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What We Can Learn From Successful Dating Startups


Dating startups are always a bit risky investment because most apps that hit the market rarely offer something really game-changing. While the classic approach introduced by Tinder still works for some less explored niches, it’s unlikely that a Tinder-like app will attract a lot of users. That’s why startups that develop such applications fail pretty fast, right after users realize they have nothing extraordinary to offer.

The most popular dating apps, like Pure, Her, Hinge, Grindr, and so on, relied on various ways of promotion, throwing parties, using social influencers, and organizing presentations. Some apps were combined with a profile database of some major dating site for singles; others built theirs from scratch. What really made these dating apps so popular was an innovative idea behind them. Tinder gave us the famous swipe feature, and it shows us that decision making can be fast. Hinge improved our chances to get a successful date. Grindr became the first popular dating app for gay users, and Her, starting as an app for lesbians, turned into a full-fledged social network for the LGBT community. Pure introduced more safety, privacy, and anonymity to casual dating.

What lessons can we learn from these apps? Let’s find out what components a dating startup can borrow from them to compete with dozens of competitors.

Lesson 1 – Your ideas should appeal to your future audience, not the market.

The only way to come up with a truly unique idea that would bring your app to the top is to always keep your audience’s needs and desires in mind. They should be in the first place during all the stages of app development.

Here, Pure is the best example. The main idea of this simple but very successful app is that 99% of online daters are only interested in hookups. That’s why the developers of Pure simply left behind all the functions and features of a standard dating app to give users what they need.

Lesson 2 – Matchmaking is not the main thing.

Take your time to think what you can offer your potential users apart from matchmaking. If you can’t find inspiration, take a look at Her: apart from being a successful platform that unites people of different gender, sex, and orientation, it also encourages users to take part in various LGBT events. Maybe you too can come up with some feature that will make your dating app stand out from the competition?

Lesson 3 – Take advantage of social influencers.

The vast majority of popular dating applications used social influencers during promo campaigns. Among them, the brightest example is probably Grindr. The app owners made a smart move by attracting Stephen Fry to boost the downloads in shortest terms. The main thing here is to find the right social influencer. Of course, to persuade them to endorse your product, you need to provide a high-quality service that would appeal to their followers.

Lesson 4 – Stick to the idea.

Think it would be awesome to combine Pure and Hinge into one multifunctional app for both those who look for a one-night stand and those want something more serious than a casual hookup? Such an approach is unlikely to work, as one of the main advantages of a dating service is simplicity. Mindlessly experimenting with functionality, you’ll just lead your project into a dead end. If you have a clear idea in mind, stick to it.

Today, the dating app market already offers too much. If you plan to shake it, you need a fresh idea, not some banal Tinder rip-off. Maybe these lessons that dating app giants teach us will inspire you to create an app that will completely change the way we date online.


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