Single, white male, concerned about climate change, likes outdoors activities, went to Harvard.
That’s the impression of Vince Cooper that his friend, Ursula Jongebloed, was hoping to convey in a pitch of Cooper’s strongest attributes, which she packaged into a three-minute PowerPoint presentation and delivered to a roomful of mostly 20-somethings looking for love.
Jongebloed, 23, and Cooper, 26, only met two months ago, in graduate school at the University of Washington. But that budding friendship was enough to motivate Jongebloed to stand before a crowd of singles this month and try to persuade them to make a date with Cooper as part of a startup-esque event hosted by YouShouldDate.ppt.
Jongebloed was one of 13 who presented at YouShouldDate.ppt’s “Pitch Your Single Friend” event Nov. 6 at Optimism Brewery on Capitol Hill — pitching their friends, Shark Tank-style, to hundreds of potential romantic partners. Following each PowerPoint presentation, the audience had two minutes to ask the eligible friend questions — or, in some cases, to ask them on a date on the spot.
YouShouldDate.ppt is part of a wave of dating events that have sprung up around Seattle, which is somewhat notorious for its allegedly tough dating scene. The packed, enthusiastic crowd proved that even in an era when dating apps feel like a (frustrating) default option, there are still plenty of people who want to meet their match in real life.
That’s what inspired Nancy Zhang and her roommate, Jackie Li, to create YouShouldDate.ppt in Boston last winter. They both worked for tech startups and had seen friends create their own, so they were familiar with the pitch process required to attract funders.
“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if, instead of pitching a startup, you pitched your friend?’” said Zhang, who is from Olympia.
At YouShouldDate.ppt events in cities like Seattle, Boston and New York, presenters use slideshows with detailed graphs, charts and photos to make their friend’s case. At the Seattle event, one presenter referred to previous relationships as “beta testing,” and another compiled her friend’s positive characteristics in a pie chart (18.5% “down-ass friend,” etc.). Others featured celebrity endorsements, real-life endorsements and legal disclaimers.
Don’t want to be the subject of your pal’s PowerPoint presentation? Despite the tech-driven vibe of new Seattle, there are plenty of other options for Seattleites to find real-life connections in a low-tech way.
“The Not-Creepy Gathering for People Who Are Single and Want to Fall in Love” hosts “structured, participatory events” for singles in Seattle, Tacoma and Bellingham. Pre-Dating Speed Dating, a national speed-dating service, holds frequent Seattle events broken down by age group. Searching Facebook events also yields nearby results for dating game shows and yoga-inspired dating workshops.
But the wingman-does-the-talking aspect of YouShouldDate.ppt is unique.
“I see [YouShouldDate.ppt] as a funny, comedic escape from online dating,” said Zhang. “When you come to this event, it’s probably because you’re interested in seeing available people, which automatically makes it less awkward. I think people on dating apps don’t generally enjoy the experience.”
Zhang says she brought YouShouldDate.ppt to Seattle precisely because of the city’s many startups and the high population of tech workers. She hopes to host another Seattle event in the future, she said, maybe around Valentine’s Day.
At the “Pitch Your Single Friend” night at Optimism Brewery, each presenter spoke animatedly about their single friend — seated on a barstool next to them — as an enthusiastic audience offered loud cheers and only a few boos. (What does it take to get booed at an overwhelmingly positive dating event? Hating Meryl Streep or hiking.)
Cooper sat next to his friend, smiling awkwardly as she sang his praises. After Jongebloed concluded, Cooper answered questions from the audience: He’s getting a graduate degree to work in climate science. (Cheers!) His favorite book is “War and Peace.” (Boos.)
Cooper hasn’t had much time to date since starting graduate school, but he said it seems like a high proportion of Seattleites are already coupled up. He and Jongebloed were surprised by how seriously some presenters took the “startup” theme of the event.
“We told more of a story and weren’t as focused on the charts and hockey-stick graphs,” Cooper said.
Morgan Marks, another presenter that evening, didn’t consider pitching her friend a likely way for either woman to find dates — they just wanted to have fun. They both applied to pitch each other; Marks’ presentation of her friend, Sedra, featured plenty of outdoor adventure photos, plus graphs charting her personal growth over time.
Zhang said the event series had led to lots of dates, but no serious relationships — yet. But her favorite part of the process is often overlooked: the bonding that comes from having a friend tout your best traits.
“It’s really touching to have your friend make a PowerPoint with all the great things about you,” Zhang said.
Or, in some cases, a bit of gentle roasting.
“I’m usually pretty humble and quiet, so it was weird to be bragged about,” said Brian Henderson, 23, the lucky subject of a lively presentation made by his friend, Tracy.
But Tracy’s pitch didn’t consist entirely of bragging about Henderson’s strengths.
“If you’re bored of tech guys showing off money, he’s a grad student! He has none,” she declared, leaving the room laughing out loud, for real.