HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — It’s 2017, and the state of online dating is almost laughable. Ask anybody who’s dedicated any significant amount of time to finding their match on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, OKCupid or any other dating app, and you’re bound to hear a myriad of horror stories of flakes, catfishes and downright creeps.
But despite all of the noise in the online dating space, one relatively new and ultra-exclusive app claims to be different from the rest, and it has set its sights on Houston.
The League bills itself as an ultra exclusive service with “no voyeurs, no randoms, no games, no fakes, no noise and no shame.” It vets potential users through their Facebook and Linkedin accounts to verify employment and education claims, after which point registrants must be additionally vetted by a human being before they are accepted into the service.
“We look for singles with drive and ambition. We call it an app for aspiring power couples,” The League founder and CEO Amanda Bradford told ABC13. “We look at where someone went to school, what jobs they’ve had and we really look at that couple with an intent to actually be in a relationship.”
Bradford said inefficient, frustrating and overall “pretty terrible” experiences on other dating apps encouraged her to launch The League – and she is a walking testimonial for the service. Bradford said she is currently in a relationship with somebody she met through The League, which has been operating on several other major cities since 2014.
For those still looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, The League officially launches in Houston on June 27. Approximately 300 of the more than 7,300 Houston-area applicants were invited to Rosemont, a rooftop bar in Montrose, on June 20 for a taste of the app’s founding class – and the preview of what’s to come didn’t disappoint those who came out.
“I tried Tinder for 30 minutes. It didn’t work,” quipped 30-year-old Kyra, an attorney who graduated from South Texas College of Law. “This is a really good vibe. I’ve met a couple cool guys, a couple cool girls, too – we could be friends. You never know.”
The surprisingly diverse crowd at the launch party was comprised of professionals of all fields, from attorneys like Kyra to investment bankers and tech executives to grad students, like 24-year-old Nick McDaniel.
“There’s a lot of fakes. You never really know who it is,” McDaniel said of his experience with other dating apps. “The fact that [The League ]connects with LinkedIn – as a professional, it helps.”
“[The crowd] is a little bit older…overall, it’s more business casual tonight. It’s not like a Saturday night a bar,” he added.
For as large of a city as Houston is, an unexpected amount of attendees told ABC13 they were either invited to the launch party by a friend in a city where The League has already launched or they recognized people at the event.
“A friend from New York told me about it,” said engineer Oteta Ogbam. “I read an article on BuzzFeed that gave me a kind of stuck-up impression, that’s how it came off to me, but it’s not been that way. People have been really friendly and open. It’s been really nice.”
And Ogbam isn’t alone in his initial perception of The League – the service has come under fire for being exclusionary and elitist based on its vetting practices, claims that Bradford say are misconstrued.
“We’re not necessarily excluding people, we are keeping the community small to bring people in slowly and gradually to keep the community diverse,” she said. “We are being conscientious with our growth model and choose people who will be good users and embody the growth models of the community.”
But what about those who are looking to get into the exclusive club and don’t feel like they have the requisite resume? Bradford said the key to admission lies in how users construct their profiles.
“You are building a marketing campaign for yourself,” she explained. “Think strategically about the photos that you choose. Make sure that you’ve really filled out your profile, because that really makes the case that you’re there for a purpose.”
“Put a lot of humor and personality in it. Put your cards on the table,” she advised. “Show off who you are.”