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'The Bachelor' host Chris Harrison on launching a dating app

June 20, 2013|By Amy Kaufman
  • "The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison and creator Mike Fleiss worked with Silicon Valley notables to develop the dating app At First Sight, shown on an iPhone.
"The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison and creator Mike Fleiss… (Perceptual Networks )

“The Bachelor” doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to forming lasting relationships. But show creator Mike Fleiss and host Chris Harrison are hoping that their new venture will inspire more meaningful love connections.

“The Bachelor” veterans on Wednesday unveiled At First Sight, a dating app aimed at helping singles connect through video profiles. The app, available for free on iOS and Android, was developed by Perceptual Networks, a tech start-up whose investors include Silicon Valley notables such as PayPal founder Max Levchin and YouTube co-founder Steve Chen.

Users of the app are asked to post an introductory video and then add follow-up clips answering more specific queries, such as, "What is the scariest thing you’ve ever been through?" or "What is the most fun thing you’ve done lately?"

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Harrison, 41, who recently divorced his wife of 18 years, said At First Sight stemmed from both his personal experience and his work helping to cast people for “The Bachelor” franchise.

We spoke to the host about his new project, the world of online dating and -- yes, his own At First Sight profile.

Why create a dating app when there are already so many online dating sites out there?

Mike and I have been talking about this for about 10 years. For a while, we thought about getting involved with an existing site, but the more we looked into them, we realized how antiquated they were. The way we cast “The Bachelor” has really been a study in human behavior. And we’d never cast someone based off of an old, Photoshopped picture from 18 years ago, a bio and a psych evaluation.

The backers of this app look like they’re some pretty serious tech titans. How did you team up?

Through Mike, we met these guys who are just ridiculous big wigs in Silicon Valley. We know the love game, and they know the tech game. Working with these brainiacs has been so cool to watch, and so out of my comfort zone from where I usually do business.

Did you and Mike put up your own money to help make the app a reality?

We are fully vested in this.

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The app is free right now. How are you going to make your money back?

I don’t know if we will eventually charge. We’re in a beta phase right now. If millions of people are downloading this eventually, there’s obviously ad space, so there will be revenue and cash flowing from other areas. Like, if Ryan Gosling is on here, and every woman wants to get to him -- there may be a way to pay to send him a virtual bouquet or something to make you stick out.

You recently got divorced. How has the dating world been for you?

You know, a lot of this was inspired by where I am right now -- trying to get back out there and realizing that most of my good friends are married with kids. I’m having to meet new people and get back out there. So I kind of put my own pain and misery into the thought process, like, how do I connect with people?

But would you really make a profile on At First Sight? You’re a public figure.

A lot of times, celebrities -- or fascinating, beautiful men or women who have a lot to offer -- say they get inundated with 50,000 messages on dating sites and they run off. So we’ve put safety measures into the app which only allow you to receive a certain number of hits per day.

OK, so you do have a profile?

Yes. I’m in New York with my daughter right now, so I haven’t filled out all of my stuff yet. But I don’t see why not. I meet people all the time from different walks of life. I feel completely secure. If I sat there and saw your video and it intrigued me, after watching four or five more videos I would totally be interested in messaging you.

Do you think rejects from past “Bachelor” seasons will sign up?

Totally. Sarah Herron from Sean’s season just tweeted me asking if they need a spokesmodel! Maybe we’ll even be able to cast the show from the app in the future, if there are people who really blow us away.


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