Wandure-ing for love

Posted on Friday, February 14, 2020

Ismail Benmbarek and Ali Kazal, Co-founders of Wandure

Ismail Benmbarek and Ali Kazal, co-founders of the Wandure app

Being an entrepreneur is a lot like being a hopeless romantic—you have to persevere and keep an open mind. Like dating, starting a new business is always a risk; it could fail miserably, or it could rock your world!

Entrepreneurs Ismail Benmbarek and Ali Kazal, recent graduates from the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Engineering, are all too familiar with this.

In 2017, the young alumni created Wandure, an app that initially helped locals find a travel partner. Soon, though, they realized that it was being used for much more than that.

After doing some research and examining user feedback and reviews, Benmbarek and Kazal, along with their CCO Chelsea Sauvé, decided to transform the travel app into — you guessed it — a dating app! One that would stand out from the rest.

Most dating-app users today engage in serial swiping, often defined as swiping with no intention of creating a meaningful connection. This has sadly become part of many people’s day-to-day routine.

Looking to break this habit, the young entrepreneurs decided to inject a human interaction element to their app. Users who are matched go out on an actual date that is planned by Wandure.

Ali Kazal, Chelsea Sauvé and Ismail Benmbarek

Ali Kazal, Chelsea Sauvé (CCO) and Ismail Benmbarek

Dates = more connection?

Through their research, Benmbarek and Kazal discovered that the Wandure-planned dates allow people to have a much better time while getting to know each other. Plus, there’s a greater chance of future dates after people do activities they enjoy together, rather than chatting through an app.

Not only does Wandure decrease the rate of dead-end conversations, but it allows people to be bold and try new things in Ottawa with a potential partner.

From a long list of date ideas, Wandure's most popular date in Ottawa is a mug-decorating class, followed by museum dates and cooking classes.

Wandure customizes dates to reflect users’ common interests and plans outings based on user availability and a predetermined budget.

Ismail Benmbarek and Ali Kazal each hold a cat in their hands.

From left: Ismail Benmbarek and Epona, Ali Kazal and Roach

The switch from travel to dating

When asked why they made the switch from travel to dating, they explained that people using the initial version of Wandure were already treating it as a dating app because of its “travel buddy” feature. They were also using the “experience” feature from the initial version for date ideas.

“We noticed that the majority of the matches in traditional dating tools don’t lead to actual face-to-face meetings,” says Ismail Benmbarek. “So, we created an app that actually helps enhance human connections.”

With an app that removes the guesswork, it really helps take the edge off dating!

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