Q&A with Andrew Lynch and Kiril Dobrev: Founders of Weaver Social Club

We chatted to the innovators of Cape Town’s group-based meet-up site on their six-month anniversary 

In a world where the majority of our social interactions take place online, it only makes sense to want to turn to technology when looking to make new acquaintances. Enter Weaver, a social club started by young entrepreneurs Andrew Lynch and Kiril Dobrev in June 2013 that works by setting up two groups of friends – three guys and three girls – on a fun evening out on the town.   

Rather than adopting the conventional online one-on-one matchmaking formula, Weaver requires users to round up two of their best wingmen/women for a meet-up with another crew at a pre-designated watering hole. You use your Facebook profiles to sign-up so Andrew and Kiril can get a better idea of the jols you dig and who you’d dig them with. In no time, you’ll be laughing out loud in real life with new friends and, perhaps, even a new special someone, instead of spending another night behind a computer typing disingenuous LOLs.

The beauty of Weaver is that it’s a dual-function service – if you’re looking to find a romantic connection, you can, or if you’re only trying to expand your social circle, it’s just right for that too.

Since it’s been six months since the launch of this online match-up site, we decided to check in with the founding duo, who have since expanded their reach to include users in Johannesburg and soon, Pretoria, Durban and even Nairobi, Kenya. Read on to see what half a year of Weaving in the Mother City has been like.   

Q&A WITH ANDREW LYNCH AND KIRIL DOBREV: FOUNDERS OF WEAVER ONLINE SOCIAL CLUB

You guys actually started Weaver because you were new in Cape Town and looking to meet people. Have you Weaved yourselves?

Kiril: Of course!

Andrew: We’ve been on a couple of Weavers because we obviously wanted to test out the experience. We had a great night. In fact, we came to Neighbourhood and stumbled home at three in the morning...

K: ...on a work night. We ended up bar hopping.

And did you have any luck?

K: Oh, we made good friends.

A: *LAUGHS A LITTLE TOO LOUDLY*

Why did you choose to go with the wingman/woman format?

K: [With regular online dating] You don’t know who you’re going to meet, but when you’re going with your friends to a public place, you obviously feel a little more confident doing that. We thought about it a lot, and we remembered back in the day, when you’d go on a first date, one on one, there would be lots of small talk and lots of awkwardness. So by having friends there, you’re a lot more at ease. And also, if you don’t really click or there’s no chemistry – although we haven’t had that many mediocre matches – you’ve at least shared a drink with your friends.

A: You can have a wild girls’ night out.

K: Plus, you can’t really lie. I mean, if you’re with your friends, you can’t be like, ‘Ja, I’m a pro cricket player’. Your friends will be there to put you in your place.   

And who are the people that sign up for Weaver?

A: We’re focussed on young professionals, probably from the age when you’re leaving university up to 30. When we match you, we look at your education, attractiveness, interests...

K: Obviously, you fill out things like religious preference, racial and language preferences and things like that. There’s a whole lot that goes into it because every match is hand-picked.

So there’s actually a person behind it all?

A: Oh, there’s always a human saying yes, you guys can go out.

K: And that’s a thing that will never change. Obviously, we do a bit of number crunching to break down the users to potential matches, but then someone will literally sit there and spend quite a bit of time physically matching you and looking at those qualitative things. 

A: The thing is you can’t build computer algorithms to look at photos. So when we connect with your Facebook account on sign-in, we can look at your photos and things like that and figure out what type of person you are, who you like to hang around and what type of bars you like to go to. You can’t use an algorithm to do that.

K: And it’s not just deciding who to partner people with, it’s also deciding where to send them –estimating the vibe of both groups.  

A: That’s also part of our service. What we say is, “You meet the people you should, but don’t know...”

K:  “...and the parties that you haven’t been to but should.”

Six months down the line would you say that your mission has been a successful one so far?

K: We’re lucky because we’ve got loyal and loving users. We’ve set up a couple of relationships that we know of, including a personal friend of ours, and those people have emailed in with photos and stories of how it all happened. And people also feel inclined to write stories of things that they’ve done, like one group went and crashed the Loerie Awards after party.

A: No one’s been arrested yet though...

K: After people have gone out, we also like to check to see if they’ve become Facebook friends, and most of the time that does happen. So, ja, we’ve done our job. It’s not so much about romance; it’s about meeting new people...

A: And if there’s a bit of a spark, it’s a bit of a bonus.

And what would you tell someone going on their first Weaver?

A: Just be awesome, I guess.

K: Choose your wingmen and wingwomen wisely.

A: Not even that, just be willing to go out there and meet some cool people. Have another drink as well.

K: Ja, have another drink. And then the obvious one that we’ve picked up on is go on multiple Weavers. Go on as many as you can. If you’re looking for a certain someone, or whatever the case may be, chances are you might not find it on the first go, so we encourage our users to go again and again and again. We’ve got a lot of awesome people [for participants] to meet, and going once would only just scratch the surface of that.

Advice for wingpeople?

K: Just be willing to have fun. The groups that have enjoyed it the most are open-minded.

A: Ja, I don’t think we necessarily structure around a single person, so a whole group can just go out and have fun together. We’re essentially just trying to engineer an awesome night out.

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. Do you guys have anything special planned for the big day?

A: We definitely have some cool things in the works. Obviously, it’s a great time of the year to piggyback on people’s hatred of Valentine’s Day as well.

K: We’d like to organise a cool night for two or three groups to reward them for being valuable members. To say, “thanks guys; go and have a wild night”.

And as love gurus of sorts, what advice would you give to people going on big dates for Valentine’s Day?

A: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just be cool and have fun.

K: Don’t look at other couples with envy.

Ok, what if people aren’t convinced about Weaver? What would you say to the sceptics?

A: Essentially, it’s really safe. You get to go to a really cool venue and, if all else fails, you have a really cool night with your friends.

K: You have really little to lose, except maybe a hangover the next day, which just means you’ve had a good time. And it’s only R79.

A: And your first drink’s included so...

Anything else people should know?

A: Go on Weaver.

K: Ja, get Weaving.

HOW TO JOIN WEAVER

Apply at Joinweaver.com with your Facebook profile (don’t worry, the team will respect your privacy). When you’re ready to meet people, simply log on to the main site and request a Weaver. Grab your best guys and gals and, as it says on the site, “just put on some clean clothing and play nice.” Each meet-up costs R79p/p, which includes the first round of drinks (and it ensures that everyone shows up). Throughout the process you’ll have an appointed concierge who can answer any questions, give you the details of your date location and check in during the evening to make sure everything is going well.

By: Tshego Letsoalo

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Found your perfect match on Weaver?  Take it to the next level with these awesome ideas for dates in Cape Town.

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