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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 05/07/2013

D.C. dating start-up Hinge expanding to New York

In the first few months since its start in the Washington area, the founders of District-based dating app Hinge have already identified their next market: New York.

Hinge, a free smartphone app connecting users to the friends of their
A woman walks along a promenade next to the Hudson River across from the skyline of New York in Weehawken, N.J. District-based Hinge’s dating app has decided the New York area will be its next market. (Gary Hershorn - Reuters)
Facebook friends, launched shortly before Valentine’s Day this year and now has more than 10,000 users in the Washington area. This summer, the team plans to launch the app in New York.

Every day at noon, Hinge users receive a batch of their Facebook friends’ single friends, and can indicate if they’re interested, based on their Facebook profile pictures and basic information. If two users mutually indicate interest, Hinge sends an e-mail introduction — so far, the app has made more than 25,000 matches.

Founders Bennett Richardson and Justin McLeod, who operate out of new start-up incubator 1776, said they started in D.C. primarily because of their own personal networks.

“[D.C.] is a social city in terms of having loose ties and concentric social circles. People have friends they do charity work with, or grad school, people they work with on the Hill — it made D.C. a really good place to start,” Richardson said. Hinge only connects users who have at least one mutual Facebook friend in common.

Though the app is only available in the Washington area, Richardson and McLeod noticed Hinge’s current network of users has more friends in New York than in any city (other than D.C.) — a few thousand users in New York are already on Hinge’s wait list.

“It’s already set up in the friends-of-friends connections,” Richardson said, adding that New York is a “heavy market in terms of smartphone-using twenty-somethings. The market for those kinds of people is two to four times larger than it is in D.C.”

Richardson and McLeod said they suspect New York may also be a more receptive market than D.C.’s — “the dating culture and the culture of technology early adoption, and trying out new things, are a little more liberal than they are in D.C.,” Richardson said.

The Hinge team has been modifying the original app since launch — it used to allow users to rank their interest in potential matches on a scale from 1-5, but they’ve since simplified it to a simple “up or down” ranking, McLeod said. They recently offered an Android version of the app, which was previously only available for iPhone users.

In the future, the team plans to incorporate third-degree connections — friends of friends of friends — instead of just second-degree connections, and eventually offer upgrades allowing users to unlock content (such as past matches or profile views), the founders said.

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 05/07/2013

 
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