Overlooked Ventures invests in CarpeDM, a matchmaking service and dating app for professional Black Women.

Swiping, matching, awkward first dates, and text conversations that end because someone ghosts the other.

Dating nowadays can be frustrating, but that doesn’t stop adults from putting themselves out there. 30.4 million in the US turn to online dating to find that special someone. There are many different online dating apps, each offering users a slightly different experience, but often the outcome is the same: conversations that lead nowhere and dozens of first dates.

Although the process is exhausting, a significant portion of the population meets their significant other on an app:

The pandemic made online dating more popular than ever as people were locked down, unable to meet love interests while out at the bar or a social gathering. Dating applications like Bumble and Hinge kept up with the pandemic by offering virtual dating options and allowing individuals to list their vaccination status. And as it turns out, daters aren’t rushing to go back to traditional methods. Adults are changing their approach, with more interest in long-term relationships than casual dating. Match’s 2021 Singles in America study found that “53% of daters are prioritizing their search for a relationship more than before the pandemic” and 58% of app daters are dating intentionally.

As we leave casual dating in the past and search for meaningful relationships, it’s clear that endless swiping is not the best way to find something that will last. And it’s even worse for Black daters.

The Dating Divide: Race and Desire in the Era of Online Romance is a book authored by Celeste Vaughan Curington, Jennifer H. Lundquist, and Ken-Hou Lin. Their research showed that discrimination is present in the algorithms of dating apps and “online dating sites exacerbate racial divisions.” It’s not just in the algorithm — when users are swiping through profiles, race overwhelms other variables, leaving Black men and women more discriminated against than other minorities.

In this article, many Black women daters share their experience on dating apps, which involves feeling invisible, not getting responses even when matched, and being over-sexualized. Certain dating apps allow users to choose race-related preferences, which leads to Black women being excluded and rejected more than ever.

The unacceptable algorithms, filters, and discrimination leave Black women at a disadvantage when it comes to finding love.

Naza Shelley started CarpeDM to change that. As a Black woman and attorney in the D.C. area, Naza turned to dating apps for the same reasons so many others do — to find someone with whom she has a real connection and chemistry. The low-quality matches and lackluster dates further confirmed that dating services failed to address the needs and desires of Black women. And when she turned to professional matchmaking services, she found them too expensive and their clientele didn’t look like her. Dedicated to solving this problem, Naza quit her job to tackle the problems that Black women face when dating and created CarpeDM.

CarpeDM is a tech-enabled personal matchmaking service and patented dating app uniquely designed to help professional Black women find love. This premiere dating community welcomes singles seeking meaningful relationships with Black women with an award-winning dating app and dedicated human Matchmaker at a reasonable price.

Overlooked Ventures is proud to announce that CarpeDM, along with its co-founders Naza Shelley and Sali Hama, are joining our portfolio.

Naza and Sali met while studying at Howard University School of Law, and once their paths crossed, they never uncrossed. The two were paired together for a legal writing assignment during their first year. At the time, both Naza and Sali were going through breakups and bonded over the turmoil that came with dating and breakups. The two stayed close after law school working as professionals in the D.C. area.

When Naza came up with the idea for CarpeDM, Sali was one of the first people she called for advice. Sali encouraged Naza from the sidelines, becoming an investor in CarpeDM’s friends and family round and one of the company’s marketing advisors. They continued to stay in touch and while in New York City having dinner, Naza asked Sali to “help for real,” making them Co-founders of CarpeDM.

Naza and Sali have a special bond and are always having fun. Whenever they’re together, they know that they’re going to have a good time and enjoy the journey. Above all, these co-founders value their friendship and make time for weekly dinners, lunches, and personal check-in calls. Together, Naza and Sali enjoy the startup journey and can handle any trials and tribulations that come along the way.

Each CarpeDM co-founder brings a unique set of skills and talent to the partnership. Naza, CEO of CarpeDM, previously worked as an Attorney-Advisor at the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, was Corporate Counsel at Computer Geeks (CGS), and before that led international business management and marketing at Netmego in Hangzhou, China. As the youngest of three, Naza always looked up to her mother and hero, an Army veteran and the first Black woman Chief Information Officer of FEMA. Naza enjoys traveling, practicing yoga, and is a total foodie.

CarpeDM’s co-founder and CMO Sali Hama is a first-generation Syrian immigrant. Her parents, mom an educator and dad an entrepreneur, shaped her as a person and her idea of what it means to give back in the world. Before joining CarpeDM, Sali worked as an attorney at an advertising agency and consulting firm managing cases for major brands, federal agencies, and fortune 500 companies in antitrust consumer and product liability litigations. In her free time, Sali loves traveling, hiking, and being outdoors.

Although Naza and Sali didn’t plan on becoming startup founders, the two find it exciting and rewarding. At Howard University School of law, the concept of social engineering was emphasized greatly, challenging students to think about how they want to use their skills to positively impact society. Naza and Sali couldn’t imagine a better way to change someone’s life than introducing them to the love of their life.

The CarpeDM team is on a mission to help professional Black women find love, build strong families and generational wealth, and give back to the community!

Naza learned about Overlooked Ventures from a venture partner at Virginia Venture Partners, an investor in CarpeDM. She submitted an application and heard back just a day later. From their very first conversation with Overlooked Ventures, Naza and Sali could tell how incredibly supportive and aligned the OV team was. They are happy to be among a group of phenomenal founders and investors that care about them as people and their professional growth as founders.

Currently, CarpeDM is available in Washington, D.C. metropolitan area with plans to expand to more cities in the United States to help more Black women find long-lasting relationships. Apply to join CarpeDM on their website. If you’re an investor interested in adding CarpeDM to your portfolio, contact Naza@carpedmdating.com.

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Janine Sickmeyer

Janine Sickmeyer

Founding Partner at Overlooked Ventures