Founder of the Week: Marscha Goei and Breeze

Every week, we highlight one women founder. This week, Marscha Goei, one of the co-founders of Breeze, is put in the spotlight.

With over 323 million people worldwide making use of them, app stores are loaded with dating apps. However, deep down the mechanism proposed is the same: you match, you chat and who knows if you eventually go on date. But recently something new has popped up among the many apps, and it’s called Breeze, as light and pleasant wind.  

Breeze overturned the typical dating concept, no longer endless swiping and chatting. You match, you pick a date, and you directly meet. Breeze started on the streets, where Marsha and her co-founders initially asked people on the street if they wanted to go on a date by showing profiles of their friends. People could select one of the papers and they would organize a date through WhatsApp. The WhatsApp service persisted for quite some time until there was enough money to build an app.   

We talked to Marsha, one of the 7 co-founders and head of product. She participated in the Positioning for Purpose course, that Equals offers in collaboration with the Humblebrag. 

How Breeze started

„I never grew up thinking I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I always had a love for products. So that’s how I studied industrial design engineering. Initially, I wanted to make nice hand mixers or vacuum cleaners. Products ready to go on the market and being used by a lot of people”    

Eventually, she realized production processes weren’t really her thing. Inclining more towards the digital side of products and opting for a master’s in strategic product design. During her studies, a group of friends asked her to join a so-called entrepreneurial collective. It consisted of 10 students from different faculties, sharing different skill sets and ideas. Breeze wasn’t the first idea but the one that stuck longer.   

„At the time we were still students, but what we saw was that there are so many inequalities in the dating industry. Many people use dating apps and want to go on dates, but they aren’t really designed to get you on a date. So there’s a lot of endless swiping, there’s a lot of endless chatting but there’s not a lot of meeting“ says Marsha.  

That’s how Breeze started, disrupting the concept by putting human interaction at its core, instead of technology. How? Changing the business models used by these apps. “The real problem of these dating apps is that their business model is to profit from your addiction, the more time you spend, the more advertisements you get to use. Eventually, it’s not really in their interest to get you on a date, but let you stay longer on the app”. Breeze functions differently, you pay per date.    

And it works, €7,50 per date with the first drink for free. Every day at 7 p.m you get a handful of profiles. If you match, a date picker appears, you select when you are available, and automatically Breeze reserves you a spot at a nearby Bar & restaurant. Of course, If the date doesn’t go through, or the person can’t make it, you get your money back.    

And the algorithm behind?  

The algorithm works based on different inputs, of course, your interest and what you put in your profile counts but not only. “There is a part of the algorithm not looking necessarily into content, but it looks at your behavior in the app”.   

Similar to the Netflix recommendation “Netflix doesn’t necessarily know that you like a plot where all goes wrong and then a heroine saves the world. But they know that if you liked movies A and B, other Netflix users like movies A, B, and C. There are chances you will like movie C as well. So that’s how we match people”. While Netflix it’s only a one-way recommendation system. On Breeze, the other person has to like you as well, so it’s a double recommendation system Marsha explains.   

With 100.000 users and 30.000 dates organized by Breeze, it’s opening the way to a new type of technology, where technology is not limiting you to a screen but it is facilitating real-time encounters. “This sort of business model innovation is the most efficient. I hope we can show other big tech companies that you can still earn by implementing an honest business model. Because what we see now is that most tech companies have a malicious approach. I hope with Breeze we can show that it can be also done differently.”   

Overcoming insecurities

With a 7.8 out of 10 for what concerns the match and 8.2 for the service, user satisfaction is pretty good. “I am always really proud to say that we have a women-to-men ratio of 45 to 55. I am really happy that women like the product as well. Which is something that I am focusing on and working towards as head of product” tells Marsha.

Indeed it’s the only woman between 7 co-founders, a position not always easy for her. “For me, it’s an ongoing struggle, especially because I saw my co-founder flowing into this role, with more confidence and ease. So that made me doubt of myself” says Marsha. At the start, they wanted to get more women on board, but many thought it wasn’t something for them. “It’s a shame. If we read Elon Musk or Steve Jobs biography, as women, we think we are not that ruthless. We have a different skill set, a different personality so we think we wouldn’t be good leaders” continues Marsha.   

But today, as co-founder of Breeze, a successful app, she realized how leadership can be articulated differently and how important is it to have role models and inspire others.  

“Today thanks to communities, such as Equals and others I started talking to other women founders and feeling less alone in this male-dominated space. Sometimes I still struggle of course. However, I think it’s important to help more women to get into tech and entrepreneurship because big tech companies are shaping the world and if women don’t have a seat at the table, the future doesn’t look so bright. The best way to get more women into stem and tech is to have more role models. So I have to be successful with Breeze so that I can take that role, especially because I could be a more relatable role model, given my young age”.   

Breeze’s plans are big. The next steps are to launch the app in other cities. For now, Breeze is available in 15 cities in the Netherlands, while soon Marsha and her team want to expand to more European cities. Making so an impact both in the dating industry but also in the tech industry.   

Want to read more about amazing woman founders? Click here to read our other Founder of the Week blogs.