Clique, is a new New York City based startup stirring up the online dating space. The premise is simple: Clique connects friends of friends—It’s how you meet people at a party, brought online. Clique users can’t connect with anyone who is more than two degrees away from a friend, so every date is vetted by someone he or she knows.

There’s huge value in having a closed community of eligible singles at your finger tips. Being introduced through friends on Clique will make the experience feel more natural. To fully take advantage of this technology, you need to invite all your friends so you have a large network of singles to choose from and wingmen to make introductions. Personally, I love playing matchmaker on Clique. It’s a great platform for me to make introductions to both friends and clients. Choosing who should meet is so much fun!

-Laurie Davis, e-Flirt Expert

Clique pulls in social media to provide more candid information on potential dates and allows those in relationships–dubbed wingmen–to join and set up their single friends. Founder Christy Purington moved to NYC to pursue the “glamorous” life of a magazine editor. After haphazardly ending up in the online division of People, she moved to Time Out New York as an online editor. Soon after realizing she didn’t want to be an editor for the rest of her life, she quit last year to found a startup—”this crazy idea about a dating website that connects friends, which my family and friends assured me would be a great business proposition. That idea is now embodied in Clique,” she says. We caught up with Purington for a quick interview to discuss Clique and dating in the digital era.

CBM: What is Clique and why is it different from other dating sites?

2Clique Feeds 220x179 Interview: Clique, a dating site Facebook should be jealous ofChristy Purington: Clique is a dating site that connects friends of friends. We include those in relationships–dubbed “wingmen”–to help set up friends. We’re really aiming at making this a super social site, so along with the integration of your social graph, we also pull in social media feeds from Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Netflix and Goodreads to offer a more candid view of yourself to potential dates. We think this says a lot more about you than a lengthy, contrived profile does.

CBM: Are you single/dating/married?

CP: I’m in a pretty serious relationship! We actually started dating at the same time I started pursuing Clique, and met through a mutual friend. So it just goes to show… :) But when I created the site, it was honestly to pacify my own needs as a dater. I was sick of the bar scene, and the best dates I was going on were with the guys I met through friends. I knew there had to be a way to bring this experience online. I wanted to know who else my friends had up their sleeves!

CBM: What is the end goal of Clique? To set up all your friends?

CP: The end goal has two components: First, for daters to discover new people in their social graph as potential dates. Second, its for users–single or taken–to set up their friends. There are so many people in different groups who would work well together romantically; Clique is intended to be a tool to expose those connections. At its core, its really just to facilitate better dates; our best feedback has been that even when two people go on a date and there is no romantic connection, they still have a great time together. I think that’s a vastly different response than what you hear from serial daters on other sites.

4Clique Matchmaker1 520x231 Interview: Clique, a dating site Facebook should be jealous of

CBM: How will you monetize Clique?

CP: There are a couple routes to monetization; we know that we want to avoid the subscription model if possible. One option is charging for the second tier of connections, which is a really valuable tier—these are the people who are close enough to your network to be meaningful, but far enough away that you may not have interacted with them yet. We also have some really fun ideas that include surfacing of daily deals (pertinent to those about to go on a date) and matchmaking rewards for successful set-ups.

CBM: Tell me about the best date you’ve ever been on.

CP: The best dates are always the ones that are the least planned out—having a glass of wine on a porch, watching a cheesy movie. But if I had to choose, I would say it was last fall, taking a sail on the Hudson on a sunny afternoon. We followed it up with a walk along the west side path, then greasy nachos and canned beer on Stone Street. The best dates aren’t about what you’re doing, but who you’re with. We want Clique users to have that same sentiment with each date.

Sounds like a dating website Facebook should be jealous of! Or one that it could at least duplicate pretty quickly if it wanted to. Out of all the dating sites I’ve come across in the past few months, I think Clique has the greatest potential for fun. After all, how many of your past lovers were friends of friends? I’m batting 5 out of 6 here.

User tip from the e-Flirt Expert: Clique allows you to include social media feeds in your profile. Choose wisely. This gives a more authentic glimpse into who you are, but it’s also public to everyone who is connected to you. So before you hit the Twitter connect button, scroll through your most recent page of tweets and decide if you’d be comfortable with potential dates reading all of it. If you feel good about what you see, share away! [See our interview with Davis for more e-flirting tips!]