| Arizona Republic
A new dating app aims to cure the problem of dead-end conversations between users as it expands to Phoenix, the first market it’s testing outside of San Francisco.
There’s a “surge of singleness thanks to months of physical isolation,” according to a press release from dating app Flutter. And founder and CEO Clay Jones wants Flutter to be where metro Phoenix residents can connect online while many venues where they used to meet are unavailable during the new coronavirus pandemic.
Jones designed the app with the idea for users to “feel present,” with the goal of exchanging contact information and continuing a conversation past the app, by setting a time limit of several hours on messaging in order to encourage responsiveness.
For now, Flutter’s early access group — its “VIP community” — comprises mostly a few hundred professional athletes, influencers, entrepreneurs, celebrities and people who were involved in Scottsdale’s nightlife scene before the pandemic hit.
It’s not the clubs in Old Town Scottsdale, but it’ll have to do.
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People can sign up to join the waitlist, and some might be admitted to the early access group, with priority given to those referred by existing members.
“We do review people that the community does invite to ensure that they should be added to the early access group, and that’s just kind of standard — making sure they have real photos,” Jones said. “We do some fraud verification to make sure all the profiles are legitimate and verified.”
Otherwise, the app plans to launch more widely in Phoenix later this year and accept those on the waitlist.
Flutter aims to ‘cure ghosting and unresponsiveness’
When Jones, newly single, downloaded a suite of dating apps several years ago, he found it difficult to have engaging conversations with his matches.
“I’d always interpreted lack of responsiveness to disinterest,” Jones said. “I think we’ve all been in the situation where we send a message to someone, and it takes them a day to respond, and we start second-guessing and getting self-conscious about why they might not be responding to us.”
The secret to a successful match, he came to learn, was exchanging contact information early on in a conversation.
“The dating app is actually not where the relationship is meant to be had,” he said. “You’re actually supposed to really try to progress past the dating app as quickly as possible.”
“Online dating is a real place to meet someone,” he said.
That’s why Flutter aims to “cure ghosting and unresponsiveness” by making sure users are online at the same time.
How Flutter is different from other dating apps
The app’s model is to schedule live events on certain nights, which users can opt into and commit to being engaged throughout the evening.
When these users open the app, they will be shown profiles of people the app deems the most compatible, with the option to tap “like” or “dislike.” At 6 p.m., the app presents users with their matches for the evening as well as users who liked them but whose profiles were not shown earlier that day.
They then have until midnight to exchange messages. The chat expires, and if two users have not exchanged phone numbers by then, they will not have another opportunity to continue the conversation.
“There needs to be (a feeling of) urgency,” Jones said. “We want to make sure people really feel present.”
What a Flutter user thinks of the app
Yasmine Higbee, 25, is one of the early adopters whom Flutter reached out to while building its VIP community.
Higbee divides her time between Scottsdale and Dallas as a full-time consultant at a business and technology consulting firm and a fitness blogger with her own business, Goddess Athletics. She joined the first two events in August and September, exchanging some conversations with her matches but not moving beyond the app.
She hasn’t been able to meet people at bars and clubs in Scottsdale like she did before COVID-19. Now she’s able to meet them online.
“Flutter is similar to Raya but a little more exclusive than Tinder or Hinge,” Higbee said.
Raya is a dating and networking app with an exclusive community. Applications to join “are assessed based on algorithmic values and input from hundreds of committee members spread throughout the world,” according to its website. It also has membership fees.
Dating apps like OkCupid, eHarmony, Tinder and Hinge are free to use but offer premium elements at an added cost. Flutter is currently free.
The people Higbee sees on Raya are “influencers and celebrities, people of that caliber,” she said. But the “same 20 people get recycled,” she added.
Given Flutter’s relatively small user base right now, Higbee did see a number of people on the app whom she already knows — or knows of — in Scottsdale. Most people in the early access group were either contacted directly by Flutter or received a referral code from an early-adopter friend.
“I’ve seen different people (on Flutter). I haven’t seen too many of the same people over and over,” she said. “Everyone has a great career or is well connected.”
“There’s also diversity with ethnicity, religion, race,” she said, based on the two events she joined.
She sees Flutter as a middle of the road between Tinder and Raya.
“I feel the people are a little more high caliber” on Flutter, she said. “It’s more realistic to date someone with (a similar) lifestyle.”
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Who’s using Flutter now?
In metro Phoenix, about 400 people are using Flutter, many of them in Scottsdale. More than 10,000 people are waiting to be added. The app is limiting its early access group as it finds its footing in Arizona.
“We’re over here building our community right now within Phoenix, more specifically Scottsdale, to ensure that the community is growing properly,” Jones said.
Flutter’s target demographic is young adults in the 22 to 30 age range, and the waitlist is expanding primarily by word of mouth, Jones said. Many of the people they initially reached out to in the Valley were “very involved with nightlife,” and those people referred their networks to the dating app.
“What we’re doing, in the beginning, is finding a group that we believe is very compatible and approachable,” Jones said. “We want to make sure that there is a community that has already taken a liking to one another” before opening it up to more members.
A number of Flutter users have some level of celebrity or recognition in the Valley.
Of the users who took part in the first event on Aug. 30, 31% were verified on Instagram, according to a representative. Higbee has 64,000 followers on Instagram.
More:Here are the top 25 most-followed people in Arizona on Instagram
How to get on Flutter
Jones hopes to open Flutter’s dating pool to more users around Phoenix by the end of the year.
New users can sign up to join the waitlist in the app. Flutter is currently available for download on iOS devices in the Apple App Store. It is not yet available on Android devices.
“New users will be placed on the waitlist, but depending on the circumstance, there is always a chance that they may be accepted into early access,” a representative said.
For more information, visit https://www.flutterdating.com.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 602-444-4968. Follow her on Twitter @kimirobin and Instagram @ReporterKiMi.
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