When entrepreneurs Sean Rad and Justin Mateen found themselves single and fed up with online dating about six months ago, they created an application for smartphones that they believed would help them find better matches.

The app, called Tinder, sorts potential love interests by proximity, shared interests and common friends.

“We started trying different dating apps just out of curiosity and we realized that the experience really sucked,” said Rad, chief executive of the West Hollywood company. “We set out to build a dating app that mimicked the way you interact in the real world.”

One of Rad’s complaints with other online dating apps was that people lied about who they were or posted fake photos as their profile pictures. Another problem with online dating, Rad said, is the imbalance for men and women. Men have to send dozens of messages before they get a response, while women receive hundreds of messages from people they aren’t interested in.

When a person signs up for Tinder, the app syncs to Facebook and uses the same profile picture, which provides some measure of authenticity. The app then shows pictures of potential matches who are in the same city, organizing them based on mutual friends and common interests. Two people can only send messages to each other after they’ve both indicated that they “like” each other.

Tinder is one of dozens of applications that are looking for a piece of the online dating market, which is dominated by websites such as eHarmony in Santa Monica and Match.com in Dallas. Other dating apps based in Los Angeles include Grindr, focused on gay men, and Blendr.

Even online dating giants such as Beverly Hills’ Spark Networks and eHarmony have entered the mobile dating scene. EHarmony’s mobile products generate about 40 percent of new signups for the company, said Arvind Mishra, the company’s vice president of product. Meanwhile, Spark Networks has made a mobile version of its flagship Jewish dating service, JDate.

But even as dating apps crowd the market, the giants are staying away from the casual dating scene where Tinder is focused, as opposed to matchmaking sites.

Last fall, eHarmony shut down its casual dating website and app, Jazzed. Mishra said Jazzed was created under different leadership – founder Neil Clark Warren came out of retirement in July to become chief executive at eHarmony – and it did not represent eHarmony’s brand.

“Jazzed was created as a more casual experience and it was kind of off brand,” he said. “We’re all about compatibility. It very quickly became apparent that this type of casual product is not in our DNA.”


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