crowded party
Bubby’s launch party in San Francisco, Dec. 2015

Looking for love in the tribe? Bubby app ready to help

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Best friends Stephanie Volftsun, Sarah Persitz and Jordan Klein would often lament their dating lives. They’d had their share of love and heartbreak, and were tired of the online dating scene.

Most dating apps are about “swiping and matching” and “the addictive thrill” of what comes next, Persitz said. She was more concerned about meeting a quality person who she would enjoy spending time with offline.

Inspired by the bubbes and yentas in their own lives, the three San Francisco residents decided to join forces and create a dating app that they themselves would want to use.

Their idea: Bring old-school matchmaking to the online dating platform, with a focus “on the values that would make our bubbes proud: romance, partnership, chivalry and respect,” Persitz said.

Volftsun and Persitz seated together, smiling
Stephanie Volftsun (left) and Sarah Persitz

Their professional backgrounds certainly helped. Volftsun, 27, was a co-founder of Knotch, a startup that measures the impact of branded content. Persitz, 31, is former San Francisco area director at AIPAC, and more recently worked with the American Jewish Committee. Klein, 28, is a UX designer and branding expert.

At Bubby, Volftsun provides the technical brains and Persitz handles the business side of the operation. Klein (who recently moved on to a new endeavor) managed the visual/creative end.

The trio first shared the concept of Bubby at a party in December 2015, and the feedback was encouraging, according to Persitz.

Two months later Volftsun and Persitz sat in Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco and manually sent out over 250 invites for people to join Bubby’s first test round.

Fast forward a year, and Bubby now has 1,000 applicants waiting to be approved for membership.

Though the world of online dating is becoming a crowded field, Bubby’s co-founders believe they have found their niche. Rather than spend hours searching through online profiles, clients let Bubby do the initial selecting. And rather than overwhelming users with too many choices, it provides carefully selected matches, Persitz explained. It’s the only dating app, she said, that has a “bubbe” on call for a consultation.

How does it all work? First, interested clients send a simple text message to the website, Bubby follows up with some basic questions. Then the Bubby team reviews each profile to see if the applicant is a good fit for the program. If approved, Bubby gets to know you on a deeper level in order to find the best matches.

For a monthly fee of $36, Bubby will contact you with up to one match daily (based upon mutual interest). Once you’ve been on a date, Bubby follows up — and may even give you some dating advice based on your feedback.

It’s the only dating app that has a ‘bubbe’ on call for a consultation.

The beauty behind Bubby, according to Persitz, is the combination of human interaction, sophisticated algorithms and, of course, emotional and physical chemistry.

Alex, 32, a current client who works in real estate, likes Bubby precisely because “it’s a more custom-tailored approach to matchmaking. The emphasis is on quality matches, not quantity. I like that there are not infinite choices,” he said.

Indeed, Bubby is more than a dating app, Persitz said. It’s about “building a community of young adults who share Jewish values, culture and tradition.”

Aimed at 20- and 30-somethings, Bubby’s ideal clients are “stealth Jews,” she said, “who love a good Passover seder, and bagels and lox, but are probably not going to show up at the next synagogue singles event.

“They are at the forefront of their fields, innovating and finding ways to change the world and inspire their generation.”

Whether “they wear Judaism on their sleeve,” or not, she added, “ultimately they are inspired to connect to that sense of Jewishness in a way that is largely unmet by the traditional spaces.”

To that end, Bubby helps facilitate face-to-face encounters by hosting events, such as Shabbat dinner, for its base of users, along with friends and supporters.

“In many ways, Shabbat is all about love — taking time from the week to be with the people you care about — for us and our friends, and the people we will soon call new friends, to just be present, connect and have a fabulous meal together.”

Some long-lasting love connections have already been made through Bubby, and for Persitz and Volftsun, that’s something to kvell about.

Julie Levine

Julie Levine is a writer who lives in San Francisco.