iSchool alum Zach Schleien is the Co-Founder and CEO of Filteroff, a video speed-dating app launched in February of 2020 that strives to make the online dating experience more authentic for its users. Another Syracuse University alumni, Brian Weinreich, is the other Co-Founder.
During Schleien’s time at Syracuse, he was a self-proclaimed avid online dater, but eventually became tired of the endless swiping and lack of connection between users. In an attempt to create more meaningful connections, Schleien began asking his dates to video chat.
“The dates that agreed to meet made all the difference in the world, just to see what they looked like and see if we have chemistry. I realized after the first video date that this was going to be the future of online dating,” said Schleien.
Filteroff works by asking users a series of questions to help pair them with potential matches. Then, users can attend virtual speed-dating events based on their location that typically have 400-600 attendees. Attendees of the online dating event will video chat 10 curated dates for 3-5 minutes and then decide if they want to continue messaging or video chatting.
Due to Filteroff’s launch shortly before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, video dating became more normalized as people turned online to connect with others. “Everyone started using video, whether it was on Facetime with friends and loved ones or Zoom for work,” said Schleien. “Then, going on a video date really was no big deal. People got used to video dating and now it’s just the norm. Most people now prefer to video chat before meeting up in-person.”
Since its launch, there have been multiple marriages due to couples meeting on Filterff and Schleien continues to hear stories of couples meeting on the app, “I really do want to create the app that facilitates human connection. I expect a ton more marriages, but it’s just the start.”
Schleien believes Filteroff will continue to grow because people are tired of endless swiping and meaningless connections, the hallmark of other dating apps that allow users to judge based only on profiles and photos. Filteroff also recently began hosting in-person dating events by partnering with different communities.
In connection to the iSchool, Schleien graduated with a Master’s in Information Management and Data Science in 2015 as a Kauffman Entrepreneurship Engagement Fellow. Schleien decided to go back to school after graduating from Syracuse in 2012 with a major in History and a minor in Marketing, “I really fell in love with building start-ups and totally did a 180 in my career. I wanted to run tech companies and be entrepreneurial.”
Before founding FilterOff, Schleien founded a number of start-ups across different industries. While in the iSchool, Schleien started LIFT Protein Muffins, a paleo muffin company, with his mom. After graduating, Schleien also started 18Percent, an online mental health community offering peer to peer support that had a total of 17,700 members.
In addition to working at 18Percent, Schleien also secured a job at Johnson & Johnson in the IT Leadership Development Program. Schleien stayed at Johnson & Johnson for almost 6 years before leaving in 2021 after receiving $2.4M of funding for Filteroff, of which $2M was raised from Anheuser-Busch, ZX Ventures.
Schleien encourages current students interested in entrepreneurial endeavors to just start. “It’s really just taking your passion and starting,” said Schleien. “It can be as simple as a blog. It doesn’t have to be a billion dollar company, it can be a small project that’s just for fun. I’ve learned a lot of my skills by doing these side projects.”
For more information about Filteroff, visit the website: https://www.getfilteroff.com/