Tinder might be the best-known dating mobile app, but an East Coast startup is working hard to dethrone it.
Hinge, the New York City-based startup, has been putting a twist on the dating app model by serving up matches from your Facebook-based social network. That’s right, it shows you potential matches who are second- and third-degree connections, and today Hinge is announcing it has raised $12 million in new funding.
Much like Tinder and other mobile dating apps, Hinge lets you set up a short profile by login in with Facebook, pick out your preferences (age, location, and so on), and swipe through the potential matches it gives you. For each match, you can say yes or no, and Hinge only reveals the results when both you and a match have mutually said “yes.”
Hinge grew out of cofounder Justin McLeod’s experience at the end of his time in graduate business school, he told me in an interview. The program was organizing a “Last Chance” dance, themed around students finally approaching someone they’ve had a crush on. He and a friend ended up building a simple web app for his classmates to use to input secret crushes, and it only revealed matches if both people selected each other.
After making a splash on the East Coast and traveling to California as an alternative to dating app Tinder, Hinge attempted to rebrand itself last summer as an app for people to discover new people more broadly, as friends, for example.
But it seems to have surrendered back to being a dating app.
“I think the primary use case is dating on Hinge, and I think that it’ll remain that way,” McLeod said. Hinge-borne friendships happen when romantic connections don’t quite happen, although the company only has anecdotal evidence of these relationships.
Hinge is now looking at ways to facilitate face-to-face meetings even more, although McLeod wouldn’t elaborate on what Hinge is working on to release next, only stating that it’s like “nothing that’s being done right now.” He also pointed out that in-app chat hasn’t changed very much in dating apps.
Hinge is currently in 28 cities (six of them launched yesterday) and told VentureBeat that San Francisco is “by far [its] fastest growing market.”
Shasta Ventures led the new round, with participation from previous investors Lowercase, Great Oaks, Eniac, and CAA Ventures.
Hinge was founded in 2011 by McLeod. This brings the company’s total funding to a whopping $20.5 million.