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A New League of Daters

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A trendy dating app just launched in Austin, and it promises users a cleaner, more professional onlinedating experience. 

By Amanda Pinney, Photos by Sarah Saltonstall

With taglines such as #getmeoffTinder and #neversettle, it’s no secret The League is positioning itself as an upscale approach to the dating game. With users in Chicago, London, Boston and LA, the app officially debuted in Austin June 27, with the hope of capturing the attention of the city’s young professionals. CEO of The League, Amanda Bradford, sat down with Austin Woman to share the app’s not-so-dirty secrets and let us in on her own dating preferences.

Austin Woman: What were your initial thoughts about the datingapp trend?

Amanda Bradford: When I became single, I had never been in the online-dating scene, and that’s when the Tinder revolution happened. All of the sudden, everyone in my network was on Tinder, and I realized online dating had become an actual thing. The stigma was gone and people were realizing it was a much more efficient way to meet new people.

AW: There are a lot of dating apps out there. What inspired you to create The League?

AB: I was one of the many women who wanted to delete their dating apps. I already had my own issues with the current dating apps because you couldn’t tell whether the person was telling the truth about where they worked or what they were seeking in a relationship. I had a lot of requirements that don’t necessarily show on other online-dating apps, and I wanted to avoid the constant vetting. I was annoyed and I was writing in support tickets to these apps asking them to build these features and integrate with LinkedIn, when I was like, “Why am I telling them? I’m just going to do it.” I knew we could fix a lot of the logistical issues by just requiring a bunch of information up front, so pulling in your LinkedIn and your Facebook, without allowing anyone the opportunity to lie, we make sure everyone on The League is real by doing all the research beforehand. 

AW: Tell us about the atmosphere of The League. How does it differ from other dating apps?

AB: We’ll make sure people’s photos aren’t terrible, so high resolution and not just people wearing sunglasses in every picture, just little things that take away from the quality of the experience. We’re auditing for quality because we want people who want to be here, who want to put their best foot forward. We want people who care about education, intelligence and ambition, and not just people looking for hot arm candy. I felt like a lot of the other apps judge you purely on your looks.

AW: What makes it a dating app for people who hate dating apps?

AB: It’s more efficient. I think the reason a lot of people hate dating is because the process is long and drawn out, and people get so frustrated with it. So, what we’re trying to do is make it more palatable and manageable instead of an endless swipe game. We only give you three to five matches a day, and then you’re done for the day, which women have found to be a lot less stressful. You can check your daily matches and then move on to something else. It makes dating a daily, bite-sized thing instead of this monotonous job.

AW: Whats behind the name The League?

AB: I played a lot of sports growing up and I feel like there is something to be said for being part of this community of people who are all in this game together, and there’s something to be said for the community of single people, a singles’ league. I liked that play of words.

AW: How does including LinkedIn profiles make the user experience more private?

AB: If you work for a company, we wouldn’t show anyone who works at the same place of employment as you, as well as anyone you’re connected to. A lot of women in male-dominated careers really like that, which wasn’t a feature I think anyone thought about. But especially for women who are career-oriented, they are managing men, and that can be a weird dynamic. So, LinkedIn both gives better data and protects people from their first-degree network.

AW: What is the vibe like among the app users?

AB: I think one of the nice things is that because we show your LinkedIn, people are really on their best behavior. We’d had very little bad-behaving users because it’s not anonymous trolling. That doesn’t really happen here because of the transparency and authenticity. Everyone wants to protect his or her professional reputation. I would say we’ve created this curated, respectful community of people that want to be there and are there to find a relationship, whether it’s dating or marriage. It’s people who are there for the right reasons.

AW: We heard the app has a waitlist for each city. How does that work?

AB: The waitlist is designed for a couple of things. It helps to put people on a little bit of a wait because the flaky users don’t want to wait on a waitlist. We also try to make the community pretty diverse, so we want to have different careers, different backgrounds, race, gender and sexual identity. We try to keep the ratio balanced, and some demographics move up [on the list]faster than others. So, it’s a little bit of supply and demand too.

AW: How many people are accepted?

AB: Typically, we select around 2,000 per city and there’s usually been about 8,000 to 10,000 that apply. We try to keep it around a 20 to 30 percent acceptance rate just because there’s something to be said for keeping it small. People value it more, so they end up being better users and better daters. The more selective it is, the higher quality matches people get.

AW: What is the user age range?

AB: When we launched, the 24-to-36 age range was our sweet spot, but it’s definitely expanded as we’ve been out longer and people have heard about it. We’re definitely seeing a huge influx of people who are in the divorced age range, so late 30s and 40s. Our average age is 28, and our second-most popular age range is probably early to mid-30s. For the most part, we try to keep men 24-plus and women 22-plus on our low end. We feel like guys need a couple more years to mature.

AW: Does The League offer any non-dating features?

AB: So, the social-networking aspect is another thing I’m excited about. We added in a lot of features because we got a lot of users who wanted to meet people with the same interests, so we started creating these groups on the app where people could join. The groups are for people who are not super into dating right now or they just got out of a relationship, people who just want to meet new people without jumping into the whole dating with purpose. We try to have a lot of events and meetups to make it more of a community center.

AW: When you’re dating, would you rather the guy make the first move or you make the first move?

AB: I make the first move if I like the guy. If I don’t like the guy, I don’t. When I’m on the app and see someone I’m excited about, I message them. I don’t think about it as whose turn it is, but more of just go for what you want.

AW: Flowers or chocolate?

AB: Flowers because they remind you of them for a couple days after.

AW: Being friends first or love at first sight?

AB: Friends first because a lot of the time, you know what you’re going into and it’s healthier. But love at first sight is more fun.

AW: Dinner or drinks?

AB: Drinks, for sure. I don’t believe in dinner on the first date.

AW: Wine or beer?

AB: Wine.

AW: Cake or ice cream?

AB: Cake with ice cream!

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