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Launched With Lottery Winnings, This App Is a Friendly, Female Grindr


Her is satisfying a niche for queer women who feel ignored and disrespected in the digital dating space.

When Briton Robyn Exton won 3,500 pounds, or about $6,700, in the British lottery, she decided against an all-inclusive vacation or stuffing her savings account. Instead, she used the cash to launch a social networking app for women, Her. Five years later, the app is now valued at $3.2 million.

Exton, now the CEO of Her, saw an opening in the online love and sex world, one now dominated by male-focused companies like Grindr, Hornet, and Tinder. Noticing that "flipping a different gender switch inside of a mass product" wasn't cutting it for queer women, she set out to create a product that catered specifically to that community.

"The gay white man has had the greatest visibility of all the LGBTQ community for the history of [time]. It's not new news to any of us that queer women are not as visible in media," Exton says. "People weren't building products for women because no one thought about them and what they were looking for."

Gearing a product specifically toward women meant Exton had to shake things up a bit. The first order of business: getting ladies to make a move.

"There hasn't been the most inclusive and supportive environment for women to be proactive in dating; to be leading in sexual exploration and be confident, to approach and reach out to other people," Exton says. "With Her, a lot of people will match and then not send a message after getting that match."

So, if users don't send a message after the first 24 hours, Her starts the conversation for them by putting in a question for both people to answer.

"I've had some really good conversations because of it," says Monica Rodman, a 26-year-old single lesbian (and a video editor for The Advocate). Rodman connected with one woman over a shared love of pickle juice. There have been weightier conversations, but they're typically friendly, Rodman says.

On Her, "queer women are rarely just looking for a date or looking for a hookup. They're often looking to meet other people from the community that they can have a relationship with," Exton says. "That relationship might be a friendship. It might be meeting someone to understand what's happening in their community if there are any events they didn't know about."

Her hosts parties and mixers in over a dozen cities, allowing women to meet each other offline in a safe space. Users like Rodman say the events -- and the app -- attract women truly looking to meet other women, not those trying to spring a boyfriend's desired threesome on unsuspecting queer women.

But with 18 sexualities and 20 different gender identities on Her, any sort of relationship or encounter is possible. The app is open to just about anyone in the LGBTQ community -- not just women, but those who identify as womxn, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming.

"Our policy is if people request for us to add a sexuality or a gender identity and we don't already have it, 99.9 percent of the time we are going to add it because to us you should be able to express who you are to the world," Exton says.

The next frontier? Crossing borders, even those hostile to LGBTQ people.

"There are very powerful LGBT communities in countries where it is still illegal to be gay or LGBTQ. Often they'll just say it's illegal to be a gay man and don't even talk about being a gay woman. But there are such strong communities there, they just operate very differently because of constrictions within the law and visibility," Exton says. "Next year, we'll start moving into those countries."

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