Contributed by: ElyseRomano Monday, June 10 2019 @ 09:35 am
Toffee[*1] , the UK-based dating app aimed exclusively at privately-educated singles, is beginning its international expansion with Australia. The app was widely criticized as elitist when it launched in the UK last April, but shows no sign of slowing down in the face of controversy. Toffee will become available for Android users in September, followed by the Australia launch in November. Additional international rollouts are planned over the next 12 months.
Founder Lydia Davis insists Toffee was not born out of snobbery. “I’ve found that people from similar backgrounds tend to stick together,” she told Vogue[*2] earlier this year. “It was never our intention to be elitist. Schooling is a big part of people’s lives – 10 years of their childhood. It doesn’t define them, but it is part of their identity. It’s just one of many things people might have in common.”
Toffee has amassed over 30,000 monthly active users in the UK so far. Australia was a natural choice for the app’s first foray abroad, Davis says, because of the large number of Australian students who attend private schools. Just eight percent of the population in the UK is privately educated. In Australia, the number jumps to 35 percent. In India, where the company plans to launch by the end of the year, it’s 38 percent – or 500 million potential users.
Like many of its competitors, Toffee invites users to swipe left or right on profiles to show interest. The app does away with the traditional “About Me” section of the profile in favor of prompt questions that offer “tongue-in-cheek suggested answers.” Toffee’s most distinctive features include a social calendar and a slider function that allows users to indicate the personal interests and attributes they’re seeking in a partner.
Toffee is not the first dating app to target an elite audience. The Inner Circle[*3] , which launched in Amsterdam in 2012, is now active in more than 30 cities around the world with over 1.5 million members. The League[*4] , a members-only dating app aimed at working professionals, vets all potential users based on data from their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. There’s also Raya[*5] , which bills itself as “an exclusive platform for people in creative industries" and has a strict application process.
All of these platforms have been met with criticism. Bloomberg Businessweek[*6] even theorized that they could widen America’s wealth gap by perpetuating inequality. But Toffee, at least, is committed to being a force for good where it can. The company has pledged to donate 33% of its 2019 profits to five charitable organizations based in the UK.
“As the app continues to grow, I think it’s important to give back and support the organisations that truly mean something to us as people,” said Davis. “I couldn’t pick just one or two charities, as all five do incredibly important work.”