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Can accom?

THE BUSINESS OF GAY DATING AND HOOKUP APPS IS CHANGING — AND THIS IS AS MUCH DRIVEN BY INVESTOR INTERESTS AS IT IS BY SOCIO-CULTURAL FACTORS. BUT CAN THE BIG PLAYERS ADAPT TO ACCOM THIS SHIFT, OR WILL THE FRESHER FACES TRAVEL AND TAKE THE INITIATIVE?

“It’s ten-thirty in the morning and we’re quite literally looking over the Hollywood sign.”

It’s all right for some. I’m on the phone with Ollie Locke, former doyen of Made in Chelsea, and Jack Rogers, two of the three co-founders of gay dating app Chappy.

“So we’re doing OK,” Jack interjects, as I stare around the windowless confines of the west London office where I’m sitting.

Chappy, their brainchild, is certainly doing OK. Having started operations in November 2016, it launched properly in March this year, to immediate success. Only a matter of months later, it’s just celebrated its millionth match; the monopoly that Grindr has held over the gay sector of the app market is certainly being challenged.

In December, Chappy landed seed-round investment from the team behind Bumble — the straight app where women have to message matches first — who are the sole investors and, as such, have an equity stake. Though the financial sum of this investment isn’t public knowledge, the benefit to Chappy is as much about the manpower and business support it’s received, with access to Bumble’s large and established structure of marketing experts, developers, and moderators.

To get such a vote of confidence from an industry leader so soon is extraordinary, but Jack and Ollie aren’t surprised. “The idea itself was so strong, and the market was so ripe for some sort of disruption,” Jack says. “I was shocked at how there isn’t an app like this. How has it gone on so long and there’s not been anyone that’s thought, ‘Do you know what, we could do something a little bit different here’?”

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