For something so abstract, love has a ton of industry around it – not so romantic, right? But it's true. While February is bound to be a good month for florists, card companies, candy makers, and restaurants, it's also bound to be a good month for dating apps.
Everyone knows about Match.com, Tinder and OKCupid, but what else is out there? We’ve rounded up some of the latest and emerging apps on the market, many of which want to put the power in female user's hands and make the dating experience a little more like it could be IRL.
Recently launched in San Francisco, The League is positioning itself as the option for high-achieving folks who are looking for the other half of a potential power couple – the tag line is "Date intelligently." The company was founded by a Stanford grad named Amanda Bradford who worked for Google, Sequoia Capital and Evernote before moving into the love game.
Bradford thinks that what sets The League apart from others on the market is that it presents more information right up front. "The League combines data and social graphs from both Facebook and LinkedIn to offer separation between your work and personal life and much more context about a potential match…[which] allows young professionals to more easily connect on a less superficial level."
The app has roughly 80,000 registered users. 30 percent have advanced degrees, 18 percent are executives, VPs or founders and the user base is split 50/50 men and women. Even though the company is pulling info from Facebook and LinkedIn, it promises your profile will be hidden from your friends and colleagues, so no run-ins on the app will result in awkward in-person explanations later.
"We are different because we are gamifying the process," says founder Shannon Ong, who describes TheCatch as a digital upgrade on a cross between The Bachelorette and The Dating Game. The app allows a female user to invite a group of men to answer a question about topics ranging from best Halloween costumes to the strangest place they've ever visited. The woman's profile is invisible during the Q&A portion and narrows down a field of four to the one guy they want to chat with.
TheCatch launches in beta on Feb. 14, with an iOS release expected in March, and plans to expand to other cities around the country. Ong says that ages of users range from 21 to 38, and so far the user base is slightly skewed towards women. "It's not about what school you go to or what job you have… stop staring at just looks and start looking into other interesting things like chemistry."
The free New York-based Dapper launched in November and co-founder Alexandra Partow says its user base is in the several thousands, the majority of whom are college educated professionals ranging from 25 to 40.
Partow and co-founder Josh Wittman posit that a lot of online dating is something of a time suck – so in their app, you’re not allowed to talk with your matches before the first date. Instead you tell Dapper when you're free and it figures out a time for you and your prospective date to meet. The Dapper team also chooses the location of the meeting -- and your first drink is on them. The app also places a premium on old-school chivalry – the woman gets to choose the neighborhood where the first date takes place, and the guys have to take a Gentleman Pledge before joining the app.
Given your interests and personality traits, Dapper assembles a small group of matches to choose from. "We are offering Dapper for free whereas a matchmaker charges hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Dapper is unlike traditional dating sites and apps which mostly act as chat rooms for people based on mutual interest in profile pictures," says Partow.
Happn first launched in Paris last February and in a year it gained 1.6 million users in cities all over the world – Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Madrid and New York. Madrid. Ideally, the app is meant for the person who sees the same attractive guy or girl on their commute every day, but hasn’t worked up the courage to talk to them yet. Founder Didier Rappaport is the co-founder of video platform Dailymotion.
Marie Cosnard, the app's head of media relations says what sets Happn apart from other apps is that the experience begins offline. “Thanks to real-time geolocation, the app shows you a timeline of the people you have really crossed paths with. They are the people you have seen and that you would like to talk to and meet in real life once again."
Every time you run into someone, say on the street or at a coffee shop, their profile pops up. If you like them, you can hit a heart button, but they won't have any idea unless they like you, too, at which point you can start talking. If you want to get their attention, you can send a "charm" notification.
The Dating Lounge
Matchmaker Samantha Daniels launched her iOS app The Dating Lounge at the end of January. She says her user base started with "several thousand invitations" to a list of "high-end affluent influencers" she had in her existing matchmaking database, and that there is a sizable waitlist. The Dating Lounge is invite-only – but new members can also join if they get approval from other users of the app. "I have recreated my high-end matchmaking service on the phone," she says.
Daniels says one of the things that she think sets her venture apart from the rest is that members can "play matchmaker" for one another. Users can refer one of their matches to friends if they feel there may be potential for a connection, and can ask mutual friends on the app for a reference on the man or woman they are talking with to take some of the guesswork out of the proceedings.
Wyldfire is all about decreasing the admittedly high creep factor for women in the online dating world, describing itself as "the dating network where ladies are the gatekeepers." The women are the ones who vet and vote on the men that get to join the network through the app's "Election" feature.
Each profile includes info about the user's job, education, height and their Instagram account. There is also a 20 message limit per person to start. The app launched in July 2013 and has had a predominantly West Coast focus, but co-founder and CEO Brian Freeman says a national campaign is in the works for 2015.
The average age of women on the site is 23 and 28 for men, and Freeman says that daily active users have increased by 450 percent and monthly active users have tripled since last November. The site only allows users to sign up once as either male or female, and the profile is required to sync with Facebook (hence the Instagram) and have a "clear face photo." Just no bathroom selfies, please.
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