Gen Z wants to change how we date, and they're getting the funding to do it
- Gen Z is over Tinder-style dating apps.
- A number of Gen Z founders have secured seed funding for new dating apps, sometimes from Gen Z VCs.
- From TikTok-inspired feeds to group dates, these apps reimagine how we find love and friendship.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Gen Z is sick of Tinder, and they’re doing something about it. In the last year, Gen Z founders have set out to revolutionize how we date, creating their own apps that place less onus on appearance and more on personality and community.
“The left/right swipe paradigm has not changed since 2012,” Lolly cofounder Marc Baghadjian said.
Some Gen Z dating apps are addressing this by adding creative ways to communicate in their apps, while others focus on the in-person experience. Either way, investors are eager to help these young founders reinvent the dating scene.
Here are the top Gen Z dating apps with venture-backed funding to look out for:
In a viral TikTok, a girl says she’s fine with TikTok having her data because the app is so astoundingly good at finding content that she loves and people to follow.
“At this point I’d give them my SSN and like can they make a dating app??” she wrote.
Thankfully, Lolly does not require your Social Security Number, but it’s almost exactly what she’s asking for — a TikTok for dating.
The app, founded by Baghadjian and Sacha Schermerhorn in 2020, features a central feed similar to TikTok’s “For You” page, where you scroll through short-form videos made by users. Instead of swiping “yes” or “no,” you hit “clap” on a user’s video, and the algorithm adapts to show you more of that person.
“We believe that Gen Z is more than three pictures,” Baghadjian said. “Video will make dating so much more equitable because people can finally win by being themselves — they no longer have to fit in figurative ‘tinder-esk’ boxes.”
It’s an ambitious project — other apps have tried and failed to capture TikTok’s magic — but it could pay off big time.
They have backers that believe them, having recently raised a $1.1 million seed round with investment from SV Angel, So-Fi cofounder Daniel Macklin, and Wired Ventures cofounder Jane Metcalfe, according to Forbes. Baghadjian says they’re hard at work raising a seed extension round of $1 million and that they’ve already secured several commitments.
Lolly is currently available in the app store.
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Monet may not be TikTok for dating, but it did go viral on that app. In a video with over half a million views, cofounder Joanna Shan describes her mission to end “really boring conversations on dating apps.”
Instead of an inbox filled with generic greetings, Monet allows users to send and receive drawings.
“There wasn’t a platform where you had freedom to be creative and expressive,” Shan said. “We just wanted to build something fun that we’d enjoy using.”
After her post went viral, Shan and her cofounder Jonathan Xue, took a semester off from the University of Pennsylvania to work on the app. Their gamble is paying off — since the app launched for iOS on Dec. 16, it’s been downloaded around 25,000 times and raised around $500,000 in a seed round.
They were also the first investment by Gen Z Ventures, a syndicate composed entirely of Gen Z-ers. Erik de Stefanis, who runs the syndicate, first saw Monet getting attention online and realized that, unlike Tinder, it was considered cool to be on Monet.
“It adds a layer of creativity, playfulness, and authenticity to a context otherwise dominated by endless swiping,” he said.
Looking ahead, Monet plans to add location and university-based matching. It’s currently available in the app store with worldwide matching.
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There was a brief, perhaps magical, moment in 2017 when Tinder Social existed. It was a feature on Tinder that allowed users to organize group dates, making the prospect of meeting up with a stranger significantly less terrifying.
Unfortunately, the feature was discontinued and users were once again forced to date solo — at least until this year. Lee’s group social app, Flox, which she cofounded with Daniel Huang and Marc Liu, allows users to create a group profile with their friends to connect with other groups.
“I’ve always had the most fun and felt the most comfortable around my friends, so I wanted to create a platform where this was possible,” Lee said.
Although Flox is not currently available to the general public, Lee says she’ll be launching a beta product in New York soon. It’s safe to say there are people waiting to use the platform — Lee made a TikTok about the app that got over a million views.
She’s also getting the attention of investors. Although Flox hasn’t officially announced anything yet, Lee said that she received “a lot of fund and angel demand,” and decided to pursue funding. She lists Nils Bunger, a partner at Pear VC, and Turner Novak, a general partner at Gelt VC, as among her investors.
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