Shelve the roses and chocolate, and bust out your smartphone—if you haven’t already that is. Online dating has been around for several years, but thanks in part to mobile dating apps, it is exploding. One in ten American adults has dabbled in online dating, according to Pew Research Center, and it’s poised to become a $2 billion industry.
Yet women have not been as quick to embrace the dating apps; men are twice as active as women when it comes to online dating, according to 2013 research. And women have been subjected to hostile, lewd and harassing comments on popular dating apps, like Tinder and OkCupid, which have been created by largely male teams. Female entrepreneurs have seen an opening, and several dating apps have been created by women — for women.
Whether they’ll be hugely successful remains to be seen. Coffee Meets Bagel claims 100,000 to 500,000 users and has attracted $2.8 million in funding. Others, like Bumble, which launched late 2014, are newcomers on the market.
And as for whether they’re better routes for finding love and companionship, that is an open question. Given Valentine’s Day is approaching, we’ve identified 6 dating apps created by women, some of which already have attracted criticism.
Whitney Wolfe, a co-founder of Tinder, had a messy breakup from the company. Last June she sued, alleging sexual harassment. The case was settled for a reported $1 million with neither party admitting wrong-doing. She then quickly rebounded with a new dating app called Bumble, where women users are in charge.
On Bumble, users are matched with people nearby, but the woman has to be the one to initiate a chat within a day, or the connection disappears. Men can extend one match for longer than a day. However, for relationships where both members are the same gender, there is no rule about who can send the first chat. Bumble also just introduced photo messaging–but all photos are watermarked with the users name and face to prevent people from sending incriminating photos.
Coffee Meets Bagel
The creation of three Bay-Area sisters, Arum, Dawoon and Soo Kang, Coffee Meets Bagel emphasizes quality over quantity. It uses your Facebook information to match you with friends of friends. You get one match a day. If both parties decide they want the introduction, the app sends along a text message with an ice-breaker question to both.
The sisters are confident in their ability to do business. They made an appearance on “Shark Tank” in January and turned down a $30 million offer to buy their company. “We see this business growing as big as Match.com,” Arum Kang said on the show. Coffee Meets Bagel won’t disclose its user numbers, but says its users now number between 100,000-500,000.
Dattch is the dating app aimed at women who are lesbian, bi or “bi-curious.” Dattch was started by former marketer, Robyn Exton, when a friend of hers was going through a breakup.
The thing to do was get the lady back on the market, but according to Exton, the selections for gay women were paltry. There were either dating apps created for straight people, or dating apps that were bore a strikingly similar to Grindr, the gay male dating app with an infamous reputation for propagating hook-up culture. By contrast, Dattch features a pinterest-like layout which is heavy on pictures. The pictures remove the need for self-description and instead drive conversation towards interests and hobbies.
Samantha Daniels, the founder of matching making service Samantha’s Table, launched The Dating Lounge as a Facebook app around two years ago. Now she’s creating it as a mobile app. Daniels, a professional matchmaker, says the app is “invite-only” for people who earn more than a $100,000 a year. But there are exceptions. Anyone who is a member can send you an invite; Daniels also told The New York Observer she will let in people who earn less if they have “social connections” or an interesting job.
Alexandra Chong’s answer to the some of harshness of online dating was to build an app called Lulu in which women hold all the cards. Like Bumble, women have the power to send the first message, and they can do it anonymously until they feel comfortable unveiling their identity. But on Lulu, women also can rate boyfriends, exes and acquaintances — anonymously. They can rate men’s appearances, ambition and sexual performance and include a review of best and worst points. No wonder it’s been called the “most sexist app” on the Internet and a “cyberbullying app.”
Siren was recently founded by two women, Susie Lee and Katrina Hess. The app puts women users in charge. Women control who sees their image, who can communicate with them and whether to pursue a date. Women also can get their friends to weigh in, forwarding a man’s profile to get their take. Friends can sign on as “wingwomen” without a public profile. “We’re cheering good men on in as many ways as we can,” Lee told CNN.