If you’re a woman who hates dating apps — blame it on VC’s who think you love them.
Investors exist to make money, especially when there’s a big market problem.
In places like NY where investors are partial to techy techy stuff like fin-tech and enterprise startups, or invest in another “saas content marketing” blah blah blah…they have no desire to invest in products to serve the most basic human need: love.
In fact, just a couple weeks ago on Valentines day, Techcrunch wrote about this with the clever title: “VC’s swipe left on dating apps.”
Last year I launched an app that *could* be used for dating (as well as for making new friends, or connecting with people for networking purposes) aimed at creating a more comfortable experience for single women who use it — who by the way, outnumber single men in America, especially at the millennial age.
Nearly all the VC’s I connected with (some top names in VC actually) focused on the dating angle…and shared some of the most fascinating (edit: bizarre) insight. Important to note: about 95% of them were men, and had never used a dating app before.
Their main general comment on why they don’t invest in dating apps, particularly one that’s aimed at making it more comfy for women is ….
“Women are already happy with dating apps because millions of women are using them”
And the reaction of nearly every woman on a dating app I share this with is usually this:
Followed by this:
And usually ending with this:
So if there’s millions of women on dating apps, what’s the problem then?
Dating apps have literally become a game where nobody wins.
Back in the stone age of tech (pre swipe dating apps), you went to a dating site, filled out a profile, engaged in messages through the platform, eventually met, and had a date.
The swipe game changed it all.
Instead of spending time getting to know someone you connected with, swipes pull users into making more swipes for an endless game of swipes.
This game has literally made its way to Apple TV, and for people really looking for love, its cringeworthy.
As a result, while women on these apps have plenty of “likes” from men who swipe right to see if women like them back, men primarily do it for an ego boost, leaving 93% of women they match with getting no messages & feeling like: “dude, you need to follow through when you swipe right.”
Fast swipes also gave way to fast hookup expectations on women, where the women who do get messages, often get messages like this:
One of the most incredible things that a VC told me as “advice”— was to downplay or completely remove from my deck any mention of the rampant harassment that women get from many swipe dating apps, i.e., one of the biggest pain points for women users.
But I digress…
Oh and there was that one male VC who tried to infer that I was passionate about this problem as a founder, because I just so happen to be a black woman…
But I digress again…
This swipe issue dubbed a “cycle of loneliness” inspired the Founder of Hinge to remove swipes as damage control to what swipes largely do: make it useless for getting real dates. If you’re a women tired of dealing with “games” on swipe dating apps, guess what: it was created by a man to be just that — a game.
Of course there’s exceptions to the date tech problem, and I know someone getting married from the big “T”, but that’s the exception, not the norm. And sure Bumble took an interesting stab on date tech to help women, but there’s room for improvement and their female-friend angle has nuances too.
A few of the male vc’s (including one of the most revered out there)and a top women vc I linked with alternatively said they don’t invest in dating apps because they never have before. While I get that some investors have strict verticals, for the investors that do keep a diverse portfolio, — doesn’t making investments in innovation, by definition, require you to make investments in things you never invested in before?
VC’s made a lot of investments in artificial intelligence last year, so it shows they’re likely making investments in things they never invested in before — but probably on things that might sound cooler to name drop at their next VC dinner (which hopefully won’t end humanity).
The bottom line I hope investors pay close attention to: Date tech is badly in need of disruption.
Of course they should invest in“techy techy” stuff & AI, but the basic need for human love is never going away, and with a common belief in vc that hitting 20% return on investments is “respectable,” bets are missed 80% of the time. VC’s who open their eyes to investments that are targeting markets they don’t understand may get a competitive advantage — esp ones with female founders.
The market & the opportunity is there for date tech & if you give the user a good experience (which women users are craving badly), chances are they’ll come back when they need it again & nudge others to try because it worked before.
And even if a user happens to find ever lasting love and never returns, there will never (ever) be a shortage of new people looking for love.
And if for some reason you’re reading this & still aren’t convinced that women want date tech innovation, brace yourself, & spend a minute scrolling through this.