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The problem with Tinder is women don’t trust strangers, so matches don’t turn into meet-ups. Hinge uses the same hot-or-not style but only shows you trustable friends of friends based on its “romance graph”. That’s led to insane retention in D.C., upcoming funding, and now an expansion to New York City with plans for Boston and Philadelphia. Hinge want to be a younger Match.com for the mobile era.

Founder Justin McLeod got the idea while finishing up at Harvard Business School. There was a “Last Chance Dance” and the organizers thought it would be cute to let students submit names of their crushes and match up people who liked each other. It was too much work and fell through, but McLeod thought “I could build that”, and over the summer he did. Hinge launched in February, and was incubated in D.C. by The Fort with $625,00 from investors including 500 Startups and Piedmont Capital.

Just how popular are Hinge’s free iOS and Android apps in D.C.? McLeod tells me there are 110,000 single college grads in the city, and over 20,000 are active on Hinge. The app is focused on the dense network of young professionals and grad students that are starting to think about settling down. It’s got 30,000 total users with an average age of 27, and has made 200,000 matches. 85% of those who download it are still active a week later, and 75% are still active a month later. How? Because it’s not a hook-up app.

THE AFFECTION CONNECTION

Hinge might not get you laid right away like Tinder, Grindr/Blendr, and many other “dating” apps say they will. It’s not designed to match you with just anyone that’s super close by and also using the app at the same time.

Hinge looks deeper. Not quite into your soul, but at least into your Facebook profile. And the result is a ton of transparency and tailored matches that give people the confidence to progress online flirting to an in-person encounter.

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