,000 couples are in committed relationships

So if people use your app until they agree to be in an exclusive relationship aren't they "dating" until then?

Could be engaged..?

I think I remember, something like 6000, right?

Close! 6,000 couples have met here and left muzmatch with 600 now confirmed to be married

The HN description says: "users can opt to have a “Wali” present in their conversations "

The site says: _Women_ can include a guardian in their conversation for extra peace of mind.

Which is correct?

The chaperone feature is coming to both genders in the next major version. Historically it was just for women as we used to refer to it as a "Wali" which Islamically is only for this sex

As long as some 'users' are also 'women' both can be correct at the same time. I don't necessarily see a conflict between the two statements! :D

Can you explain, how you make money? In the play store there are some bad reviews about in-app purchases. What is your pricing and what do you price for? Thanks

We monetised through a mix of In App Purchases for products like Extra Swipes (see more profiles daily) and Instant Match (guaranteed to be seen to a soecified user) as well as a Premium subscription offering that includes some supplemental features as well as bundles of the IAPs. People don't always like the realities of the app economy but in truth we didn't monetise anything that was previously free. The free product is still as functional as ever. We modify pricing from time to time, you can see these in-app and in-stores, thanks.

This looks like a really good idea. I wonder if there is a wider opportunity beyond the Muslim-specific context for some kind of Anti-Tinder.

Out of curiosity, how does "all profiles being verified manually" scale?

Thank you

It definitely keeps us busy 24/7 but we've built some internal tools to make this as quick and efficient as possible

We're definitely nearing the point of needing a dedicated Community Manager to take over this function

Pretty cool guys. I can see from the play store comments that your users love the app. Best wishes.

Whats 'Halal, free, and fun'?

Whats you tech stack like?

Thank you!

Halal being "ok" Islamically, free as the old competition are very expensive, and fun so the process sounds noncommittal (many are put off by fearing being rushed into something they're not necessarily ready for)

It's a LEMP stack heavily utilising Memcached for performance and XMPP for real time functionality

How have you initially launched it so hat it got traction? Sending mails to your friends? at an event? posting in FB group?

If you plan to use NodeJS and ReactJS in future - please feel free to reach out (email under profile section). I am a freelance consultant and have built and launched my own products (end to end). They are not monetizing and I freelance currently.

A few harsh comments in play store are interesting too :p

and many downvotes are because there are in-app purchases. Seems to be quite a problem with play store. They should have an algorithm or UX flow to weed out such reviews.

I know right! We began monetising in March but our existing features remained completely free, you wouldn't think that from the reviews though

And what is the reason for not having a teaser video? I hear they improve the download rates.

Absolutely, look out for one in 3.5

I'm annoyed that you came in, advertised your product, took up front page space, and didn't bother to answer any of the interesting questions. I feel as if you are taking from the community and not giving back.

Sorry to hear that, I thought I chimed in on most topics! All hands on deck for demo day, having another read through now

Your hero div has some weird overlap issues in smaller screen heights http://imgur.com/a/yxyHr

Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I never foresaw such a small vertical to horizontal ratio screen!

Nice service!

Is the "Wali" a human being? If yes, how will that scale?

It'll be a verified email address that the member selects, to whom the chat transcripts are sent. [1]

> How do I include a Wali or Guardian on muzmatch?

> We want muzmatch to be a Halal and safe place for all our members to find their partner.

> Women can enter a Wali or Guardian's email address in Menu → Settings to give them extra peace of mind.

> Once their email has been confirmed they’ll receive weekly transcripts of your Chats on muzmatch.

[1]: https://muzmatch.com/faq/how-do-i-include-a-wali-or-guardian...

Thanks, I love seeing the FAQ being used! You can probably tell this is our own custom tool, we want to build more of a community around product Q&A and support in the future.

Interesting that you seem to have gained traction even though your competition has been around for 10 years or more.

Good luck!

Thank you! The older the company (typically) the harder and slower it is to innovate, we think they've completely missed to opportunities smartphone present.

How does the Wali part work? do you employ conversation reviewers? Does one dater recruit an outside person?

Who did your icon illustrations? They're great!

Thanks, I do all of our design but I can't take credit for these other than some colouring and minor alterations, they're from a generic set I bought a while back

In terms of gender, I am fluid. Does muzmatch have plans to support additional gender options? The current format only allows "Male" or "Female".

Does the religion allow for this? Not sure that it does.

I don't think this is the place for a discussion on theology. Might I suggest a slightly different question: do gay and gender fluid Muslims exist? The answer is clearly yes. One need not go far to see stories of extremist groups throwing them off of buildings for being so.

So, this leads to my original question of whether the product will enable this. I'd hate (probably too strong of a word) to see a product get awesome HN coverage that actively works against ('discriminate') LGBTQX folks.

@abbasiddartha > beat me to it. I agree.

They are serving a narrow niche. I don't think you can term that discrimination.

Perhaps if You see a business opportunity you could create an app that serves the Muslim LGBTQX community?

If I create an app that delivers cup cakes and cakes to people having weddings - but only to people who have "straight" marriages, would this be a "narrow niche" and "business opportunity", or would I have the shit sued out of me?

I don't think that is a fair comparison.

A dating service serving a niche can help people pre-filter their matches. For example someone of higher education or earning might want to only find people of similar education. It would be discrimination to prevent people of lower education from purchasing from a cup cake delivery service. But not to filter them from a dating service.

As I understand it there are dating services that specialise in matching non straight couples. Is this discrimination against straight people?

You can have a dating app which uses filters and so forth to find your mate. RESTRICTING access (as opposed to a search filter) based on race, gender, etc. is pretty damn iffy. Especially when the app is owned by a company. Has this been tested in the courts yet? How is a digital "filter" (in the way that you are using the word) any different than a physical "filter" beginning at the entrance of my cake shop?

In any case, brod_ie has said "We're supportive of this and is definitely on our radar reply", so I'm sufficiently satisfied! ^.^

I think it depends on your interpretation, western Muslims however are more accepting of LGBT in general.

I think the real question is whether the app is intended for people who are currently practicing muslims or people who were brought up muslim. There's many non practicing Muslims who keep the Islamic morality like former christians and jews do.

There are many things in today's world that religion doesn't allow, all religions not just Islam. The app is not trying to enforce a religious practice only connect two people of the same faith. Just like other date sites like compatiblepartners.net, a gay Christian dating site.

We're supportive of this and is definitely on our radar

Yeah, this should be an option

> Chaperones: In keeping with Islamic tradition, users can opt to have a “Wali” present in their conversations

Sounds like a pretty unique feature in the world of chat apps. Were there any technical difficulties in implementing that?

Great question. Not particularly as the current Chaperone system works as an email digest of conversations sent to your confirmed guardian. In the future we want to explore adding full muzmatch account functionality here so the chaperone can sign into the native apps and view conversations in a more realtime manor.

Would be interested in your relaunch 2015+ - how have it got traction? Was it rebranding? How have you got the initial traction? Sending emails to closed real world community? Postings on FB?

Link for the lazy: https://muzmatch.com

Added above. Thanks!


There are plenty of apps for Christians, as for all other kinds of specialized markets.

When you say 'white Christians' you're changing the subject in a particularly trollish way. Please don't comment like that here.

If you made an app just for white Christians, as a non-white non-Christian I'd be fine with it because it saves me from having to a) look at their profile, b) potentially get matched up with them, and c) waste my time. Chances are they want someone who shares a lot of their same beliefs and more importantly want someone faithful to God.

Like it or not, people have preferences.

A few year ago, I joined Match. You know how many of my 'matches' explicitly stated they don't want to date my ethnicity and only want to date their own? A lot.

Then I joined CoffeeMeetsBagel. And while I never explicitly mentioned a preferred ethnicity, they kept matching me up with women of my own ethnicity despite the fact that 50% of the people in my city are not my ethnicity. Again, how much of that is women explicitly stating they don't want to be matched up to men of my ethnicity?

My point is that even though some apps have a generalized population, the idea of intermingling is a minority. In the U.S. I think interracial marriages are like 10% of all total marriages. And religion has way more differences in terms of life style and philosophy than ethnicity.

> Why do you want to keep people from spedific religions stick together? It's for a society always better if groups mix instead of this ghettoization. I know that still many try to stay with their folks which is ok but why to enforce it?

They are not forcing anyone to do anything. They are giving people an option.

If a Muslim wants to marry another Muslim, and this helps them accomplish that better than Tinder or any other apps, that's great. Why is that such a problem for you? Why do you even suppose it's any of your business?

Full disclosure: I am agnostic.

As I wrote: It strengthens and enforces typical stereotypes which don't make life easier for the target demo.

If anything that "strengthens and enforces typical stereotypes" is a bad thing, I should've been banned from attending mathlete competitions or LAN parties. Those definitely reinforced stereotypes and made some aspects of my life harder. :]

It's a free world dude.

this argument might hold water if there weren't a preexisting plethora of other dating sites/apps that cater to all kinds of other groups.

this app/site is a safe ("halal") place for a _self-selecting_ group to congregate. how can you possibly have an issue with that? the people who explicitly want to find a muslim spouse can use this site, the people who don't particularly care if their spouse is muslim will use some other one.

if you want to build that site (for people specifically trying to find a spouse instead of trying to have fun, but not explicitly for muslims), just do it and quit shitting on this site.

If you are choosing a life partner it makes sense to filter for religious beliefs because that is something you need to agree on to raise children together

There are lots of dating services for Christians only, that's not new.

Just because people are super religious doesn't mean they are resistant to all types of change. Not sure what you mean by "super religious" but I know a lot of people personally who have found this app useful who are practicing Islam in a traditional way



An important point indeed regarding isolation but just in case you don't know, Islam prevents muslim women from marrying non muslims and I guess this is the main issue. For men, it's fine to marry Christian or Jewish woman.

i think its fine for men if the wife joins Islam or at the least the children are brought up in the islamic faith.

Yes, other apps have ethnicity filters. Grindr, for one.

> The two biggest problems (Europe has) with the integration of Muslims in our society are our societies prejudice and the forming of parallel society by the immigrants, leaving them isolated from the greater society they are supposed to join.

Why are Muslims integrating well in US and Canada, but not Europe? Perhaps it has more to do with bigotry and lack of opportunity afforded to them rather than refusal to integrate.

> After all, this app could be seen as reinforcement of the stereotype that Muslims do not want to mix with non-Muslims.

A Muslim wanting to marry another Muslim means they don't want to mix with non-Muslims?

> Do other dating apps have ethnicity filters, too?

Are people not allowed to have preferences? Muslims are a very diverse group and this sounds like a feature many would want.

Immigration in the US and Canada works very differently than in Europe. Our immigration mostly comes from refugees, not carefully selected people with good education like in the US. In Germany, we also took in about one million people in a single year, which is not exactly something anyone knows how to handle right. And we are not doing a good job I think.

Also, I included prejudice in my first sentence. I never said anything putting the blame solely on the immigrants. But I also live in country where some immigrants managed to not learn the language even after 30, 40 years. The US and Canada doesn't even allow people in unless they prove command of language.

Also, none of my questions were meant to pass ultimate judgement.

Muslims wanting to marry Muslims doesn't mean anything much. But I think it's fair to bring up the point and think about how this relates to white people opposing mixed-race marriage.

I honestly don't have a problem with this app, but there are aspects that can be problematic. That's why I'm playing devil's advocate to extract more information. And given the LGTB-positive answer of one of the founders to another question here, I'm basically already convinced that they are doing the right things.

Now, I won't deny that there is subconscious bias at play and there is a good chance that I wouldn't have seen any problems if it was different kind of group-specific app.


We found the common terminology is Muslim dating even though the intent is very different, kind of like how the smartphone is simply called "phone" but isn't (largely) used for that purpose

All of those features are optional, to most it's very much fun and light

The options are available. You are not forced to use them. This way, the app can be used by people of different cultures and beliefs.

I understand that the features are optional but the copy reads as stating the app is fun and light and then doesn't go on to list any of the features that make it "fun and light."

There is a colon at the end of the third to last sentence that uses the phrase "fun and light" but then those optional features in the hyphenated list that follows are things that most adults don't generally associate with lightheartedness or fun.

Perhaps you could describe what the light and fun elements of your app are so as to provide contrast to those other optional restrictive and conservative features?


Religious flamewar, which this counts as, is always off topic and particularly not allowed on Hacker News. Nothing good can, or ever does, come of it. So would you please not post like this again?

I respect your work as a moderator dang, but when it has a healthy amount of upvotes and is just bluntly stating that religion is not going to be around in the future, I find that pretty sad that it's being censored. I did not speak in a respectful manner towards religion, granted, which I don't feel great about, but at the same time I don't really believe religious institutions deserve our respect because of the opportunity costs I listed. Is this view really 'starting a flamewar'? Would someone like Richard Dawkins or really even any of the primary authors of the French Enlightenment be allowed to participate on HN?

Your views against religion seem as dogmatic as any religious views I've heard.

You say you worry about religion dividing us but use language aimed to offend people of all faiths. Many of those people would offer you more respect than your offering them.

And many would not? Do people who don't like religious institutions have an obligation to be more respectful than the average person or else their arguments are invalid?

I think they have exactly the same obligation to be respectful. I'm religious, but if this had been a thread about an atheist dating site I wouldn't have commented like you did, and if another religious person did I'd have been just as critical of them.

You are correct many would not, but you get to choose what group you emulate. Personally I'd prefer to be respectful where possible.

And no being disrespectful doesn't invalidate your argument. But it does cause division, something you didn't seem to want.

I used to agree with you, then I read sapiens and it introduced me into the importance of religion in human development and society.

That's funny because if you look at my recent past comments, one is a review on Sapiens. It's a very preachy low-citation work whose interesting parts are the early chapters, but which you would already know the content of if you had taken a college anthropology class.

To address your argument, there is no reason to emulate our pre-historical past, if we even could.

  >> "we now know"
That's what "they" say as well. There isn't a thing such as universal truth, because so much depends on the point of view.

Also, you can simply move magical people from the sky further into the stars.

And did you know that Einstein was a believer? That helped me to cross the threshold of tolerance.

Nobody cares about your opinion on religions. HN is not the place for this.

> Sorry to be preachy

Then don't.


Religious flamewar is not allowed on HN, and this is one of the worst examples I've ever seen. If you post like this again, we will ban you.

you could be more respectful

That comment made me sad. It was deleted before i could reply to it. So much sweeping hate and judgement.


We've banned this account for violating the guidelines.


Comments like this do not belong on HN. Please discuss constructively.

Seriously? Ugh. There's no need to be like this.

Please refrain from being an asshole.


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