For Thatcher Shultz, finding the right dating app is nearly as difficult as finding the right girl.
Tinder is “awful, just a mess, a waste of time,” laments the 31-year-old CEO and founder of an online automotive business. Hinge is old news: “I went to high school with the founder,” he explains. And Match is a bit too obvious after Shultz agreed to model for the site as a favor for a high-positioned pal there. “I regret doing it,” says Shultz, a Dickinson grad whose cheekbones could slice an apple.
The League, though, is just right.
“[It’s] just a more curated group of people geared towards our demographic, which is 20s and 30s and, you know, who come from a good family,” Shultz says of the ultra-exclusive dating app, which provides users with just five matches a day.
“It’s high-end .?.?. We need that.”
Apparently, so do 30,000 other New Yorkers.
That’s the number of applicants League founder Amanda Bradford’s had since bringing her app to Gotham last month. The number of people accepted thus far? Seven thousand, she says.
The company — the “country club” of dating apps, according to Bradford — uses a secret algorithm to mine potential users’ LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. (Where you went to school and what you do are two of the most important factors in gaining admittance.) A team of seven employees has final approval over the top-tier user base.
“I do think the concept of exclusive, invite-only, hard-to-get-into, wait-in lines — it’s very New York,” says Bradford, 30, whose company weeds out the hoi polloi from the hoity-toity. (The app, which is free, even boasts a concierge service that doles out dating tips and feedback.) “I think it’s a good fit for the mentality here.”
Since the app launched, she has been inundated with pleas from the public.
One mom implored the founder by email to help her soon-to-be 37-year-old daughter who “continues to enter into relationships that have no long-term possibilities: men with children, musicians, foreigners, unemployed artists.”
A 33-year-old man, and a self-professed “pedigree snob,” wrote to Bradford: “Save me from the Tinder cesspool.”
A 20-something Vogue editor has had no fewer than six emails sent on her behalf (she still hasn’t been accepted).
“We’ve had people offer to give us free DJs for parties,” says the 5-foot-9 Bradford, who looks like an extra from MTV’s “The Hills” and graduated from Stanford business school.
“One guy offered his whole roof deck [for a League party]. He had other things going on for him, too, aside from an awesome penthouse,” explains Bradford, who threw an NYC kickoff party for her service at the Jane Hotel in April and is planning another members bash at Montauk hot spot the Surf Lodge in July.
“So we expedited him.”
After all, in the League, square footage is currency — as is a loaded résumé.
Thirty-seven percent of New York Leaguers have graduate degrees, 13 percent are CEOs or founders, and 56 percent have attended what Bradford refers to as “highly selective” schools (i.e., “Ivy League, plus,” she says, of the 40 schools, including the gatekeeper’s undergraduate alma mater, Carnegie Mellon, that made the cut). Bradford says she wouldn’t immediately rule out accepting someone like a restaurant server, but, she admits, “I don’t know how many waitresses have LinkedIn.”
“I think of this more as a power-couple app,” says Bradford, who speaks in a rapid succession of acronyms — HBIC (head bitch in charge), DFMO (dance floor make out) and HMD (hair and makeup done) among them.
“The mission statement of the League is to make Amal Clooney hotter than Kim Kardashian,” she says. “When George Clooney married her, I was like, ‘This is great for the smart and sexy movement!’”
NYU grad Amanda Awad, 29, decided to give the League a chance after a recent breakup and enough Tinder dates to make someone’s head spin.
“I’m turning 30. There’s a lot of catching up to do if [potential suitors] haven’t had the same upbringing that I’ve had,” says Awad, a marketing manager for a tech startup who grew up in Manhattan and summers in Southampton.
“There needs to be some common experience. Not everyone who went to Harvard is smart, but you have to imagine that they’re at least intellectually curious enough to have something to talk about.”
It’s this quest for commonality that inspired Bradford to create the A-list app.
“I saw all these couples forming as soon as we enrolled [at Stanford],” says Bradford, who first launched her company in San Francisco in November. “So people thought, ‘Well, Stanford put their approval on me and Stanford put their approval on you, so we should get together.’ We wanted to mimic that digitally.”
So, how do you get in? There are three ways.
Singles can be referred by current users, which bumps them to the top of the wait list and increases their chance of admittance. They can apply via the app, or they can be scouted by Bradford or one of her ambassadors — “They’re kind of like bouncers,” she says — who pick up eligible singles while out on the town.
Women must be between the ages of 22 and 38; men, between 24 and 44.
“No one wants to date a 22-year-old guy,” Bradford says with a laugh. “And even if I were 22, I wouldn’t want to date a 22-year-old guy. So give them a couple years to grow and get some beer pong out of their system .?.?. the Lower East Side stuff.”
And don’t even think about posting a bare-chested photo of yourself shotgunning beers with your bros.
“We try to remove duck faces, shirtless selfies, any party pic where you’re doing a keg stand,” says Bradford, who is single. “We tried to make it feel a little higher-class.”
The standards don’t stop there. “I love kicking people out,” Bradford says. She’s already ousted one guy for calling a girl a “midget,” another for standing up a date and yet another for asking a girl to perform a sexual act. “There are other apps for that,” she says.
But for Bradford, whose motto is “Heavy petting is greater than heavy vetting,” it’s all worth the extra legwork.
“Girls will email me and be like, ‘I knew these guys existed! Thank you for collecting all the guys I’ve seen while running on the West Side Highway, but never figured out where the hell they are.’ ”
Source: New York Post