Tinder, the simple and addictive matchmaking app that launched just 16 months ago at a University of Southern California party, took home the Crunchie award for best new startup last night. I pulled aside Tinder’s co-founders Sean Rad, Justin Mateen, and Jonathan Badeen for a brief interview to discuss the massive success the app saw in 2013 and its outlook for the future — and the trio made it very clear that Tinder has some big plans for its next chapter.
Tinder first caught fire with hookup-minded young people on American college campuses. But recent months have seen the app’s scope expand significantly: ”We’re really focused on international growth right now,” Mateen said, noting that Tinder has added 1 million new users in the UK in the past two months alone, with solid growth in Brazil as well. Tinder has also seen more diversity in terms of age, he said, noting that early on more than 90 percent of Tinder’s user base was between 18 and 24, but today that age bracket makes up just 50 percent of the app’s users.
Tinder’s expansion plans don’t stop at adding new countries and age brackets. CEO Sean Rad has made it very clear in recent months that he believes Tinder’s core technology could be used for more than just romantic matchmaking, and last night, he dropped some strong hints that we could see Tinder stretch much further beyond the dating space very soon. Rad said:
“We’re all about connecting people and creating an introduction, no matter what the contexts are. And solving the problems that you face when you meet somebody new. The problems that we’re solving are universal, whether you want to meet somebody for romantic purposes, or for a business relationship, or a friendship, you’re put in this position where you’re either a hunter going after a relationship and you feel rejected and you put yourself out there, or you’re being bombarded and people are coming after you, and you feel just overwhelmed.
Tinder’s all about filtering through that noise and just letting people who want to communicate with each other communicate. …We’re launching something very soon that will answer some [more ] of the questions.”
It seems that a more buttoned-up version of the Tinder experience is on its way. On the surface it may seem like a stretch for the same technology that connects drunken dorm room hookups to be used to set up a job interview — but at its core, all of these interactions are about human communication. And Tinder’s founding team first built a customer loyalty app before pivoting into the matchmaking space, so there is already a history there of them playing a bit more in the business space. It will be interesting to see exactly what shape Tinder takes on next.
Watch the video embedded above to hear Rad, Mateen and Badeen talk about Tinder’s growth so far and plans for the future.