In September 2012, six developers pursued an idea for a location-based iOS dating application centered around college students. Not one year later, and Tinder has won TechCrunch’s Crunchie Award for “Best New Startup,” as it soon became a worldwide phenomenon. Even by Silicon Valley standards, such an ascension is seemingly rare. Thus the popularity of Tinder begs the question, "how did this simple app grow so quickly?"
It's no secret that tinder isn't actually a dating app. In fact, it's well known that Tinder is a platform that facilitates random "hook-ups." By marketing the application to hormone-driven college students, Tinder automatically captures a user base filled with horny, tech-savvy Millennials. Or, in other words, enough of an audience to get the ball rolling.
The next factor that helped Tinder's ascension concerns its marketing efforts; since the application relies on users constantly interacting with one another, Tinder’s main objective has been to increase its membership. By advertising to the college demographic – a simple, "you need to check out this app” – word-of-mouth marketing increased the hype surrounding Tinder; the app's swagger spread like wildfire at college campuses. After Tinder became a hit at one school, it quickly spread to the next... this started a domino effect.
Lastly, Tinder's UI design, be it simple, is revolutionary. Its simplicity sets Tinder apart from other applications. The swipe design allows for minimal user interaction and immediate gratification. In fact, this design is similar to the “pick-up-and-play” interface used by Apple's most popular gaming apps. Applications like Angry Birds and Doodle Jump have simple, addictive designs. In developing an app, whose features imitate "pick-up-and-play” games, Tinder's engineers focused on characteristics of popular apps, which has allowed Tinder to thrive.
About two years after its release, Tinder is now the most successful "dating" application on the App Store, which has spawned a myriad of competition. Such imitations include Hinge, which focuses on connecting users who share mutual friends, to the more direct Mixxxer, which aims to immediately unite users for a night of fun; there is even a Tinder/LinkedIn hybrid for job seekers, and a Tinder/Pandora app for discovering new music.
Marketing services to the college demographic presents incredible upside for companies. Their target audience is trendy and tech savvy. By advertising its app at a single college, Tinder has been able to exponentially increase its reach. The company exemplifies an interesting business model, one in which Tinder manipulated the stereotypes of college students for its own gain.