Mainer’s Affinity App for Connecting Families and Business to launch in mid-August


The social networks and virtual communities market will be joined on Saturday by Match2Play, a Maine app to connect families and support local businesses. Created by Sara Lopez, the app will allow users to “correspond” with others based on their interests, language or culture.

The idea for the app was born when Lopez, originally from Colombia, moved from Puerto Rico to Maine four years ago. A mother of four, Lopez struggled to meet other parents and find family activities for her boys.

“The idea (for Match2Play) arose after I moved here from Puerto Rico,” said Lopez, who now lives in Portland. “It was difficult to connect with other families. I was new to the area. It was a bit difficult not only to make friends with kids my kid’s age, (but also) to find things to do and places to go.

Businesses that sign up for the Match2Play app can create profiles that families see when they search for nearby activities. Derek Davis / Personal Photographer

To solve his own problem and help others in similar situations, Lopez used his 10 years of marketing experience and decided to create an app that would benefit both families and local businesses.

Businesses that sign up for the app can create profiles that families see when they search for nearby activities. Currently, Lopez has 35 business deals to join when the app launches next weekend. Businesses can offer deals and discounts through the app, and Match2Play receives a share of all purchases made.

To expand the business side of the operation, Match2Play has formed a partnership with Portland Buy Local, an organization that supports local businesses in the Portland area. The partnership is part of Portland’s Buy Local media partnership program, which aims to support a variety of advertising opportunities.

“(Match2Play is) our newest media partner, and that means we promote each other,” said Mary Alice Scott, executive director of Portland Buy Local. “It’s a recognition that what they’re doing will help local businesses, as it’s an opportunity for family businesses to connect with a larger audience. And then we promote their program, Match2Play, to our members to say, “Hey, this is an exciting new opportunity that you might not have heard of before, a new way for you to. sort of explore advertising. “

To advertise to families, Lopez reached out to various family groups on Facebook and also recruited relatives already within his network. She met Val Schmitt, mother of an 8-year-old boy, while playing golf, and Schmitt was immediately won over by the idea.

“(Lopez) explained (the app) and I was like, ‘Well that’s awesome,'” said Schmitt, who lives in Falmouth. “We have apps to connect adults, we have apps to connect communities,… but there really isn’t anything for families. It’s perfect. I have an 8 year old, and he’s an only child, so I don’t have any older siblings to try, ‘Oh I know Billy’s little sister is the same age as my third (child).’ It doesn’t work when you only have one.

Schmitt plans to use the app primarily to find other families with children who might share his son’s interests.

“The ability to try to match the age range as well as the interests seems to be a very big draw,” Schmitt said.

Adrian Espinoza, single father of a 2-year-old daughter who also runs the Empanada Club, a pop-up booth selling Latin American specialties, heard about the app directly from Lopez and found it met his needs. both as a parent and as a business owner.

“(Lopez) contacted me to tell me about the app, and I thought, ‘This is amazing, this is exactly what I need,” “Espinoza said.

“In winter, especially, I’m always looking for something to do. … Sometimes it’s hard to be a single parent, ”Espinoza added.

Match2Play currently has over 13,000 pre-registered families, signaling to Lopez how widespread isolation is among parents. While the pandemic may have exacerbated this isolation, she sees it as a constant problem facing parents.

“Isolation is a problem right now (because of the pandemic),” Lopez said, “(but) isolation for parents with young children is a constant.”

To put parents keen on meeting other people on the internet at ease, the app will also include an optional background check feature. Users pay a one-time fee to have their profile verified and can then choose to match only other verified users.

“We encourage users to verify their profiles, and the way they verify the profile is a one-time payment,” Lopez said. “After you pay he does a background check to see that you are who you say you are, and at the same time to see that you have no criminal record that could affect the safety of the children or could affect the safety of the child. the whole family. Right now, we are the only social network that performs a background check. Majority of apps, including dating apps or any type of social media app on the market, perform identity verification or other verification steps, but no background checks.

The app will initially launch in English, but Lopez hopes to eventually add more languages ​​to be accessible to more people, especially immigrants, statewide.

While new social networks have popped up rapidly for years, Match2Play prides itself on being the first app designed primarily for the well-being of families.

“I’m so excited for (Lopez),” Scott said. “She’s so excited, and I’m really impressed with that. I think this is a good idea. I think it’s really unique, and I’m always excited when there’s something unique like that that starts in Portland. I think it’s a sign of the entrepreneurial spirit that makes our city so cool.

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