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The League
The League founder and CEO Amanda Bradford, center. (The League Photo)

Are you single in Seattle? Does the idea of forming a “power couple” interest you? Did you graduate from a top school? Do you have a demanding job?

Good news for you: The League is here.

The technology-powered dating service, which uses a highly-selective admissions-based model to screen potential users, is expanding to Seattle.

The League
(The League Photo)

Founded in 2014, The League differentiates itself from the bevy of dating apps with a vetting process that scrutinizes a candidate’s education, career, and, as founder Amanda Bradford explains, “ambition.”

“It’s a dating app for aspiring power couples,” Bradford told GeekWire this week. “It’s for people who are career-focused; super ambitious; and driven. We are really servicing those busy professionals.”

The League was originally only available in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and a handful of other places. But this summer it is expanding to 10 different cities, including Seattle. The startup has racked up more than 500,000 sign-ups on its platform.

Bradford said her company has already sold more than 100 memberships — $179 per year, which speeds up the matching process and provides access to special perks — to Seattle-based users, even before the app was active in the city.

“I can’t think of another city that is on brand as much as Seattle in terms of just how educated it is — that’s really a core demographic,” she said. “It will be a perfect fit for the model.”

The League CEO and founder Amanda Bradford. (The League Photo)

Once you sign up for The League — it asks for Facebook and LinkedIn profile access, along with personal details and detailed preferences for a potential partner — the company puts you through both a human review committee and an algorithm to decide if, basically, you’re good enough. The service has, on average, a 20-to-30 percent acceptance rate.

Bradford likened this process to how top colleges screen out applicants and equated it to “admissions-based dating.” The company once described itself as a “Harvard admission committee meets Tinder.” Bradford also said The League is similar to a private members-only club like Soho House.

The app then sends users 3-to-5 potential matches per day.

“You’ll never have to wonder if that Harvard hottie is too good to be true on The League,” its website reads.

At The League’s Miami launch party. (The League Photo)

Added Bradford: “We want to create a diverse community of people from different backgrounds that are people you couldn’t just meet by going to your neighborhood bar.”

There certainly other apps that target specific groups of people based on status. Luxy is for millionaires; Raya is for celebrities; The Inner Circle “connects ambitious, like-minded people.” Even Tinder recently rolled out “Tinder Select,” a secret, members-only version of the popular dating app.

Asked about being described as an “elitist” dating app, Bradford said companies like Google and schools like Harvard could also be called “elitist” because they don’t accept everybody. She also noted that those places “create the highest quality matches.”

“It’s less about whether this makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy, but more about: is it effective?” Bradford explained. “And we’ve seen it be wildly effective. The model really works; it’s modeled after institutions that produce couples at a high-rate.”

Bradford, who’s received her fair share of criticism for the app’s selective process, added that “we’re not necessarily rejecting people.”

“We’re putting people in at the right time in the best interest of the community,” she said. “To me, that’s not elitist. That’s putting the community first.”

The League
A League launch party in San Diego. (The League Photo)

Bradford also pointed out that we’ve reached an inflection point in the modern dating world given that it’s the first time women and men are “professionally equal from a numbers perspective.”

“And it’s not only professionally, but women are starting to demand equality in relationships,” she said. “They’re not the ones taking trash out or taking the kids to school. That needs to be discussed and negotiated. We serve as a nice foundation for people who want those kind of relationships.”

Bradford, a 30-year-old Stanford MBA graduate who worked at Salesforce, Google, and Sequoia Capital, penned a blog post in 2015 titled “I’m Not An Elitist, I’m Just An Alpha Female” that sheds more light on the philosophy behind The League. From the post:

The League’s heavily scrutinized admissions-based model is our attempt to create a founding community of high-achieving, diverse, and influential members that will serve as trailblazers to help change the conventional gender views still prevalent in our society. Yes, we are selective – we believe in the research that correlates education and professional achievement with ambition, and weigh these data heavily in our screening algorithms. Though it’s currently a slow and far from a perfect admissions process, 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.

And then our mission has failed.

The couples that we create, even if small in absolute numbers right now, ideally will go on to successfully demonstrate that dual-career relationships are not only possible, they are preferable. These power couples will ultimately serve as the role models that our society sorely lacks today.

The League, which employs 25 people and raised $2.5 million, also throws private parties for its members and will host a launch event in Seattle next week.

Bradford said she’s excited to see how the app performs in Seattle. She’s heard it’s a city where people mostly hang out with their friends; a place that doesn’t boast a “mingly culture.” Some folks have told her it’s “like San Francisco but worse.”

“I think Seattle could be a really awesome market for us,” Bradford said. “I’ve heard the dating is quite painful there.”

The League already received 9,534 applicants and accepted 2,005 users in Seattle — about a 22 percent acceptance rate. The average age is 27. Here is some more data on Seattle users:

Top 3 Employers

  • Amazon: 15 percent
  • Microsoft: 12 percent
  • Starbucks: 8 percent

Top 3 Schools

  • University of Washington: 12 percent
  • Stanford University: 7 percent
  • University of Pennsylvania: 6 percent

Top neighborhoods

  • Ballard: 9 percent
  • Capitol Hill: 6 percent
  • Belltown: 5 percent

Top 3 Degrees

  • MBA: 6 percent
  • MD: 4 percent
  • JD: 3 percent

Top 3 Job Titles

  • Software Engineer: 11 percent
  • Resident Physician: 7 percent
  • Founder: 4 percent

Top 3 About Me’s

  • California girl living the Seattle life. Living the millennial struggle balancing work, fitness, friends, and online dating apps…send help
  • West coast heart, Midwest roots. I have a love/hate relationship with hiking. Avid reader. Big fan of skiing, bigger fan of après-ski.
  • Elegant tomboy, sociable computer geek, articulate introvert. I appreciate the finer things in life- like bacon cooked just right, a nice glass of rose, and back tickles.
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