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Dating app Hinge Bets on its Ability to Compete with Tinder

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At the end of 2012, dating site Hinge had recently launched and was overshadowed by the popularity of dating app Tinder. Unsure of how to proceed with less than $32,000 in the bank and only a few thousand users according to Business Insider, Hinge decided to bet big on the mobile platform.

"We made some business assumptions that turned out to be wrong," Hinge CEO and founder Justin McLeod told the news website. "We were like, 'This thing is running out of money, and we need to do something drastic."

In what seems to be a spur-of-the-moment business decision, McLeod and a couple of developers holed up for a few weeks and launched a mobile version of Hinge on February 7th of 2013. But the launch wasn't as smooth as expected - Apple at first rejected the app, which caused many sleepless night for McLeod and his company. They had planned a huge launch party in Washington DC where the app first launched, and until the morning of the launch party, there was no app available.

The launch party turned out to be a success, and more people signed up right after it than had signed up for the beta in all of 2012. It seemed Hinge struck a chord with users where Tinder left them feeling insecure - especially women. Hinge does not just match users based on location like Tinder does (which means a lot of random profiles get into the mix) - you only get matched through your circle of Facebook friends of friends, so everyone you meet on Hinge has some kind of link to your circle. This security has been particularly attractive to female dating app consumers.

McLeod is not about to sit still. He is grabbing a good portion of the dating app market share, and expects to compete heavily with Tinder for its core user base. But he's taking things one step at a time.

Instead of launching his app nationally, he has launched city by city, building up a solid user base based on demand before he moves into a new market. Also, potential Hinge users must be invited by current Hinge users - adding a level of exclusivity and security to the app.

Hinge is now one of New York's hottest startups. Although Tinder is much larger (it makes more matches per day than Hinge has in its entire history), McLeod's company is starting to steal some Tinder users. It has expanded to 20 cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. It uses a waitlist to assess demand in other cities, then launches when a few thousand people have signed up.

"There is no shortage of companies that have tried to build what we've built," McLeod says to Business Insider. "But we're using the organic, city-by-city method, which I think is the biggest thing ... We're a utility to help users meet great people in the flesh as effectively as possible ...We want to be a house party that has a really good host."

Google vs. Amazon: Who Has The Hotter Employees?

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I think a lot of things while sitting at my computer, but until now, none of those things have involved which giant Internet company has the hottest employees. I was perfectly content to search for cat videos on Google and order weird home appliances I’ll never use on Amazon without thinking about the attractiveness of the people on the other side of those companies.

Then Hinge came along, a dating app that matches young professionals in similar networks, and decided that was no way to live. According to Hinge, users are 14.2% more likely to “swipe right” for Amazon employees than their counterparts at tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook. Microsoft came in second, with right swipes occurring 8.2% more often than average. Apple ranks as the least attractive tech firm, with a dismal percentage of 0.2, which is a bit surprising given the cool factor attached to all things Apple.

Before you rush to send in your resume to Amazon, consider the facts behind the findings. Amazon reported having 117,300 employees as of January, including part-time workers. In contrast, Microsoft is home to 99,000 employees, Apple to 80,300, Google to 47,756, and Facebook to 6,337. Because Hinge connects daters through their career networks, it’s likely that more Amazon employees are on the app in the first place.

Oh, and there’s also the fact that Hinge found Amazon employees to be the least “picky” of all the tech companies. Meaning, in the app world, that they’re more likely to swipe right on a profile. And meaning, in the real world, that they’re not exactly selective about who they go on dates with (no judgment, of course…do your thang, Amazon employees). Amazon employees’ more open minded approach to dating could also account for their higher numbers.

Facebook employees displayed the most pickiness – defined by how often the users pass on prospective matches by swiping left – of the bunch. Employees at the social network turned down potential matches 7.5% more than the average Hinge user. Apple employees were found to be the second pickiest, though at a rate of only 0.5% more than average.

On the whole, techie types stacked up well against the competition. Men and women at four of the five companies were all rated more attractive than the average Hinge user (the fifth, Apple, got right-swiped at about the average rate).

Good luck ever ordering from Amazon again without thinking about the hottie who may be processing your order on the other side.

Dating App Hinge Making Cash by Differentiating itself from Tinder

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We all know about dating app Tinder by now. It’s known less for its accuracy in matchmaking and more for its accessibility in meeting people anytime, anywhere – who are up for a brief fling or flirtatious chat. While Tinder is getting a lot of name recognition, another dating app called Hinge is slowly surfacing, city by city, taking the dating app world by storm and attracting a recent round of $4.5 million in venture capital money.

Why is Hinge getting so much attention (and money)? Because it is differentiating itself from Tinder in the most basic of ways. Hinge is focused on the quality of matches, which means instead of scrolling through endless photos and swiping left or right, the app finds a fixed number of matches for each user that they think suit you. Hinge is all about playing matchmaker. (It also doesn’t help Tinder that its CMO Justin Mateen was suspended recently for sexual harassment.)

Hinge matches people based on particular factors, namely profession, education history, and interests, as well who you’ve been interested in previously. What’s different about the dating app is that it’s not just pairing you with people from your circles with the same job or who went to the same college. Hinge looks for less obvious connections, like that Ivy League college alums like to intermingle, or that guys in finance like to date female lawyers. Plus, matches are all gained through your Facebook circles (friends of friends only), and you must have a Facebook friend who’s already on Hinge in order to join. It makes for a kind of exclusive club feeling.

Hinge started small in the D.C. area, but it’s iOS and Android userbase is up 300% this year in the nine cities it operates in: DC, Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, and L.A.

Hinge however isn’t focused solely on the dating game. They want to move in the direction of the so-called “social discovery” app, where they match people who could be friends based on interests.

The new $4.5 million round from Founders Fund and Lowercase Capital brings Hinge to $8.6 million in total funding. Right now, Hinge is free, but in order to be profitable for its investors the company is probably looking into adding premium services for a fee, or potentially licensing its technology, according to website Tech Crunch.

For now, it’s slow-growth approach and catered matchmaking are making it a big hit, especially among the more serious and discerning female daters. It will be interesting to see where it goes next.

Does Less Mean More When it Comes to Online Dating?

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Most singles might agree: we’ve become Tinder-obsessed lately. It’s so easy to flip through photos, rejecting and accepting as many people as possible. It’s become a bit of a sport, or an old game of hot-or-not.

Needless to say, while some people have found true love over apps like Tinder, the majority are still finding it hard to meet people and go on a real date. There seems to be too much choice, too many options for meeting new people. Few daters are focusing on finding a relationship or even dating one person because there are so many options out there.

Studies have shown that people are not great at dealing with too many options. In scientific terms, they become "cognitively overwhelmed." In other words, the more men or women there are to choose from, the harder it can be to pick just one. Kind of like going to a grocery store and choosing from 100 different types of chocolate. How do you really make a good decision about what to purchase?

Fortunately, a new crop of dating apps are addressing this dilemma by trying to give singles what they really want – a more manageable way to date, rather than more options.

CoffeeMeetsBagel is one such app, offering its members one match per day (every day at noon), and you have twenty-four hours to decide if this person is right for you. Matches are chosen based on your Facebook networks, so they are also on better behavior than those you could meet over Tinder and who have no accountability.

Hinge is another such app, offering anywhere from seven to fifteen matches per day to its users, depending on how many Facebook friends you invite to join. It works kind of like a referral service, but since you only get a limited number of matches, you have time to really consider your options and likely accept more dates. Plus, you have to have a friend on Hinge to be able to join, and both your first and last name are visible to your matches. So again, there is some accountability because of your Facebook networks – bad behavior isn’t going to be easily forgotten.

This less-is-more strategy also helps daters in terms of communication. Guys aren’t cutting-and-pasting mass emails to send to as many women as possible on the more selective apps, nor are women receiving many unwanted sexual advances from random guys. It is more of a formal approach, and one that is slow and deliberate.

Are apps like Hinge or CoffeeMeetsBagel for everyone? Maybe not, but if you’re a guy looking to meet women, these are the apps females are more likely to check out and join.

 

Hinge launches in Los Angeles

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Move over Tinder, there’s a new Facebook-based mobile dating app in Los Angeles.

Hinge likes to call itself the “anti-Facebook” for good reason. Instead of relying on GPS and matching whoever happens to be close by, Hinge tries to connect you to potential love matches through your Facebook friends and their networks. So, you’re not meeting “randos” like you might through Tinder.

Recently, The Huffington Post interviewed the founder and CEO of Hinge Justin McLeod, who mentioned that Tinder didn’t even exist when he was developing Hinge. Because of the app’s slower roll-out to the major cities – first in Washington D.C. and next in New York, and a lot of word-of-mouth advertising - many people have caught on and downloaded it before it was even available in their cities, including 6,000-7,000 L.A. singles.

When asked what the main difference is between Hinge and Tinder, McLeod says: “It’s interesting because Tinder started in LA, and I think it’s one of the places where it’s worn out the quickest. From what I hear, people thought it was cool when it started, but people burned through all of their matches and now the quality has gone down. I think [with Hinge] we have a great long-term solution for that because we have a curated app that gives you a limited number of matches each day.”

The app skews a little older and more professional than your typical Tinder users, too. Ninety percent of users are between the ages of 23 and 36, and 99% are college-educated. Most work in either consulting, banking, law, tech or media. McLeod believes the entertainment and legal industries will be strongest in L.A.

The best part? Hinge doesn’t seem to be loaded with guys looking to get laid. In fact, women comprise a little more than half the users at 50.2%, whereas 49.8% of men are using the app. It is a more equal distribution. (Hear that L.A. guys?)

According to Hinge’s website, there are many reasons to go with Hinge rather than relying on Tinder or the bar scene. It states that “if you meet someone at a bar vs. through friends, your date is 5 times more likely to lie about his relationship status, 14 times more likely to lie about his age, and four times as likely to have a one-night stand and never call you again.”

While these are good selling points for Hinge, there are still problems the dating app is working out, like how fast people can move from being matched to actually communicating and setting up a date. Because Hinge only matches you with a maximum of 15 people a day, you’re less likely to go through all of your connections. However, it makes the communication process a lot slower – with Tinder, it’s easier to sort through matches and meet up quickly.

Hinge is now available to L.A. residents, and is free to download. If you are interested in this service you should check out our new Hinge review.

Why Online Dating is for All Ages

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According to a recent study aiming to find the most desirable single in 2014, you'll have the most luck if you're 25 years old and rich.

The study pooled information from about 81,000 singles between the ages of 25-35 on the dating website Plenty of Fish, along with about 1.8 million messages to see what traits were the most desirable in both men and women who are online dating.

For both sexes, men and women in their twenties received more messages than those in their thirties. Women who were between 25 and 26 years old received the most messages, with a sharp decline once they turned 33.

It seems that both men and women prefer singles who make money. Women who earned between $50,000-$75,000 and men who earned between $75,000-$150,000 attracted more prospective dates than those earning less. And men who have law degrees are also likely to be the most successful in garnering attention online, with 33% more messages than the average single guy.

While data like this paints a certain picture of online dating, it's good to keep in mind that this is information gathered from only one online dating site and from just one demographic. If we were to look at online dating as a whole, the fastest-growing segment is singles over 50. And many people prefer paid dating sites like Match.com or eHarmony because daters tend to be more serious if they buy a subscription.

Free dating sites have always skewed younger, because many young daters aren't interested in serious relationships and want a chance to meet a lot of people. Paid dating sites tend to attract users of all ages who are on different levels of the dating spectrum - from casual to marriage-minded.

Twenty-somethings are also gravitating towards dating apps rather than online dating sites. Apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Are You Interested have been on the rise, mostly because of the ease of creating a profile and meeting people immediately, whereas most online dating sites require a little more effort and time before you're meeting each other face-to-face.

So while the POF study might feed into the stereotypes that persist about online dating (that singles prefer if you're young, earn a lot of money, etc.) - there are in reality a wide variety of singles who are online dating. Don't be afraid to explore a number of dating sites and see which one works best for you. This is the best time of year to do it, since more people than ever are online dating!