Dating apps have become the modern singles scene—the place to meet, mingle and swipe for love—but there’s a new app in town that has the strictest velvet rope policy we’ve ever seen. Move over Tinder, the most exclusive dating app is The League. The highly-selective app launched in San Francisco earlier this year and has been rolled out in New York City. Founded by Stanford grad Amanda Bradford, The League breaks through the clutter of millions of daters and searches for ambitious professionals. How? Using a secret algorithm, The League scans your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles—you input both when you sign up--to determine whether you’re one of the chosen people.
When it launched in New York City, the app allowed only 2,500 users. Compare this to Tinder’s 50 million worldwide users. I spoke to The League’s boss lady Amanda to get the skinny on the app—and how I can get off the notorious wait list (on which I am #113,364!)
Why did you create The League?
I created The League because I had never done online dating before -- and when I tried it, I was incredibly disappointed in the dating apps. First, my dating profile was blasted to anyone and everyone, so coworkers, business connections, and Facebook friends were all swiping at me. Zero privacy. That was not cool (especially as I worked with a bunch of dudes and my dating profile was not exactly how I wanted them to think about me).
Second, the guys I saw on the app were not the kind of guys I was interested in dating - to be totally frank. Half of them were backpackers/tourists in town for the weekend looking for a girl to meet up with, and the others, well, let's just say it was questionable as to their intelligence and/or ambition level. I wanted to meet the smart, ambitious, polite and put-together guys I had met in college, grad school or at the old companies I worked at. I wanted an app that pooled all these people together rather than presenting me with guys that I’d never meet up with in real life.
Amanda Bradford, Founder of The League
The League has gotten a lot of attention for its exclusivity. We are 113,364th on the wait list. Why is selectivity important?
Because that’s how you get people to step up their game a notch! Think of how long people spend on applications for things that matter to them - college, scholarships, job interviews, etc. Dating and meeting someone - who may end up being THE ONE - should also be something that people take seriously and put their best foot forward.
Online dating shouldn’t be about who ‘winks’ at you or throws a ‘charm’ at you the fastest. The goal is to quickly ascertain if you’d be attracted to them both physically and intellectually, find common ground (quickly) via messaging, and get offline STAT to see if there’s a spark or connection. By keeping The League selective, we build a brand that stands for quality and where people feel comfortable transitioning offline as soon as possible.
How do users get selected?
We have an internal system that shortlists groups of users based on a variety of factors: degree, education institution, professional title (or past professions), industry, number of referrals, and, finally, the number of users inside that fit their preferences (e.g. if you’re extremely picky you may wait much longer). We then have a team of specialists that review profile photos and selects the draft for that day or week.
So who is the ideal female user for The League?
A #girlboss. Leaguewomen are intelligent, independent, ambitious, career-oriented, incredibly busy, know how to put themselves together and, most importantly, have high standards for the guys that they choose to spend their time with.
So let’s say you join The League and get wait-listed. What can we do—if anything- to be prioritized?
Clear photos (nobody wants to hunt around to find out what you look like) and getting recommended by a current League member are hugely valuable to us. We also look at your ‘About Me’ and ‘Interests’ pretty closely - if you do something extra, like work with nonprofits or have your own blog, tell us that!
Many dating apps--especially Tinder--focus on fun and have the reputation of being a "game" over finding dates or real relationships. Ideally, what do you want women and men to use The League for?
Well, we are not for one-night stands, that’s for sure. But other than that, I’m not going to tell people how to use The League. I like to think of it as casual dating with the possibility for more if things go well.
We’ve had users date for six days, six weeks, and six months from The League, and a few engagements!
Do you have any tips for women using The League?
Yes - See the our ‘10 things that are #soNotLeague here. But besides things on this list, I think women need to 1) be comfortable sending the first message and 2) think of dating as a chance to understand themselves better and not take things so seriously - don’t get too crushed if someone flakes on you or doesn’t respond.
We try to prevent that stuff as much as possible, but at the end of the day, dating is about timing, so it's never going to be perfect. Have fun with it, meet new people, and enjoy the process! You'll learn a ton about yourself :)