A friendship has been swiped right: Tinder invests in Vina
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Photo credit: Vina / Instagram

Photo credit: Vina / Instagram

Vina is a friend-finding app for women

Tinder announced on Thursday that it participated in a $1.4 million seed funding round from July for Vina, the social networking venture for women led by Olivia June Poole and Jen Aprahamian. They invested alongside Greylock, NEA, and Wildcat Venture Partners.

Vina’s properties include LadyBrag.com and HEY! Vina, an app for women to network with peers and find friends (it is not advertised as a dating app). HEY! Vina was launched in San Francisco and New York City in January 2016, after Poole became dissatisfied with using dating apps to try and meet friends.

HEY! Vina connects to users’ Facebook accounts – profile picture, location, education, and employment – and then has women take a quiz to provide data on their interests to find other “vinas” who share these preferences (the app is expanding the size of the quiz to offer more suggestions for users). As the Guardian review of the app noted, it complements how people use, “libraries, local shops, playgroups and cafes” to seek out friends, especially for women for whom, “proper jobs, babies, deposits, older parents, relationships, actual hobbies and hour-long commutes” limit their free time outside of the Internet. Ideally, Poole and Aprahamian have told reporters, the app will lead to real life meet-ups at those libraries, local shops, playgroups, and cafes – or wine bars, as Poole’s first entry to the friend finder scene was “Ladies Who Vino,” a “monthly social meeting of lady minds and wines” she set up for San Franciscans in 2012. The app is for adult women of all ages, but the average user is in her 20s or 30s.

Social pollination

Although it is specifically tailored for women (so too is “Monarq”), other friend finder apps exist for both men and women, such as Squad and Bumble, or Bro for men. There is also Skout, which like Tinder has branched away from dating per se, and Patook’s “platonic dating” app. Activity-centric socialization apps also exist, like the broad brush Meetup and Excuses to Meet or Lunch Kaki, which in Singapore connects people together to meet up at restaurants – for many, dining alone is more awkward than eating with near-strangers. Bumble, set up as a dating app similar to Tinder, moved into the friend-finding arena by creating a BumbleBFF option, which was released in March 2016 – the reviewer for the Washington Post noted that while it was not specifically catering to women, a lot of the initial users were women taking advantage of the site’s large user base.

Tinder’s investment in Vina, then, will help it reach more people through its established market presence of 9.6 million daily users. Its own friend-finder app, Tinder Social, operates more broadly with an event planning focus.

The exact amount Tinder contributed to the round has not been publicly disclosed.

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