Sick of Tinder and OkCupid, Robyn Exton had an idea for an app that isn’t just for dating, but a unique social experience tailor-made for lesbian and bisexual women. Two years on, and the award winning Dattch is going global.
One evening after work, Dattch Founder Robyn Exton was having a drink with friends – one of which was newly single.
“She just broke up with her girlfriend, so we were trying to cheer her up and get her to sign up to all the dating sites that we were on, ” Robyn explains.
It was only after trying to convince her friend of the pros of app dating did she realise that the cons outweighed the pros. “I just thought, ‘this is crazy’. My friends and I were all using different [dating apps] and none of them are actually liked by any of us”. She asked herself, where were all the dating app for lesbians?
Within six months, Robyn left her job as a brand consultant and started the developing Dattch – but it wasn’t without it’s challenges. “I worked free lance for more money and basically started saving up a bootstrap fund.
“I honestly think it was just ignorance. I didn’t think about the implications of quitting my job, I was just like, ‘let’s give it a shot and see what happens.’ It turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done.’ “
With that, Dattch was born. It’s sleek Pinterest style interface and cleverly designed mini-games differ from the Tinder model, and are aimed at building lasting, deeper relationships and friendships than you would find on any other leading apps.
“On apps like Tinder, it was a bit too like a ‘hot or not’ style, and we wanted something that was a bit more approachable, so, if you wanted to start chatting to someone for just a friendship, that would be possible,” she said. “On Tinder, if you swipe right that means ‘you’re fit and I fancy you’ as opposed to actually talking to someone and getting to know their personality.” And it’s working!
“What we have found with Dattch is the amount of people in the UK and Ireland who are not just using it for dating. It is one of the first exclusively female safe space apps, so we find a lot of women are using it for friendships as well – you know, finding people to go on nights out with.”
What remained at the core of the project was that the needs of lesbians were met. It was essential to Robyn that Dattch wasn’t just a “pink Grindr”.
“The very first version of Dattch was very similar to Grindr. It was a grid structure and it showed you the closest people to you. The profiles were big pictures and tiny bit of text,” she explains.
“We tried it with 1,000 people for six months when we were in private BETA and it just didn’t work. We found that the message quality was terrible. Just a lot of “hey :)” and profiles would just say ‘ask me’.
“We also found that women didn’t care how close the nearest person was to them, because a majority did not want an instant hook up.The dating behaviours of men and women are very different, I mean, women would book their dates three to five days ahead.”
Since launching in the UK in 2012, Dattch’s success meant that it has now expanded to the US, and even won the Best Designed App Award at the US Launch Festival. But how are US users finding Dattch? “It’s going really well. Americans date a lot more prolifically than people in the UK and Ireland. They go dating like, once or twice a week,” she says.
“I think dating apps are starting to change that a bit over here and make it not such a big deal anymore. On this side of the pond, it’s not about meeting new people… if you decide to go on a date with someone you have already decided that you really want to like this person. It’s a much more serious affair.
“Hopefully that will start to change. “
As it expands, Robyn is still dedicated to tailoring the app to appeal to, and suit the needs of, women across the globe. “It is really interesting, we are learning how women act and socialise differently in different countries and cultures.”
The next six months are going to be busy for the Dattch crew, as they focus on launching the app in various cities across the US and Canada, before bringing Dattch down under to Australia – but that’s not all.
“We will be hitting the non-English speaking markets too. China will be the first. We have lots of places to go!”
Dattch for Android will be available in May 2014.
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