In 2019, Josh Haber set out to redefine online dating for college students, working on an app that would merge content creation platforms like Instagram with popular dating apps like Tinder.
In October 2021, Haber and his team finally released “Tangle” on both the Apple Store and Google Play.
Haber said the target audience of the app is people in their 20s — including undergraduate to graduate students — who are looking to meet people in the city of Boston.
“[Tangle] takes a user pattern that young folks are used to on Instagram and Tiktok where they’re posting content, except it’s filtering that content creation into an area where you know people are actually potentially interested in dating,” Haber said.
Alexandria Eisenhardt, head of growth for Tangle, said the founders wanted an app that was more “community-based” rather than a “swiping” one.
In most mainstream dating apps, users are required to create a biography in which they include images of themselves as well as a personal statement. Tangle aims to get rid of the biography-based platform altogether.
“There are other things that you can use to indicate your personality in a way that isn’t something that can give you anxiety,” Eisenhardt said. “So, making sure that that interface is representative of all kinds of personality types and still comes across as you.”
As a self-funded app catering exclusively to the Boston area, Tangle would derive its revenue from partnerships with local businesses.
“Dating is usually a local thing,” Haber said. “So really using that aspect of it to help promote local businesses and offer a place to help them acquire users without traditional ads.”
The app’s co-founder noted that dating apps that currently dominate the market are “financially motivated to keep users on subscriptions,” instead of connections. However, Tangle wants to “marr[y] the motivation of the business and the user” with an app that “will always be 100% free.”
However, the trajectory of the app is still uncertain, with Eisenhardt noting that the available app is not the “final version.”
“We want people to get on the app now and give us feedback,” Eisenhardt said. “And I think we’re really open to that feedback.”
Eisenhardt explained that the team at Tangle wants to bring back a sense of community they feel was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this app may be able to do that by allowing college-aged users to form friendships and mentorship-based relationships.
Miles Forrest, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, commented on the importance of the users in defining the role of dating apps in college. According to Forrest, Tinder is “a hookup app” and Hinge is for people who “really want to get married.”
“I think each app sort of defines what it’s gonna be,” Forrest said. “But I don’t think the app itself gets to pick. I think the user base picks and the app kind of has to either roll with it or become obsolete.”
A recent survey notes that a majority of college students use Tinder “for online entertainment” and for “boosting self-esteem.” Haber said Tangle will not be used in the same manner as Tinder, as its goal is to create “a successful dating outcome” for its users.
“Right now we’re using our personal experiences to drive what we think would be a great user experience,” Eisenhardt said. “And our personal experiences aren’t rooted in a current college experience. So I think [feedback] could be really helpful for us in our development.”