Dating is hard, especially if you’re demanding, driven and looking for a significant other with aspirations like yours. The League, a dating app recently acquired by Match Group, is introducing “Goaldiggers,” a new campaign to target high achievers. Founder and CEO Amanda Bradford tells D2C Insider why the app is so picky.
D2C Insider: What made you start the League?
Amanda Bradford: In college, I dipped my toe into online dating and found a lot to be desired. I’d see someone and spend lots of time trying to find out more about them, looking them up on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I always wanted more context and more background. All the apps focused on “hot or not,” and I wanted more. If you’re dating because you eventually want to get married and have a family, you want to know more than how tall they are or what they look like.
And then, at business school at Stanford, I realized 40 people in my class of 300 had partnered up. I wanted to build a digital platform that enabled like-minded people to meet without having to spend $100,000 and go to graduate school. We integrated with LinkedIn, which has been a big differentiator for us. Also, I required everyone to fill out an application -- as if you were applying to business school.
D2C Insider: How many people do you reject?
Bradford: It varies by location. But we accept about 20% to 30% of the applications. We’ve cultivated that "no shirt, no shoes, no service" vibe. I wanted high-quality users, not tire-kickers. If people don’t put the effort into filling out the application -- for example, we require three photos that show your face -- we don’t want them. We want to make this a premium experience where you feel like you're at a dinner party, not an all-you-can-drink Cancun Bar. I wanted to make people feel proud to be part of this community. I want people to know they’ve joined a group of ambitious men and women who value that trait in each other.
D2C Insider: Aren’t many of your customers on other dating apps, so -- in other words -- aren’t they all at the same dinner party?
Bradford: Yes, they are. But the League is a different environment. You probably have a better chance of getting to know someone at a friend’s house than meeting them at a concert. That’s why the League gives you three people a day, or five if you pay for a different tier. We’re not asking you to swipe, swipe, swipe. We’ll never beat Tinder for the number of people. But our hit rate is higher.
We also try to keep the community relevant, whether or not you're still single. We have mixers and groups of people who like hiking, rock climbing, or karaoke. It’s a community of like-minded friends, so you don’t have to delete the app once you find someone.
D2C Insider: People have criticized the League for being elitist.
Bradford: It’s been even more polarizing than I thought when I launched. The two biggest competitors to dating apps are meeting someone in the workplace or at university. Both of those require an application. When I was at Google, it was something like only 1% of applicants got hired. So, I reject the premise that by being selective, you're inherently elitist. If we don't have standards, it will quickly devolve into the kind of app where people's photos don't even show their faces or no one includes information about what they do or how they spend their time. This campaign pushes that idea.
D2C Insider: The campaign, from Humanaut, has lots of out-of-home elements, in New York and LAX. And Humanaut also added a goal-matching feature, like “Get a Ph.D. in something I know nothing about,” “Become less terrible at surfing,” or “Run a marathon. Okay, maybe a half marathon.” How does the goal checklist change the dating experience?
Bradford: My favorite is to “stop sleeping on my face.” The idea is that when we say we want goal-driven people, that doesn’t mean people who work 80 hours a week. Their goal may be to get healthier and in better physical shape or find a more balanced life. And it’s a bit of wordplay to push against this idea of gold diggers, people looking for men and women who make more than they do. In our membership, more women than men have advanced degrees. More women than men tell us they want a prenup when they marry.
D2C Insider: Besides getting more users, what is the campaign's goal?
Bradford: I want people to recognize that the League is about ambition, not elitism. It’s not about what you do or where you went to school, but what you want to accomplish. And that it’s essential to find partners who support you in achieving your goals, and have ambitions of their own -- whether to write a novel in their spare time or walk for a few hours a day. We’re not for workaholics or people who want to take their company publicly for a billion dollars. We’re for people with goals, who know how to prioritize them.