When The League, an invite-only dating app with a college admissions-like application process, launched in Charlotte, there was a waiting list of over 2,500 people.
Today it’s over 5,000. Just over two months into its expansion in Charlotte, the company says it’s seeing a massive amount of success with its community of daters, but early users are saying otherwise — and becoming frustrated with the lack of quality matches.
This is the app that aims to connect busy, high-powered individuals to create power couples, but has been called “bougie” and “elitist” for its high standards and exclusivity. It carries with it an optional $200 membership fee.
In the 512-user strong founding class alone, Meredith Davis, the app’s head of communications, told the Agenda that they saw 75% receive a match and a phone number in the first 2 weeks. There’s now an average wait time of 2 to 3 weeks for an invitation.
According to users in Charlotte, though, it’s not living up to its promises.
“I found out about The League from an Agenda article a few days before it went live,” said one user in her early 40s, who isn’t a paying member, but considered it until she used the app. After making her way off the waitlist (which she says is an interesting process, as there’s not much to each profile), she got her first round of matches.
And they were a disaster – enough to make her wonder what the team’s vetting process, if there is one at all, looked like.
“You can see where people work, you can see their picture and you have their first name, so it’s not hard to get on LinkedIn and figure out who these people are and make sure they’re legitimate,” she continued. “After just the smallest bit of due diligence on my part, I found out the first match is married.”
The other two matches? One listed as 46 years old was actually just 23. The other, she never heard from.
Now, her matches are coming from not only hours away, but different states completely. Think places like Georgia and Virginia.
“I reached out to the concierge about that, and it was this 4-paragraph, canned response that was, ‘Oh, you should open up your preferences so you’re not so selective,'” she said. “But it’s kind of the point to be selective. I’m to the point where I’m about to delete it. Am I showing up in peoples’ matches, and are there even people in my age range using it in Charlotte?”
“It’s not a perfect science by any means,” Davis said about the problems, going on to say that while some people look great on paper, they can turn out to be the wrong fit for the app’s community. The League is looking to fix this problem by pulling more data from Facebook that will allow them to de-prioritize questionable users while they vet more carefully.
Still, she defended the team’s vetting and application processes. “It’s the best way we can think of to curate a community, and it’s the most curated community of all dating apps out there. These experiences aren’t something that is the norm, but can potentially happen.”
Though she was surprised by the presence of a married man on the app, Davis was more surprised by the fact that this user, in her early 40s, made the cut.
“Right now, with Charlotte, she’s probably not going to have the best experience,” she explained.
The target demographic is 28-35, and though there are plans to expand more as the community grows – this has been effective in larger cities like New York and San Francisco – she says that right now, it won’t be a “great experience” for older users.
But it’s not just older users. Another user, who falls directly in the middle of the target demographic, isn’t having luck, either.
“I’m not paying, but I’m almost wondering if I’m being secretly penalized for it,” she said.
She credits this train of thought to her experience with the in-app concierge that each user gets.
“What they keep saying is, like, ‘Be patient – you’re not going to get a lot of matches,'” she explained. “So I have low expectations because they keep telling me that very few people are going to like me, but the ones who will, it’ll be magical.”
Both women say that they’ve received messages from the in-app concierge urging them to be picky, and while one refused, the other did, only to continue receiving e-mails about why she still wasn’t receiving matches, with reasons like lack of men and still being viewed as too selective.
“I’m not taking it seriously,” she said. “I’ve had good luck on, like, Bumble, but this, it’s like, ‘Well s**t – I am not doing well!'”
Neither said they will pay for membership because, based on their experiences so far, they don’t believe that it’s worth it, though Davis stresses that, realistically, that’s what will get users matches.
“We feel that those who pay for in-app purchases like extra boosts and profile tips are actually smarter in their dating because you get an ROI,” she explained. “If you pay for certain features in the app, you’ll be seen more and see more people.”
Regardless, The League isn’t going anywhere.
“We’re, overall, thrilled with how things are going in Charlotte,” Davis said.
Feature photo via Facebook.