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Tingle (2010)

Tingle was the first mobile-only dating app, a pioneer in mobile dating, and the first app to include novel features like Swipe to Like, Location-Based Discovery, and realtime voice and video chat.  First launched as a BETA in Vancouver only in November 2010, Tingle went on to global availability in 2012.

From my experience with EQO I understood the power of Push Messaging in social network applications.  Also, the limitation of not having access to the means to send Push Notifications to mobile devices.  While I wanted to develop Tingle as early as 2006, I knew that until Push was made available it would not be possible until Apple rolled out 3rd-party Push to the iPhone in June 2009 (a year late, as it turned out).  Unleashed, we began developing prototypes of Tingle in July 2009.

After consulting to MySpace to build a mobile dating prototype called “Flirtacious” in 2010, we successfully closed a modest seed stage financing in November 2010.

This led to the second BETA of Tingle in November 2011.  As you can see from the gallery, this got as many things right as it did wrong:

Building a mobile social app in the 2010-2012 period was very costly.  Little facility to support the functionality required was native to iOS’ SDK, and SWIFT had not yet been created.  Web- and Mobile-RTC protocols/stacks had not yet been advanced and so the realtime requirements of the Tingle app drove a lot of groundbreaking development.  Our team even contributed optimizations to MongoDB in an effort to deliver a low-latency, near-local experience to mobile users.

The 2012 release version of the app included many improvements over the early UI, specifically doing away with Activity Streams and focusing the user on browsing and swiping profiles (which will be familiar to Tinder users, most assuredly — Tinder launched later).

Some of the marketing was pretty fun:

In limited release, Tingle did garner limited favourable media coverage.

While we had raised approximately $500,000 it would clearly require an additional $500K to $1M to get this application to a point where it was marketable.  I vastly overestimated, however, the appetite of larger angels and institutional investors to invest in the online dating category.  Historically, very few such investors have taken a leap in this category.

Ultimately, Tingle was unable to secure the financing necessary to continue on and AppSocial, the company that we formed to create it, was formally shut down in 2014 after failing to secure an exit or additional financing.  Across the online dating category, only one major player successfully raised venture capital to pursue online dating post 2010:  Zoosk.  All others, including Tinder, were bootstrapped within existing online or telephone dating services.





Posted on

November 17, 2010