Gay men seeking company can usually get someone knocking in about the same amount of time it would take to get liquor delivered to the door.
But the Grindr-like model doesn’t mesh with how most lesbians and bisexual women date online.
For instance, Robyn Exton said, women aren’t usually on the lookout to meet someone right away; they’re more likely looking for a date for the next weekend. So an app indicating that someone you’re messaging is near you right now probably isn’t useful—and it might even be a tad unsettling.
Exton started the free women’s dating app Dattch—which hit the L.A. area this month—to better fit the way tech-savvy queer women look for love matches. The idea started when Exton, who hails from the UK, was in a pub with a friend who’d just broken up with her girlfriend.
They decided to get the newly single woman registered on a popular lesbian dating site but found the interface disappointing. It seemed like a “re-skinned” men’s site, Exton said; for instance, it asked about users’ body hair.
In fact, Exton said, it seemed that “every single dating site” seemed designed around what would get men to send initial messages, whether to women or to other men. Exton saw an opportunity to tweak the structure to work for queer women.
Drawing on what she’d learned working at a marketing agency, where she had a dating business as a client, Exton founded the iOS app Dattch. (Right now it’s only on Apple; Exton expects the Android version to hit the market in June.)
The app’s design was developed in keeping with websites that appeal to women, such as the female-dominated Pinterest. Exton said that Dattch profiles, which include a bulletin board-like feature, help women get conversations started and address a weakness women have in the realm of online dating.
“Girls are really bad at writing their own profiles,” she said, and will craft blurbs in which they’re “not really selling themselves.”
Dattch profiles—with their photos of your favorite foods, dream vacations and favorite hangouts—are good conversation-starters, she said.
The app also verifies users’ Facebook profiles to ensure that all users are female-identified. Orientation-wise, there are several options, including lesbian, bisexual and pansexual.
Based in the UK, Dattch started in late 2013 and crossed the pond this year, with a San Francisco rollout in March and an L.A. launch on May 9. Exton spent some time in L.A. and West Hollywood to promote the launch, which she says has attracted thousands of Los Angeles-area users (though Dattch won’t release specific numbers).
Dattch is continuing to expand, with its markets chosen in response to demand; 2,000 requests for Dattch will draw it to a new city. It’s likely to expand to all over California soon, Exton said.