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Looking For Love? Three New Apps Help You Do It, Denver Style








Colorado dating apps focus on the specific things active people fancy here, from mountain sports to yoga, putting singles together based on mutal interests. They're smarter then all those friends who are trying to hook you up.
There are as many approaches to finding love — or at least something that will do for the moment — as one can creatively imagine, but today’s easiest and quickest way to connect is via smartphone apps. While the mega, national apps, like Tinder, OkCupid, Match and Grindr, all have a strong presence in Colorado, three local companies—LuvByrd, MeetMindful, and Say Allo—have launched in the last three years with alternatives that are quickly gaining nation attraction.

Each has a distinct approach, but all three reflect the interests of the region’s diverse population, from outdoorsy adventurers to yoga-clad warriors, that are part of its quickly growing young, professional class. While there’s crossover between the ventures, there’s space for each to grow, company founders say.

MeetMindful connects singles who are into yoga, meditation and more.

The biggest of the three, MeetMindful, focuses on mindful living—think yoga, meditation, volunteering and more — and arose out Amy Baglan’s previous venture,YogaDates, which helped people connect at social gatherings.

“The whole idea was to bring like-minded people together through their shared value and interest in yoga,” Baglan says. “It was a fun business, but it wasn’t a great business model in terms of profitability and the ability to scale out operations and revenue.

But she knew she was onto something. “What I did see was that people were coming to events left and right.…It became very clear to me there was a huge opportunity to serve this market of people and in a way that was much more scalable, i.e., taking it online.”

So, she built it into MeetMindful. Since launching the prototype in 2014, the company has attracted some 300,000 users. It’s also made a number of capital raises to continue its growth. Most recently it raised $1.8 million in a seed round. “We’ve raised 2.7 million total,” Baglan says.

LuvByrd is looking to build on its popular ski lift dating events.

LuvByrd launched its beta around the same time as MeetMindful. However, its focus is different. “We see ourselves as an app for outdoor enthusiasts looking to find other outdoor enthusiasts,” says Founder Mike Keshian. The company has both an app and a website. Like MeetMindful, it allows users to find each other based on the specific activities they enjoy. Users can get very specific about their tastes.

“You can search for someone in the app who is an expert skier and enjoys A-Basin and Breckenridge and also likes to go horseback riding and rock climbing,” Keshian explains. “If someone has one of those in their profile it will show as them or it will show if they have all those similar interests.”

Keshian says he saw a need for a more active dating app with singles across the state’s varied terrain. “Living in Crested Butte, people were always looking for someone they could hike or ski with,” he said. I noticed in Denver that people were having the same issue and I kept seeing these Farmersonly.com commercials and though ‘oh man we could kill two birds with one stone, create an app for people who love skiing and outdoor enthusiasts. That kind of thing.” It added up to taking a chance on LuvByrd.
LuvByrd has sponsored chairlift speed dating events at a Colorado ski resort. “We get so much media coverage for that in the winter,” he says.

Say Allo launched just this year, but it's quickly growing.

The youngest of the three is Say Allo, which Zackary Lewis launched out of beta earlier in 2017. “Say Allo is the first intelligent dating discovery app…imagine Tinder and eHarmony with brains of Amazon, it actually learns with every swipe,” he says. It learns who you’re interested in and why, and then it guides users to more compatible matches. “But doing so with the speed and efficiency what people have grown accustomed to with other dating apps as opposed to online dating websites.”
“People log on through Facebook or Google onto the application. It asks their permission and we use it as a learning tool to help guide people to compatibility,” Lewis says. “Once on the app, it asks people 10 questions about themselves.” Those questions are based on theories of cognitive behavior developed by Bernard Shaw.

“We use those questions to getting people to the right matches quicker. “



Though it launched in March, the app already has about 5,000 users, Lewis says. “People have used the app over 200,000 times. In Denver alone we’ve made over 1,000 connections,” he says. “Our target is people in their 30s to their 50s. We have a good number of users in their 20s as well. “

Experiences differ by age. “I think that studies, research and life experience may show that the 20s are for discovery and in your 30s and up you’re looking for something more meaningful and compatible and that’s where we come into play.” Say Allo, by the way, is Lewis’ fifth startup. He most recently sold Liquid Compass, a global streaming radio provider.

All three founders said Denver is at the heart of their apps for a number of reasons. “It’s where I live,” Baglan says. But moreover, “Denver has an incredibly active tech and startup team. It’s a great place to start a company because there’s great talent here and an amazing impact investment community, which is where a large part of our investor startup capital comes from. And in terms of the market we’re targeting—healthy, mindful people — that is absolutely epitomized by the Colorado lifestyle.” Still, since Meetmindful has started marketing outside of Colorado, its second-largest market, Los Angeles, has become its location with the most active users, she adds.

“Colorado is rated as one of the top singles market in the nation,” Say Allo’s Lewis says. “People are moving here, the job growth in Denver is tremendous. There are a lot of young professionals here.” He also notes there a lot of app developers locally.
While MeetMindful already is nationwide, indeed international, and LuvByrd has entered multiple markets, Say Allo is still currently limited to daters in Colorado. “We have an interesting problem at the moment. We have thousands of requests each day of people trying to download the app outside of Colorado,” Lewis says. He says the company wants to gain more user feedback on its services and what users do and do not like in the freemium app.

Say Allo is a smart app. The more you engage with it, the more it can help you connect with people who share specific interests.

People can search and use it for free, Lewis says, “but we have tools in the app like a video meet up to schedule a video date and see the other person before they take a leap of faith.” He says the video date tool makes it impossible to “catfish” on the site—use old pictures or pictures that aren’t of the user to fool someone into a date. “Right now over 20 percent or our users are buying the premium features, which tops some of our competitors by far.”

LuvByrd also is focussed on growing into more markets. Keshian says the company recently purchased Yonder. “The two cross-pollinate pretty well,” he says. “We can advertise LuvByrd in Yonder and vice versa.”

While the two will remain separate apps and sites with separate missions, Keshian says Yonder adds to LuvByrd’s portfolio. “We started out as dating app. now I’m positioning us as an outdoor tech company,” he says. “LuvByrd will stay LuvByrd, it’s my baby.”

Keshian also wants to build on the success of the chair lift speed dating in and outside Colorado. The dating platform has gained traction in New York, California and the Pacific Northwest. He’s considering other things, like a paddle-boarding speed dating event.

“Since the chairlift speed dating has done so well for us, we’d like to do a fun summer event. Then build out the chairlift speed dating to other resorts in Colorado and then other resorts across the country where we have a nice market, like Mt. Hood or one of the Tahoe resorts.”

But the real question is: Can these dating platforms help people find love? Apparently so.

“I’m a success story,” Keshian. “I met my girlfriend during the beta process and we’re still together.”

Read more articles by Chris Meehan.

Chris is a Denver-based freelance writer, editor and communications specialist. He covers sustainability, social issues and other topics.
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