Dating app swipes on Richmond for new city launch

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After flirting with a launch in Richmond, a national dating app has gotten serious about the idea.

The League, an online service that connects singles – with an emphasis on those who are career-focused – launched in Richmond Tuesday with 500 users signed on.

“It is such a booming place right now,” The League spokeswoman Meredith Davis said of the Richmond market. “We weren’t even planning on launching in Richmond until January 2019.”

Richmond is among six other cities in which the League launched this week – Cincinnati, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Vancouver and Montreal.

The company, founded in 2014 in San Francisco by Amanda Bradford, uses word-of-mouth promotion and a waitlist to find its target markets.

Once a waitlist has reached a large enough mass, market research is conducted to examine age demographics (The League primarily is in the 25 to 35 range), proximity to universities, companies that employ users and how many singles there are in an area.

“Large- and medium sized cities have a large cohort of business and career professionals,” Davis said. “They all struggle with apps to find a serious relationship where it’s a game of hot or not. We’re looking for more substance in relationships.”

Davis said the company sped up its launch in Richmond because of higher-than-expected interest. She said more than 3,000 people have downloaded the app and, with the exception of the “founding class” of 500 users, will remain on the waitlist as the company rolls out more accepted singles on a weekly basis.

That follows the launch formula it has used in 37 other cities. Davis said the founding class serves as brand ambassadors because they can continue word-of-mouth promotion through their friends.

“We want a founding class of users that are diverse,” Davis said. “If they all went to James Madison (University), then we wouldn’t be able to grow our community.”

To join The League, members must have been invited by someone or spent some time on the waitlist while being vetted.

Applicants must include six pictures of themselves, and fill out a bio and list interests. Davis said that a selection board examines if a person is ambitious in their education and career.

The League is connected to applicants’ LinkedIn accounts to automatically fill out and verify their academic and professional resumes. The LinkedIn connection also helps to authenticate that an account is a real person. An algorithm initially vets to check if required information is present before the board of admissions begins to review profiles and make selections.

“If someone doesn’t fill out their profile, they’re probably looking for a one-night stand,” Davis said. “There’s other great apps they could use for that.”

Members will be shown five matches each day at 5 p.m. with which they can choose to interact. The League also features a concierge, who members can ask questions of or be informed about the app.

In each market, The League has community groups and event postings.

Davis said The League has a free version and paid membership packages starting at $99 per month. Other options include paying for expedited review for potential approval.

“We monetize on impatience,” Davis said. “People who don’t want to be on a waitlist can pay to jump in line.”

Members can filter for a partner as far as 100 miles away, up to 6-foot-9, as young as 20, with a range of preferences for ethnicity, education and religious beliefs. They also can choose to be shown men, women or both genders as potential partners.

Davis said the app prefers to let its users influence where they should launch by seeing a growing list of people on a waitlist.

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