Online dating is a phenomenon that goes back to the early stages of the internet with websites like Match.com that were started 27 years ago in 1995. Now fast-forward to 2012 when Tinder first appeared on the scene and took the dating world by storm.
As of today, Tinder has captured 51% of the whole online dating world, more than any other company in history, and now has a valuation of $3 billion.
But just as Tinder took over the online dating market, building an app similar to Tinder but with a different twist could easily knock them off of their throne. Take a look at other apps out there like Bumble and Hinge that are catching up quickly.
Let’s dive into everything Tinder and see what is under the hood.
1. The History of Tinder
Back in 2012, there were two friends Justin Mateen and Sean Rad that won a hackathon in Los Angeles with an app idea that would change the dating world as we know it. Their mobile app allowed people to match based on your current location, mutual interests, and made the experience fun by gamifying it using the swiping gesture to indicate whether you liked someone or not.
Fast-forward to today, it is one of the highest-grossing non-gaming mobile apps on the app store, with more than 430 million downloads. It is available in 190 countries, has 75 million monthly active users, and has registered over 60 billion matches.
Having such a massive impact in the online dating world and a potential threat to Match.com, Match Group took notice and ended up merging with Tinder at a valuation of $3 billion in 2017.
2. How does Tinder work?
To use Tinder the process is simple, you must first create a free profile, add your current location, gender, age, distance and gender preferences. Then you are shown profiles of people that include their photos along with a small biography. You swipe left or right across multiple profiles in order to find a possible match that is in your neighborhood or city.
If you swipe left, it means you are not interested, if you swipe right, then it means that you are interested. Only when both parties swipe right on each other and match, are you able to chat and start your dating journey.
3. Features of Tinder
So what are the main features of Tinder? Here are the most important ones, as well as the ones that you should include in your dating app:
- Login via Facebook/Instagram – Connect with Facebook authorization SDK to sign up and login instantly without needing a username or password. It saves users time and also builds trust.
- User Profile – Users can set and edit their gender, age, photos, location, hobbies, and short bios about themselves. Also allowing more fields for them to fill out will give you a fuller user profile and capture more data.
- Swiping – This feature will allow users to browse through potential matches by swiping left if they are not interested or swiping right if they are interested. It also gamifies the experience and makes it more fun.
- Matching Algorithm – The algorithm will compare the new user profile with other profiles that are already in the database and suggest relevant matches according to the user’s preferences. A user has a higher chance of returning to the app if they are shown what they are looking for. You can also have a score to rank people based on attractiveness to increase engagement on the app.
- Search Filters – A user can specify exactly what they are looking for so that they can get a close match of a potential partner. Nowadays, people have a specific persona in mind of the person they want to meet.
- Swipe Surge – As an added bonus, you can send out notifications to your users when there is a lot of activity on the app, so that they have higher chances of matching. According to Tinder, this increased match-making by 250%.
- Geolocation – Having the user’s location is the most important feature of the app. Without this integration, users will have no idea if the person they are matching with is actually near them or not. Most dating apps allow the user to precisely choose how close or far they want to receive matches for, either 1 mile or up to 50 miles away.
- Messaging – Once two users have matched then they will be able to chat with each other using a private built-in unscripted messenger. You can also add in-app voice or video calling to make it more engaging, and it also helps users verify if profiles are real or fake.
- Security – When it comes to online dating, people need to be aware that real and fake profiles exist. Having features like photo verification, background checks, and profile reporting help the community become stronger and more legitimate by only allowing real verified people on the app.
- In-app Purchases – Besides relying on third-party ads to generate revenue, you can introduce monthly subscriptions that allow more features than the basic version. Such bonuses could be the ability to change your location, go back to the last swipe, turn off ads, higher limits on swiping, and have your profile show up more frequently.
- Push Notifications – This alert feature is crucial to keeps users engaged and also to let them know whenever they got a match, if someone sent them a message, when there are swipe surges, or any new app updates.
- Settings – Here users are able to see general information about app terms and conditions, contact support, set up push notifications and filters, profile linking, and account deletion.
4. Tinder Tech Stack
- Framework: React Native
- Framework: React Native
- Frameworks: Laravel for Web
- Frameworks: NodeJS, Express 5.0
- Database: MySQL, MongoDB
- Server: Amazon Web Services EC2 (AWS)
- Login: Facebook SDK
- Storage: Amazon S3
- Location: Google Maps API
- Payment: Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Pay
- Notifications: Google Cloud Messaging for Android and Apple Push Notification Service for iOS
- Real-Time Analytics: Google Analytics
5. The process of building an App
Discover your niche
If you want to build an app like Tinder, it is important that you first find your niche. Yes, you read that correctly. When you discover the niche for the app, it will help you define the target audience for whom you are making the app for. Having a target audience is another factor that you need to take into account when building a dating app, after all, you cannot just build an app for everyone and anyone, that has been done already.
A defined target audience will enable you to build an app that caters to a specific set of people and their needs. It will be more user-friendly this way since you would know your audience and what they are looking for once they sign up. It is an important factor because it also helps you stay in the market despite the growing competition in this business.
The truth is that no matter how hard you try, you cannot make something that will make everyone happy. So, the better approach is to target a specific audience and have your niche in the market to help you stand out.
Know the algorithm
According to a recent survey done on the growing dating trends, it was found that a large number of people believe that algorithms play an important role in bringing two people together. As much as algorithms have a role to play in this case, the truth is that it only works in some cases and is not true for all. To be able to build an app like Tinder you must give your users the freedom to explore and look for like-minded individuals who share the same interests, values, likes, etc. Around 65% of the users using dating apps say that they are looking for someone similar to judge compatibility. Only about 49% of the people on these apps say that looks are a key factor for them when they are looking for a partner.
So, suppose you are looking to build an app like Tinder in that case, you must look for a developer who understands how different people look for a partner on such apps, considering their personal preferences and showing results based on a compatibility score. The compatibility score could be a result of a test the users are asked to take before signing up for the app or after they have signed up for the app and are looking to take things forward.
Have a defined business model
Another important factor that you need to take into consideration is a business model that matches your niche and vision for the app. To be able to select a business model that pertains to your needs as a developer of the app, you need to first do your thorough research on what apps like Tinder are already doing.
Here is how the premium business model helps users on Tinder:
- Profile gets an instant boost – With the help of Tinder Plus and following the same business model, the profiles of your users will get an instant boost and will be more visible to other people on the app.
- Unlimited swipes – With this upgrade, your users will get the option of unlimited swipes without having to worry about them running out. It happens with the help of a learning algorithm feature on the premium version of the app.
- Unlimited likes – With the basic free version, users get a limited number of likes and after reaching the limit, they cannot swipe right on a potential match. This feature instantly gives you an upgrade once the users switch to the premium version of the app. It is exactly how apps like Tinder earn money by selling premium features to long-term users.
- Choose the best technology – When building a dating app, you need to make sure that you only choose the best of everything. It means that while there might be cheaper options available in the market, you should only choose the right tech stack that will cater to the needs of your users as well as your business.
- Choose your team – Talking about choosing the right tech stack for the app, you would be first required to build a team that will help you in all steps of the process. Tinder was not built overnight and is not the effort of one man. It is something that you need to realize after you have decided that you are going to build something comparable to Tinder.
Here is a list of things that you need to consider to be able to build a functional team:
- Rating of developers – Depending on the market you are looking to launch an app, the hourly rate of developers could vary. The one thing that you need to focus on is the skill set and years of experience spent working in the field you are considering to hire for the job.
- Portfolio – No matter how many years someone says they have worked in the same field, you can never fully assess if they are the right person for a job unless you take a look at their previous work. Ask potential teammates to share links of work to analyze if they are the right person to help you build the app.
6. How will you Monetize?
Besides building an app that is functional and gains popularity, the second piece of the puzzle is how you will make money. You can choose from multiple monetization models below to see which will best suit your app.
- Ads – Showing ads is the easiest way to start generating revenue and is what most free apps do.
- Subscription – Offer monthly subscription plans that will remove ads and give other perks like the ability to rewind the last swipe.
- Unlimited swipes – In the basic version you can limit the amount of swipes a free user can have, but if they have a paid account they can send unlimited swipes.
- Boosting profile – Charge a fixed fee to show the user’s profile as the first result. The algorithm will see which of the user’s photos gets the most swipes and show it more often, so more matches are made.
- In-App purchases – You can sell users digital flowers, emojis, gift cards, or reward points that they can use and send to others.
- Referrals – Give rewards to users that invite their friends to join.
7. How much does it cost to build an app like Tinder?
Do you want to build a real competitor to Tinder? We want you to remember that this is a life commitment, and you need to give up all of your time if you want to stand a chance, or it will not succeed. Besides giving up your life, you need to have the capital to back it up, this is a very expensive journey, and we would suggest that you start looking for venture capitalists with deep pockets to help you fund it.
If you want to build a real competitor to Tinder, with all of its current features, it will easily cost you in the tens of millions of dollars, and most likely more than that. If you want to stick to something small to test the waters like an MVP, with a couple of features, the cost will be between $100,000 to $1,000,000 depending on the amount of features you want to include in the beta version.
8. Final Thoughts
To build a Tinder competitor needs a lot of conscious effort and hard work. It is not a one-man mission to perform, you need to have a whole team with you along this journey so that you can operate effectively. You need managers, designers, app developers, content creators, advertisers, etc. Each person is important, that will make sure you execute your goals and vision successfully.
We hope this article gave you a clearer picture of what is it like to build an app like Tinder. We recommend that you do a lot of research, create an in-depth business plan, and seek out venture capitalists before starting app development.
If you are ready and interested in developing an app like Tinder, you can always contact us to help you build it.