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"We talked to a lot of people, including founders of other dating sites, and gay women we were friends with," Tessler says. When Tessler decided to start online matchmaking service The Dating Ring two years ago, she couldn't get nearly enough gay women to match with the few gay women who had signed up for the service.Lauren Kay, co-founder of the Dating Ring, says it is a bit of a chicken or egg situation."Getting funding for a dating app is very, very hard.The wide range of identities of women-seeking-women not only makes it hard to sign up for apps that only have three options (straight, lesbian, bisexual) but could also explain why the majority of the queer women I spoke to say they prefer to meet dates through friends."I build everything on trust," my friend Valey, 27, who meets other women through friends IRL, told me.Everyone and their brother has their own dating app, and investors often aren't interested in this space," Kay says."Even if you had a team working really hard for a year on building the best LGBT app out there, but even after all of their work, they only had 1,000 users — then due to that small pool, users probably wouldn't get great matches, and they'd hate the app and not refer their friends, and then it would die."Andrew Chen, an advisor/investor for tech startups including Dropbox, wrote on his blog that in general, it's hard for any dating app to attract interest from investors.
All this partner-vetting isn't to say all lesbians are serial monogamists.
"On one hand, it's great that these girls have a venue in which to explore their sexuality safely, but on the other hand, I've learned a few times on first dates with women I met online that they've never been with a woman before," she says.
"This is not necessarily a problem, but sometimes it's hard to gauge if someone is feeling experimental versus being very much past that stage." A straight-identifying friend even told me she sometimes turns her Tinder to women-seeking-women to chat with women even though she'd "probably never do anything." Enough false-positive matches like that would turn anyone off.
Dinesh Moorjani, co-founder of Tinder and CEO of Hatch Labs Inc.
where Tinder was created, says that another reason lesbian dating apps may have failed to prosper could be that investors don't see that 3.4 percent of America as a large enough market to tackle (never mind that gay and bi men make up about the same proportion of the population as gay and bi women, and Grindr has 10 times the users of Her).