If you are someone who would prefer to mate only with people who went to your alma mater, and you went to Princeton University, congratulations. A software engineer at Google just made the perfect dating app for selective graduates like you. It's called HeyTiger.
HeyTiger is like Tinder, but with fewer photos and a membership that comprises mainly Princeton students and graduates.
Arjun Landes, a Princeton alumnus who works at Google, says he created the app to help people connect at the university’s annual Reunions celebration, which took place from Thursday, May 29, to Sunday, May 31. It is available for free from the Itunes store. He did not install a feature on the app that verified whether users went to Princeton before they joined, but he says he hasn't heard of anyone outside the Princeton community signing up.
"The truth is there are a lot of people who aren’t comfortable being on Tinder because there are a lot of randoms out there," says Landes. "It made [people] more comfortable using it, the novelty of it, and knowing that it was only Princeton people."
The app asks users to reveal their height, class year, major, and of course, the eating club they belonged to while on campus. It also asks members for their favorite Wawa snack. Users can filter the gender and age of people the app will show them, and after that, the app works as expected: Photos of Princeton men and women appear one at a time, and users can tap an orange heart to indicate they like what they see. If two people heart each other, they are invited to have a conversation.
Landes is not sure whether the app will stay operational long past Reunions, but he says the response has been effusive. HeyTiger has made more than 3,000 matches so far, he says.
Making a dating service specific to a niche category of people is not a new idea—there have long been online offerings for Christians, Jews, vegetarians, and Ayn Rand obsessives. The idea of siphoning off a segment of the population based on their pedigree, though, seems to be gaining ground. Last year, a Stanford MBA started a dating app called the League, which is invite-only, and promised to be accessible only by elite singles. “You'll never have to wonder if that Harvard hottie is too good to be true on The League,” boasts the app’s website.
Investors seem enthusiastic about the business possibilities of people-sorting. In January, the League raised $2.1 million in a seed round of funding.
Making a version of the League that is a touch more selective—only one Ivy League bastion, instead of the whole set—may seem excessive. Sure, there are data to back up economists’ sense that educated people marry other educated people. Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, found that among people who got married for the first time in 2011, 71 percent of those who were college graduates married other college grads.
But are people so parochial that they would prefer to limit their dating pool to humans who spent four years having almost the same experiences, in the same classrooms, and the same social setting as they did? In Princeton’s case, yep.
Despite the backlash against notorious “Princeton Mom” Susan Patton, who wrote a letter in 2013 suggesting women should make the best use of their time at Princeton by finding a husband, scores of Princeton grads have done just that. A 2002 Princetonian article said that 26 percent of women and 12 percent of men from the university married others who had gone to Princeton.
HeyTiger, for now, has a basic interface that does not always work very quickly. It’s still probably too early to count the app out, given Tigers’ voracity for people of the same stripe.