20 Fast-Growing Dating Startups

by Josh Howarth - September 10, 2021

Finding love online is commonplace in the modern world, with some data showing that 1 out of every ten adults in the U.S. has found lasting companionship from a dating app.

Even more people (3 in ten American adults) have used these services at some point.

Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that more and more startups are launching dating apps that serve a niche or underserved groups or use science to attempt to provide even better matches.

Those are the recurring themes in this list of 20 growing dating startups.

1. BARE Dating

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5-year search growth: -100%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2019

Location: London, England

Funding: £403.8K (Crowdfunding)

What they do: BARE Dating is a dating app that focuses on authenticity and safety. The app requires identity verification to join and allows users to pursue a variety of relationship types, from flexible to serious connections. BARE Dating was founded by professionals with experience in eCommerce, psychology, brand development, and more, and the company’s leadership team is advised by Gastón Tourn, the former CMO of the dating apps Bumble and Badoo.

2. DNA Romance

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5-year search growth: 145%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Funding: Unknown (Crowdfunding)

What they do: DNA Romance provides online romantic matches by analyzing DNA markers, Meyers-Briggs personality types, natural physical attraction, and shared interests. Users can add an existing raw DNA file from services like Ancestry DNA, 23andMe, Genera, and others, purchase a DNA testing kit from DNA Romance, or receive relationship suggestions with just a personality evaluation. Founders Timothy Sexton, a doctor of population genetics, and businesswoman Judith Bosire first met through internet dating before founding the company in 2014 and launching the service publicly in 2017.

3. So Syncd

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5-year search growth: 9300%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: London, England, United Kingdom

Funding: $1M (Seed)

What they do: So Syncd is a dating app centered on Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality compatibility. The founders, sisters Jessica and Louella Alderson launched the company after realizing the inadequacy of photo-based dating apps that ignored the importance of personality matching. The company was established in 2019 and saw 30,000 signups and a wedding within one year. In 2021, the startup raised $1M with plans to expand in the U.S.

4. Vybe

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5-year search growth: 89%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: Lagos, Nigeria, Africa

Funding: Unknown (Self-funded)

What they do: Vybe is an Africa-based online dating startup. Software engineer founders Osagie Omonzokpia, Moronke Anifowose, and Adetolani Eko wanted to solve the issue of dating app access in Africa and give users a platform more tailored to their unique situation and culture. The company has already seen considerable revenue growth and upwards of 25,000 downloads as of June 2021.

5. CLiKD

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: London, England, United Kingdom

Funding: Unknown (Bootstrapped)

What they do: CLiKD, soon to be rebranded as “klik,” is an internet dating app focused on identifying users’ “dealbreakers” and providing them with compatible matches based on those criteria. In 2017, CLiKD joined the ranks of successful dating apps Match.com, Bumble, and Tinder when they were recognized at the U.K. Dating Awards for their innovation.

6. Tinder

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5-year search growth: 66%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2012

Location: Los Angeles, California

Funding: $50M (Undisclosed)

What they do: Tinder is a widely known dating app that lets people upload photographs and “swipe” through other users’ images. When two users “Swipe Right®,” they are matched. Part of the Match Group, which also owns PlentyOfFish, Hinge, and OkCupid, Tinder is still a private company. While the company’s revenue was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, they still saw an 18 percent rise from 2019 to 2020, bringing total annual revenue to $1.4B.

7. Snack

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2020

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Funding: $3.5M (Seed)

What they do: Snack is a video-based dating app catering to a Generation Z audience. Users post videos of themselves that other users can use to get a sense of someone’s personality. Like Tinder, when users express mutual interest in each other’s content, they can connect. Founder Kim Kaplan previously worked at another dating industry heavyweight, PlentyOfFish, which was bought for $575M by Match Group. On top of the company’s early-2021 investment of $3.5M, they are now accepting contributions from angel investors and others.

8. Tawkify

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5-year search growth: 203%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2012

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: Unknown (Seed)

What they do: Tawkify is a matchmaking service that offloads the time commitment and manual effort generally associated with dating apps. Turning the model of Tinder and other similar apps on its head, Tawkify uses human matchmakers to assess connections between users. Stanford alum Kenneth Shaw, who previously created Homeslyce and the My Purity Test Facebook App, co-founded Tawkify with established advice columnist E. Jean Carroll.

9. Hinge

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5-year search growth: 493%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2011

Location: New York City, New York

Funding: $20.6M (Acquired)

What they do: Hinge describes itself as a dating app that’s “designed to be deleted.” The internet relationship startup, founded by Harvard Business School graduate Justin McLeod, has millions of users and was acquired in 2019 by Match Group. Like other similar dating apps, Hinge established COVID-19 vaccination verification in mid-2021.

10. Lex

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: New York City, New York

Funding: $3.1M (Seed)

What they do: Lex caters to a queer audience, including people that identify as non-binary or transgender. The text-based app prioritizes personality and cleverness over appearance and offers an alternative to other dating apps that may focus on the straight community. The concept, brought into reality by founder Kell Rakowski, is based on retro newspaper personal ads and has received funding from writer Roxane Gay, dating app founder Amanda Bradford, Bonobos co-founder Andy Dunn, and others.

11. AntiLand

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5-year search growth: 4800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Los Gatos, California

Funding: $250K (Seed)

What they do: AntiLand is a chat room platform for making connections, both romantic and platonic. User activity is policed by a system where people gain “karma” for using the app as intended to connect with others and lose “karma” for receiving complaints or engaging in improper conduct. The company, founded by entrepreneur Nick Halavins, was honored at the 2019 Silicon Valley Open Doors Technology Investment Conference with the Social Impact award.

12. Thursday

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: London, England

Funding: £2.6M (Seed)

What they do: Thursday is a dating app named for the one weekday that its services are offered. The intention behind the platform is to help people find love without neglecting their life outside of dating apps. Newly launched in May 2021, the app has already brought in around $3.5M in a seed fundraising round from venture capital firms and angel investors, including Wandera founder Eldar Tuvey and Monzo founder Tom Blomfield.

13. HER

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5-year search growth: 66%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $2M (Seed)

What they do: HER is an online dating startup geared towards an LGBTQ+ audience. The app offers a unique community for queer individuals to meet and socialize both online and in person. Founder Robyn Exton started the company in 2013 with roughly $20,000 of personal funds after being unimpressed with the online dating options available for lesbians and wanting a more tailored option.

14. Taimi

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5-year search growth: 47%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Funding: Unknown

What they do: Taimi is an app that enables an LGBTQ+ audience to make friends and find romantic partners. The app, which boasts over 11.5M users, was originally founded by Alex Pasykov as an online dating site for the gay community. Over time, Pasykov expanded the vision to provide a safe space for other individuals under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.

15. S’More

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5-year search growth: 226%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: New York City, New York

Funding:​​ $3.2M (Seed)

What they do: S’More is a dating startup that prioritizes personality and plays down appearances by kicking off connections with blurred photographs that reveal more details through interactions. The “anti-superficial” app has raised over $3M in seed funding with a $2.1M round in early 2021.

16. Struck

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: Los Angeles, California

Funding: Unknown

What they do: Struck takes the age-old practice of synastry—matchmaking through astrological birth chart comparison—into the 21st century in their dating app, available in the U.S. and Canada. The app was initially denied multiple times for inclusion on the Apple App Store because of its resemblance to “fortune-telling apps” and other apps that are already overrepresented in the marketplace. While no data readily exists on total funding, Struck wouldn’t be the first New Age startup to secure venture capital interest. Astrology apps Sanctuary and Co-Star received $3M and $15M in 2021, respectively.

17. Raya

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5-year search growth: 575%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Los Angeles, California

Funding: Unknown

What they do: Raya is a dating app geared at the elite, rich, and famous, with clientele including Matthew Perry, Demi Lovato, Amy Schumer, Drew Barrymore, and Channing Tatum. Unsurprisingly, the app features a highly selective application process with an acceptance rate of just 8%. Though the app is secretive by design (even screenshots of its inner workings aren’t allowed), it has brought considerable wealth to its founder Daniel Gendelman and secured the interest of early investor Jared Morgenstern, former Facebook employee, now-Raya COO.

18. Hans Matrimony

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: Delhi, India

Funding: Unknown

What they do: Hans Matrimony offers online relationship-pairing services for cultures and people who engage in kundali (AKA horoscope) matchmaking. The app, founded by Sagar Dewan, who also founded the dating app Twango, gives its clientele an easy, digitally assisted alternative for pairing people with the right matches.

19. Salt

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5-year search growth: 5800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: London, England, United Kingdom

Funding: Unknown

What they do: SALT is a dating startup geared toward a Christian audience. Users post their bios, which other users can “like,” triggering a match if both users react in the same way. The app was founded in 2018 and launched in 2021 by Paul Rider, formerly a fintech professional. Though total funding is not listed, the app reportedly brought in an early funding amount of $370K.

20. Heart Rate Social

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5-year search growth: 16%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: Austin, Texas

Funding: ~$200K (Crowdfunding and unknown sources)

What they do: Heart Rate Social enables romantic and social connections between users based on a mutual love of fitness and exercise. The Austin-based app brought in $200K pre-launch and is currently fundraising on MicroVentures. At the moment, they boast over 2,600 users and nearly 3,000 downloads.

Conclusion

While much of the world still remembers a time when dating and connections happened offline, internet dating is now a widely accepted way to find lasting romantic relationships, not just flings or hookups.

The startups listed here are evidence that people today are interested in exploring matching services that go beyond surface-level attributes and aim to bring individuals together based on everything from birth charts to religion to DNA profiles.

Additionally, several of these dating apps focus specifically on catering to an LGBTQ+ audience.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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