YOU CAN GET anything on an app these days.
Food, clothes, stylist appointments, baes… yup. By now, app-dating has become so prevalent in today’s dating culture that it seems almost strange when you hear someone hasn’t used one. Amanda Bradford suddenly found herself single and decided she would check out the digital dating pool, but she noticed something that just wasn’t there when she found herself swiping left and right and consistently running across people she worked with. What was missing? Well, people who had the same qualifications and achievements as her colleagues did, but who she wouldn’t run into at a board meeting. The Stanford MBA graduate decided to take matters into her own hands by creating an app called The League. If you haven’t (yet) heard of it, The League, which uses both Facebook and LinkedIn to match daters so personal and professional lives are kept separate, targets users who shy away from using other dating apps because they find themselves concerned with issues of privacy and success. Bradford spoke with Lady Clever about mixing her business with pleasure, and why a curated dating community is not elitist.
What inspired you to start The League?
I realized how critical mobile dating was becoming to our generation and that there was a huge gap in the market for an app that made people feel human, respected privacy (especially from coworkers/business contacts), where users treated each other with respect, and where you actually met the kind of people that you WISHED you could meet in real life, but just never crossed paths with.
Through interviews, I found that the more successful someone was in their career, the less likely they were to be on a dating app – and I felt like that was a shame and a missed opportunity — a huge business opportunity. I wanted to target a new demographic of people who weren’t using any dating app for the reasons above based on our conversations with many of the early users – thus addressing a need that had not previously been addressed in the market.
Have you gotten any sort of backlash as a woman starting a dating app?
I think it’s actually helped me immensely. The best entrepreneurs are the ones who design solutions to their own problems, and that is exactly what I did. I came up with the idea when I became single and I tried dating apps for the first time. I was frustrated by the superficiality of the dating apps out there today — I really wanted to know more about each person than just what they looked like. I was also frustrated by the lack of privacy. The last thing I wanted was for my coworkers, my boss, or someone I was doing business with to stumble across my dating profile. I really wanted to keep a strong separation between “work” and “personal.” Thus, the League was born. If people are curious as to whether I designed a product for myself — well, I did!
I think in addition to love, you need to have mutual respect for each other for a solid relationship. I could care less about money (although having enough money to live on is useful, no-one can deny that!). I believe two people sharing ambitions, and the hunger and drive to go after what they want while inspiring each other along the way, is the best kind of match. We have men and women in The League who work for nonprofits like Change.org and Teach for America, as well as entrepreneurs building social enterprise startups and micro-lending platforms for third-world countries — these people are sacrificing income to go after passion and, to me, that’s sexier than a six figure salary.
What do you think of some of criticism that The League has received calling it shallow or elitist?
I don’t think a curated community should have to mean elitist. Every good college curates their students. Every good company curates their employees. I don’t see why a dating community can’t also do the same for its daters. When the press got wind of The League back in September, they immediately classified us as an elitist dating app — partially because of the name, partially because of my background and the fact that I’m a Stanford MBA, and partially because of the fact that we are curating the community and keeping our admissions standards high. People in the League are not just Harvard MBAs making six-figure salaries. It’s a diverse set of interesting people from all industries and education backgrounds. It’s just a great group of passionate, intelligent people who are doing interesting things — and we want to keep it that way.
How have women in particular responded to The League?
Smart, career-oriented women love the concept of The League because it was designed exactly for them! The privacy from co-workers and business connections that we offer is huge — it’s a weird situation as a female in a male-oriented work environment. You want to keep your work brand and your dating life separate.
Our waiting list is 60% female but our community is 50/50. The guys on The League are the ones that want to date smart ambitious women, so the confident guys that can handle dating a successful woman self-select in.
I know The League is still fairly new, but do you have any data on matches or success stories you can share?
We don’t have any marriages yet, but we do have 2 very exciting engagements and quite a few people who are in pretty serious relationships. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling. It is also very rewarding when someone writes in that they have been “out of the game” for some time and are enjoying getting back into dating through The League. Online dating is about opening yourself up to the opportunity to find love, friendship, and partnership. Helping to opening up users to the potential to fall in love — that is success in itself.
Is The League only for heterosexual users?
Nope, not in the slightest. The League has a pretty large LGBT community (8% in NYC!) and it continues to grow every day.
Well! That proves it — Bradford and her app are truly in a league of their own.
The League is currently available for iPhone and will roll out on Android soon. Download The League and find out more about The League on their website. Keep up with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Cover Image Credit: Travis W. Keyes