Mobile

Hinge wants to find you a date who isn’t a random schmoe

Hinge founder Justin McLeod

Above: Hinge founder Justin McLeod

Image Credit: Hinge

Singles, rejoice! Hinge want to find you dates who aren’t completely random strangers.

Hinge is yet another app that aims to help people find their soulmate, or at least someone to have dinner with. This mobile dating app gained early traction on the East Coast in NYC, DC, Philadelphia, and Boston, and today opened up for business in San Francisco.

Founder Justin McLeod said that despite the proliferation of online dating services, most couples still meet through friends, or friends of friends.

“The app introduces you to the people you might meet anyway, at a friend’s house party or wedding, but haven’t had the chance yet,” he told VentureBeat. “Hinge is basically a smarter, faster version of meeting dates through friends. We’re delivering serendipity to your phone, instead of leaving those encounters to chance.”

hingeHinge is by no means the first startup attempting to engineer serendipity. But unlike the bevy of other dating services out there, it only uses information from your Facebook profile, meaning you don’t have to answer an endless series of questions about your best feature or spirit animal.

Every day at noon, Hinge presents you with a selection of 25 potential matches from your extended network. You rank profiles on a scale from 1 to 4, and if you like them and they like you, Hinge sends an introduction.

“By fully leveraging your Facebook network, Hinge systematically provides a way to find better dates more easily than you can with offline or online alternatives,” McLeod said. “It’s not another online dating site where you have to fill out a long questionnaire and browse endlessly through profiles, or a hookup app where you have to sift through random strangers with various motives or fake information.”

Hinge has developed what McLeod described as a “romance graph” (because romance and graphs go so well together) that algorithmically finds singles for you based on mutual interests, friends, and behaviors over time. You are also presented with a list of mutual friends for each match, so you can get more details before committing to drinks.

The Pew Research Center recently found that one in 10 Americans have used an online or mobile dating service, and these numbers are growing. It is such a crowded and competitive market because it is such a popular one — relationships are a powerful driver of happiness. People want to fall in love and find partners, and millions of them are choosing not to rely on actual serendipity or go trolling at bars.

“Traditional” online dating services that match profiles online, such as Match.com, eHarmony, Zoosk, and OKCupid, have been around since the early days of the Internet. However, over the past of couple years we’ve seen a crop of new dating services, largely driven by mobile, that take different approaches. Tinder is a photo-focused mobile app, so you can quickly discard people you don’t find attractive. Coffee Meets Bagel sends you a daily date option, and Grouper sets up drinks between two groups of friends (3 guys and 3 girls).

Even within the friends-of-friends subset of the dating space, Hinge has competition. Thread, Wings, Clique, 3Degrees, FriendlyLook, Yoke, and Acquaintable, to name a few, but McLeod said none have gained significant traction.

The inspiration to found Hinge arose out of McLeod’s experience at Harvard Business School. He said HBS was throwing a “last chance dance” where students could list their crushes and be notified of a mutual interest, but the logistics proved too complicated.

“I soon discovered that the opportunity wasn’t in hooking people up with their current friends, but rather using the social graph to help people discover their friends’ friends. Plus I was single,” he said.

Hinge now has over 100,000 members and a wait list of 2,000 singles in San Francisco. The company claims that the average member logs in 45 times per month.

It is based in Washington D.C..


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.