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Stories of Turning Dating Into a Business

By Marga Salvador on February 2, 2016

Valentine's Day is looming around the corner and if you don't have a date yet, that's not much of a problem in the technological age. There are dozens of dating apps available in the app ecosystem, each with their own little spin so whatever gender, sexuality, preference, fetish, etc. you may be/have, there's probably one out there that will cater to you. Before you open up the App Store or Google Play, take a look at the origin stories of some of these apps that have taken over the dating scene.

For those looking for a match... Tinder


In a 2004 math class at USC, business entrepreneurship freshman Sean Rad crossed paths with Justin Mateen (an avid Blackberry user who went to the same private school as Sean). After Sean introduced Justin to the iPhone, and the two became best buds, even helping each other develop their extra curricular projects. Sean had no plans of being a bum in college and launched his first company Orgooan integrated email & messaging platform, before becoming a sophomore. In 2008, like many tech vagabonds, Sean left USC to focus on growing his entrepreneur's portfolio.

A year later, Sean launched his second company Ad.lya social advertising platform for celebrities. He grew it for two years and in 2011, he sold it. That same year, Sean joined Hatch Labs in order to start yet another company. There he met Jonathan Badeen and birthed the plans for Cardify, a loyalty program manager for different establishments. Sean, Jonathan, and Justin were bro-ing out one winter and they conceived the idea for Tinder. It was such a good idea that Cardify fell off the wagon completely. All the guys' resources went into developing Tinder and in late 2012, they launched it and the rest is history. Today, there are more matches on Tinder than there are people on earth. Swipe right?

For the guys looking for guys... Grindr


Have you ever just wondered if the person you were checking out was gay? That's exactly what was going through Grindr founder Joel Simkhai's mind when he first conceived the largest all-male location based dating app. In 2008, there were popular dating sites and apps on the market but nothing quite so niche and there Simkhai saw an opportunity. He hired a developer to write the software and his friend Scott Lewallen took care of the design.

The timing couldn't be more perfect. The second generation iPhone would have GPS and the ability to write native apps so when they launched Grindr on the App Store in 2009, it spread like wildfire. As one of the store's first 10,000 native apps, they gained a lot of traffic with mentions by TechCrunch and Top Gear's Stephen Fry. The name "Grindr" takes it origins from coffee grinders and the idea of mixing people together. The logo is the team's modern take on the primitive tribal (hence, the mask) need to socialize. It all worked out for them. Today, the app has over 7 million users in 196 countries, an average 10,000 downloads and 2 million users daily.

For the ladies who like ladies... Her


You know how brilliant ideas are often birthed next to a bottle of beer? That's exactly how Robyn Exton came up with the idea for Her (formerly Dattch). She was comforting a heartbroken friend in a pub and was embarrassed when all she could console her friend with was the sad dating app she was using at the time. Exton saw that the virtual dating scene for women wasn't adequate for the community's needs. Developers “took a site for guys, turned it pink, and called it ‘Lez on Lez’,” and that wasn't enough so she decided to do something about it and luckily for her, it turned into a career too.

Launched in June of last year, Her set out to differentiate itself from existing apps. As opposed to being an app primarily for hookups and dating, Her aims to be "more social, less dating". In addition to private conversations, there are group discussions that anyone can join in on. Exton wanted it to be a platform where women could meet women whether as friends or lovers. It's relatively new on the app ecosystem, but it's gaining popularity within the community. Favored lesbian blog After Ellen called it the best app for queer women. Three months after launching, they had already made $2 million in investments and they're still going strong.

For those who need a sign... Happn


Most dating apps rely on information provided by users or photos to make a match and the success rate is a hit or miss. After assessing the "flaws" in some apps on the market, city of love local and Dailymotion co-founder Didier Rappaport wanted to provide the more skeptical or shy part of the audience with a solution. "All of us have this fantasy – you see a beautiful lady [or handsome man] in the street or on the subway, and you can't talk to her because she leaves too soon, or because you were feeling shy," said Rappaport. And so Happn came to be.

Launched in early 2014, Happn took the online dating scene for a hyperlocal spin and location sensing to another level. Instead of adjusting your calendar to meet someone, Happn integrated online dating into your more or less regular routine. If you happen to cross paths with someone (with the app) throughout the day, they show up on your timeline. You can retrace your steps to when and where you 'met' someone and match by 'hearting' each other. Happn is the new kid on the block but its growing fast. Their first million users took ten months, three months for the next million, and two months for the third. Now they're doing a million every month.

You can bet that on the days leading up to the 14th, these apps will be swiping, ringing, and matching like crazy.

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