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With mobile dating apps on the rise, a new company is offering a new take on the nature of creating fast relationships by encouraging members to involve family and friends in the process.

MiXOXO developed an app called XOXO to combine social networking and dating services by allowing members to include email addresses for people to include in their group before entering potential partner preferences.  It has been available since April 9.

The app takes a step away from the hookup culture behind other popular dating apps. Ethan Weinstein, CEO , said he hopes it will allow users to learn more information about both new and current friends.

One flaw of dating apps is not having a good algorithm that calculates a match-making function using a specific process, he said. MiXOXO created an algorithm based on 12 questions to group users based on compatibility.

“We have made the experience of meeting people fun and interactive, and the 12 questions make it as real life as possible,” Weinstein said.

The app also moves away from using GPS locator information and group users in larger regions to introduce them to people outside of their immediate area.

Kyle Miller, a 19-year-old UF finance freshman, said that the app is a good innovation of the traditional dating app. Adding social networking is a good idea to attract more users. 

“I’ve always found it easier to meet people when I have one or two friends around,” Miller said.

While the app may offer safety in numbers, some people may still be turned off due to the reputation of dating apps. Itarah Godbolt, a 21-year-old dance senior at UF, is skeptical about the safety of possible interactions.

“I find dating apps creepy because I feel they have a potential to be dangerous,” she said.

While adding social media wouldn’t change her views, the company is using a creative marketing strategy, she said.

“They are doing something a little bit different. They are tapping into the trend of social media and speaking to their audience.”

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It takes less than 30 seconds to create a profile on the app, and it’s open for people of all ages, sexual orientations and relationship statuses to use.  The app only has a few hundred users so far, but Weinstein hopes it will become an international product.

To access MiXOXO’s app for free, download it from the app store and enter the code “XO” during the sign-up process. Each member you sign up with will receive his or her own code offering a discount on the typical membership plan.  Prices range from $8.33 to $39.99 per month, depending on the plan’s length and how many members you sign up.

[A version of this story ran on page 11 on 6/19/2014 under the headline "MiXOXO adds to the dating app mix"]

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