When Robyn Exton set out to create HER, a social platform and dating app built by women for gay and bi-curious women, she realized that the majority (if not all) of the current dating sites in existence for either straight or gay people were primarily designed with men in mind.
“I thought it was ridiculous nobody had yet developed a dating app that was designed by and specifically for gay or bi-curious women,” she says. “That’s how it all kind of started.”
HER was originally launched as a pure play lesbian dating app two years ago under the neologism “Dattch.” Exton noticed about 30 percent of users were already in a relationship, but still wanted to be kept up on what was happening in their respective scenes. So after tweaks and re-branding (Exton’s background is in brand consulting), and launches in the UK, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, HER officially launched in Boston this past weekend. According to Exton the Hub was a logical choice, as Boston was one of the top cities regularly called for.
“Our girls don’t meet up for average of 10 days, so there’s a much longer time when they need to be chatting to each other,” she says. “When you just have a picture of a face you have nothing to talk about, so our profiles use content and local events to help girls meet each other and talk.”
Exton adds with a laugh: “It’s got all the lesbians, and everything that connects the lesbian community [online].”
Once users download the app, profiles are presented one at a time. But instead of just a profile picture and a swipe-left or swipe-right interface, the profiles incorporate Instagram and Pinterest sensibilities, with multiple photos, personal descriptions, and community social events “pinned” to a profile. Once users “like” one another, messages can be sent, and dialogues can begin. Additionally, the main website has a blog featuring a spread of lesbian lifestyle content that’s a mix of geo-specific topical articles and more generalized filler (ie: “Lesbians and their pets”).
In cities where HER is live and boasting an active community of users (she remains mum on user numbers), Exton says the response has been extremely positive from the LGBTQ community.
“I love that girls come up and say, ‘I had no idea if I was gay or straight. I was just interested. And now I’ve met a girl who I’m dating, and I still don’t know if I’m gay or straight but at least there’s a community where I can do that and be me,’” she says. “Then we’ve had people getting married … showing tattoos they got, or the cat they got together.”