Tandem Experiences is a woman-led, mission-oriented company that makes date night easy through planning and discovery tools.
The company’s recently released mobile app matches users with unique date experiences that have been hand-bundled by a team of expert curators.
The company’s mission is to develop the most innovative arts and culture discovery and booking tool. Driven by the vision of connecting users with each other and their city, the company is currently operational in Toronto, with their sights set on other major cities across Canada and the U.S.
Tell us about yourself?
Co-founder Mariel Marshall is an interdisciplinary artist and tech entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in the creative sector. As the co-founder of Tandem Experiences, she is invested in building tech that helps connect people with extraordinary experiences and fosters a thriving arts and culture community. With a background in front-end development from Juno College, Mariel’s expertise lies in AI-powered product development and decision support systems. She is a graduate of the devised theatre specialization at York University.
For 10 years, Co-Founder Nadia Barbosa worked as a business strategist and marketer for some of the world’s most recognized food and beverage companies. Nadia has her MBA and a post-graduate certificate in Public Relations. Nadia joined Mariel to solve the problem of planning a memorable date night while supporting local restaurants, small businesses, and arts and culture organizations. Nadia is a self-proclaimed foodie and enjoys exploring local hidden gems by eating her way through the city of Toronto.
Nadia and Mariel’s combined experience, skills, and interests are the perfect marriage to revolutionize the experience space. Through multiple rounds of customer interviews, surveys, and focus groups, they uncovered the top challenges around planning an experience. Whether it was planning a date, friend hangout, or family get-together, the pain points were consistent across the situations. Nadia and Mariel are committed to solving this problem while also shining a spotlight on the best that Toronto has to offer.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Startup founders are some of the hardest-working people. While there is no substitute for hard work and putting in the time, it’s important to take breaks to prevent burnout and protect your mental health. It’s not uncommon to hear about founder burnout and exhaustion. Understanding when you’re nearing your limit is critical, as is leaning on your team for support when needed.
What problem does your business solve?
As of 2021, it is estimated that there are over 8,000 dating apps and websites globally that help people find love. But after they match online, what’s next? There’s a glaring gap in the market to help nurture those relationships. After speaking with hundreds of people, the Tandem team uncovered the biggest challenges around planning a date. The challenges included not knowing what their date would enjoy doing, sifting through countless events or restaurants, not knowing how or where to discover hidden gems, the rising cost of living affecting date budgets, and the pressure to impress their partner.
Tandem Experiences addresses these pain points with a free and user-friendly app. You can think of Tandem as a culture curator in your pocket. Our in-house curatorial team hand-bundles the best local restaurants, events, and activities and provides a full itinerary and video trailer so users know what to expect, budget details, and links to reservations and ticketing. Users receive daily date recommendations, and new experiences are added regularly to keep the programming fresh and exciting. The company’s curators have thought of everything to make the date-planning process easy and enjoyable.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
In 2017, Nadia was newly single and navigating the unfamiliar world of online dating. After meeting with a few eligible bachelors, she found herself on some pretty bad dates and was starting to lose faith in the process. Many of the dates lacked thought, and Nadia felt as though she was on a job interview. However, there was one guy that did take the time to know her interests and curated a date that she’d enjoy. This was a major green flag. Fast forward six years and they’re married. Good dates matter, and Tandem wants to help couples land that second date and help nurture relationships.
What is your magic sauce?
There is an abundance of support to help people enter a relationship, and then they’re on their own to plan a memorable date. Currently available solutions are manual and inefficient. Singles spend time and energy Googling things to do or browsing date ideas on social media or local blogs. The problem is, it’s hard to know what is worth their time and money and what isn’t. Then there’s the extra pressure of impressing your partner and knowing what they would enjoy doing. On top of that, dating can be expensive – especially with the rising cost of living in Toronto.
Tandem Experiences helps active daters plan unique dates without any of the stress. The app uses a proprietary advanced algorithm to learn users’ interests and then recommends dates based on those interests, saving tons of time, energy and frustration. What’s more, users can connect their accounts with their partner’s to get combined recommendations that both people will enjoy. The video trailers of each experience show users exactly what they can expect, so there are no surprises. The itineraries also outline the timing in an easy-to-follow layout along with a journey map. The team works with community partners to provide special perks like complimentary glasses of bubbly or discount tickets to make the date extra special.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
The Tandem team has big plans over the next five years. Right now, Tandem Experiences is a Toronto exclusive, but the company plans to expand to other metropolitan areas that are rich in culinary and culture, such as Montreal, New York City, and Chicago. There’s also been demand for the app for other customer segments, such as Tandem for friends, families, co-workers, and travel. In general, Tandem’s mission is to be the go-to experience provider.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Prioritization is a challenge. Startups move incredibly quickly, and there are constantly changing and competing priorities. To address this challenge, the team carves out dedicated time to speak with their users and community partners on an ongoing basis. This allows the team to prioritize needs based directly on user feedback.
How can people get involved?
The Tandem Experiences app is now available on the App Store and Google Play Store for free. People in Toronto and the GTA can download the app to discover unique experiences and hidden gems.
Follow Tandem Experiences on TikTok and Instagram for unique date ideas and to discover new things to do in the city.
Small-to-medium sized performing arts organizations and independent restaurants can reach out ([email protected]) to collaborate on curating an experience itinerary to increase their discoverability and attract new audiences.