Simplify date night in Toronto with AI: Introducing Tandem Experiences

Regular date nights are crucial for a healthy relationship, as they boost happiness and intimacy. But let's face it, planning a date can be challenging. That's where Tandem Experiences comes in with a much-needed solution - a social connection app that makes date planning easy.

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How does it work? Users answer a quick questionnaire to access curated local date ideas. The app recommends top experiences based on unique interests, streamlining planning and saving users hours. We interviewed Tandem Experiences’s co-founders, Mariel Marshall and Nadia Barbosa, at the Collision Conference 2023 in Toronto.

Two women in a black dress sitting side by side
Left to right: Nadia Barbosa, Mariel Marshall – Tandem Experiences founders

Meet the team

TE: Tandem Experiences is driven by a talented team. Timothy Cao, our Technical Lead, embraces challenges with emerging tech and math. Samantha Kaszas, Head of Curation, and Cassandra Sukraj, Design & Content Coordinator, partner with the community for top date guides.

 Leading Tandem Experiences are co-founders Mariel Marshall and Nadia Barbosa. Mariel’s impressive background of 15 years of audience experience and her applied technical background make her a recognized thought leader in AI within the arts and culture space. Complementing her strengths, Nadia brings extensive business strategy and marketing expertise from renowned food and beverage companies. Her credentials include an MBA and a post-graduate certificate in public relations.

The company’s network extends beyond our core team, with skilled contractors and an advisory team that contribute their expertise in partnership relationships, digital analytics, content management, artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship, and branding.

How did you identify the unique needs or gaps in the Toronto dating scene that your app could address?

TE: There are over 8,000 dating apps and websites globally. Talk about options! There’s no shortage of support to help people find love. But after swiping right and hitting it off online, what’s next?

 More resources are needed to nurture healthy relationships and provide support with date planning. This is significant because couples who invest time into their relationships and attend regular date nights (one-to-two nights per month) report feeling more connected, happier, and more sexually satisfied. Yes, you read that right.

From the first date to the 50th date, Tandem Experiences steps in with a much-needed solution.

Picture of a phone with a wallpaper of couple kissing
Tandem Experiences app

How did the idea for the dating app come about? What inspired the founders to create this app?

TE: We began building Tandem Experiences in 2021, but the inspiration for the idea originated over six years ago when Nadia was newly single and navigating the unfamiliar world of online dating.

Nadia: After going on several bad dates, I started losing faith in the process. My luck changed when a Bumble match spent the time and effort to plan a thoughtful and personalized date. Fast forward to today and we are now married. We continue to prioritize time together through weekly date nights. My husband recently told me he hopes we never stop dating!

What kind of market research did the startup conduct before launching the app?

TE: After engaging with over 400 Toronto singles and couples, a clear pattern emerged: date planning is challenging and time-consuming, feeling like a part-time job. The pressure to impress, especially on special occasions, adds complexity. Toronto offers a wealth of options, making it overwhelming to decide what’s worth the time and money.

 Our research also showed that local businesses want to attract younger audiences – especially GenZ and Millennial couples, who prefer unique experiences over material possessions. However, audiences often  struggle with discovery and evaluation in a market saturated with choice. Tandem Experiences steps in to solve the connection challenge by matching users with events that align with their interests and contextual needs.

Date night made easy

What initial challenges did the startup face when launching the app?

TE: Launching the startup and introducing our app to the market has been an incredibly rewarding journey. Throughout this process, we’ve been fortunate to receive substantial support and mentorship from various sources, such as the Innovation Boost Zone at TMU, the Canada Council for the Arts, and most recently, the Creative Destruction Lab. These partnerships have played a pivotal role in our growth and development and have allowed us to overcome challenges quickly.

 One significant challenge we encountered early on was clarifying our unique value proposition. We overcame this by speaking one-to-one with our users to better understand their challenges and needs. Through this process, we realized that although the market is flooded with dating apps, individuals still struggle with forging real-life connections. We tackle this issue by leveraging AI and emerging technologies to streamline date planning. What truly distinguishes us is our holistic approach, integrating a recommender system, experience planning tools, and expert curation, making us an essential solution to cultivate meaningful connections. 

Tandem date itinerary

Did the startup form any strategic partnerships or collaborations contributing to its growth?

TE: Beyond our 130+ culinary and cultural community partners and growing roster of guest curators, Tandem Experiences has formed crucial strategic alliances vital to our growth and success.

Among these alliances is the Vector Institute Fastlane program. This program stands as a supporter of startups focusing on the commercialization of AI. Through their backing, we have garnered essential insights and resources as we navigate the complexities of AI integration into our application.

 Our affiliation with Toronto Metropolitan University’s Innovation Boost Zone is central to our developmental journey. This nurturing environment has provided us with a physical workspace and specialized mentorship. This mentorship has been pivotal in advancing our recommender system, a cornerstone of our platform’s functionality, that matches users with personalized experiences.

 Guided by a solid commitment to social responsibility, Tandem’s founders have pledged 1% of their business to charitable initiatives via the Upside Foundation. This commitment underscores their dedication to effecting positive change beyond our immediate sphere. It has also led to valuable interactions with other like-minded founders.

 Together, these partnerships strengthen Tandem Experiences, allowing us to provide meaningful experiences and build connections that lead to innovation and positive societal change.

 Ready to elevate your date nights in Toronto? Download the Tandem Experiences app now and unlock a world of unforgettable experiences with your loved one. Your next perfect date is just a tap away!

Download Tandem Experiences for iOS

Download Tandem Experiences for Android


Maria Rostecka picture
Maria Rostecka

Author: Maria Rostecka, Content Specialist for The Onside Media, Canada. She is based in Toronto, Ontario. If you have any stories to share, please feel free to reach out: maria.rostecka@theonside.com

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