After being scrutinized for creating a by-application-only, selective dating app for successful women and men called “The League”, CEO Amanda Bradford is finally responding to her critics and haters who have labeled her as an “elitist”.
In her words she describes what had been happening since the product’s inception: “I told myself I was just obeying wise adages: ‘ignore the critics’, ‘focus on your users and your product’, and ‘no press is bad press’, but by refusing to respond, I essentially let the media go on to corrupt our concept into one so superficial and optimized for clickbait that it’s nearly unrecognizable to me now.”
But why DID she hold back? She answers… “Truthfully, I was worried that if I shared my real vision behind The League I would alienate some of our user base — particularly the men — which a dating app clearly needs to survive. This, in turn, could further segment our already-smaller-than-Tinder addressable market, and could hurt our chances at getting traction and raising funding. But ironically, by downplaying my mission, I was actually suffering from the very same type of complex I am determined to eradicate.”
Let’s back up and look at the criticism she encountered first. I find this fascinating that her concept even came across this type of scrutiny, because my God here we are in the age of Tinder, which is all about hooking up, hotness, and NOW. (Just swipe through pictures and pick your lay-o-the-day. It’s pretty scary how fast Tinder has become the app of choice for single young people.)
So why is THAT seemingly accepted across the board, but here is an accomplished woman saying she wants to help other successful women match with successful men, and take the surface-B.S. out of online dating, and her idea is being labeled as “elitist”?
Here’s why: Because deep down, women are still valued for youth and looks, and not as much for who they are or the accomplishments they have achieved. Not a new idea, but the brand of criticism she’s receiving is proving exactly the outdated paradigms that successful women run up against when it comes to finding a life partner who is OK with her ambition.
* On the problem: “In 2015, there are many men who will claim they want a ‘smart, ambitious woman’, but I’ve noticed it often doesn’t play out that way in reality, and there are plenty of studies to corroborate my anecdotal evidence.”
* On the purpose of The League: “I wanted to build a community where smart, outspoken, high-achieving women are celebrated and encouraged to progress in their career full-time. I wanted to never EVER hear a woman be worried that her educational achievements or career ambition would be a turn-off. “
* On why their new app IS selective: “If we open the gates too wide and too fast, we risk becoming like every other dating app out there where the men judge women on their looks and the women struggle to find men who value their intelligence and support their ambition.”
That last bullet is HUGE and you need to re-read that. Translation: It’s GOOD to be SELECTIVE.
And Amanda is actually promoting being “choosy” in two ways:
1. Be selective about your mate. I’m sure if you are a reasonably successful woman you’ve run into this problem on the mass online dating sites like Match, etc. So this is a great idea for women entrepreneurs and professionals. An app like this is needed and I think will do very well once it gets off the ground.
She shares one of my favorite quotes from the remarkable Sheryl Sandberg: “The most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner.”
2. Be selective about your market. Have the courage to be choosy about who you work with and whom you are targeting. So many women entrepreneurs are terrified of turning anyone away from our business or turning them off with our message.
And it’s time to get over it. For many of us, this fear is sourced from our innate need to feel “liked” by all, and wanting to stay away from “rocking the boat” or causing trouble. But if you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.