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LikeBright co-founders Ron Lai, Sonya Lai and Nick Soman

The problem with many online dating sites is that they are dominated by dudes, sometimes creating an unwelcoming environment for 50 percent of the population. LikeBright co-founders Sonya Lai, Ron Lai and Nick Soman want to flip the model on its head, creating a service where women can vouch for guys they know and tag them as funny, caring, smart, responsible or cute.

“We stay focused on the positive,” says Soman, adding that there’s no “down voting” or ratings on LikeBright.

To get things rolling, the Seattle startup — one of 10 companies now participating in the TechStars program — is kicking off a contest to find Seattle’s most eligible bachelors. Guys in five age categories, and five of the women who voted for them, will be eligible to win prizes and recognition at the LikeBright launch event November 12th at the Triple Door in Seattle.

But, before that occurs, here’s a closer look at LikeBright.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We make dating simple, social and safe by letting women vouch for guys.”

Inspiration hit us when: “We realized that there just wasn’t a great dating solution built for women, and observed that the best wingman is a wingwoman. We started talking to women and came up with LikeBright.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Investors are part of the team, so it all depends on the people.  We got seed funding from TechStars Seattle and we’re currently raising a small round, with about $150,000 committed from smart folks who can help us realize our vision.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Understanding how relationship decisions happen in the real world, and tweaking that process to make it better online.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Building our product for women. When women are happy, everybody wins.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We briefly and inexplicably changed our name to PirateBird.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: (Why) “Zuckerberg.  We love what you’ve built, Mark!  Just trying to help.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “Women stop heading to the bathroom together to compare notes on guys, and start doing it at the table via LikeBright.”

Rivals should fear us because: “We’re not building a dating site. We’re building a layer on Facebook that helps people share information to make better dating decisions for themselves.”

We are truly unique because: “Women don’t have to have profiles to use our site, and we welcome women in happy relationships.  We are building a community for all women, for matchmaking, for cheerleading, for staying informed, and for learning about men they know or might want to get to know.”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Learning to tell our own story on our own terms.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Haters gonna hate.  Do what you love, and never stop learning.”

(Editor’s note: GeekWire’s Rebecca Lovell and Jonathan Sposato are both mentors in the TechStars program, and GeekWire is a media sponsor of the company’s dating contest).

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