Interview With the founder of Dattch, Robyn Exton.
Introducing Robyn Exton, entrepreneur and founder of Dattch, the hugely successful dating app for women who want to meet other women. Ahead of an exclusive event for Dattch members hosted by Coco de Mer, Robyn tells us how she challenged the current online dating scene and what she learnt along the way.
Tell us about Dattch and how it started? What inspired you to create the company?
It all started on a Sunday afternoon in the pub with some friends. One of my good girlfriends had just been dumped and we were signing her to what used to be the most popular lesbian dating site in the UK. It was clear that the site was just a re-skin of a gay male site, with no thought being put into how women would want to use it differently. I just felt that it had to be possible to create something better, something actually built and designed just for women. So I quit my job and started looking into making the first app truly and exclusively designed for lesbian and bisexual women.
Where did the name come from?
It came from the two words Date & Catch. Over time though the app has become so much more than dating that we don't call it a dating app as it would be unfair to the users that join to make friends. So Dattch has come to mean something new - a way for lesbian and bi women to chat and meet with each other.
What has Dattch taught you about women's sexual behavior?
We don't get to see much of their behaviour in the app unfortunately as we're not an app for hookups, that all happens after the date, but what we have learnt a lot about is the sexuality of women in the UK and USA. There's an ever growing generation of women that are comfortable having a non-binary sexuality and see themselves sitting on a scale somewhere. They don't always feel the need to define what their sexuality is but have been looking for a space to meet like minded women. There's such a range of women on the platform, from those looking for a one off experience alongside women that have been gay for over 40 years to those that are still figuring it all out. The point is, it's an environment where who you are and what you identify as doesn't really matter, it's just a space for being yourself, being a woman.
Dattch has won awards for it's design. What makes it award winning and stand out from the crowd and how does this aid people making connections?
We've really focused on what women are looking for specifically. Every other site and app out there has always looked to work seamlessly for men, and women come as a later thought (most of these businesses make their money from men which is why they look at their behaviour) but Dattch is all about women. What women look for to select a profile, what makes them send a message, how we can make the message creation as easy as possible. When everything is built to work as easily as possible, specifically for women, the barriers to sending that first message and getting a reply become lower and lower. And it definitely helps that the interface design feels particularly beautiful.
What was life like before Dattch and what are the biggest changes both professionally and personally?
It was life - but not as I know it now!! I actually had a social life, time to do sport and go on holiday. Now things are pretty much all about the app with the odd day to finally see friends and family again. Professionally, I've gone from a role where I knew a lot of what I was doing everyday to having no idea what's about to come up. Learning to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable has been one of the greatest challenges. You're always looking at the unexpected and being put into high pressure situations so learning to be ok with that has been essential.
You vet members to keep your female-only promise. Have there been any highlights throughout the process? What are the benefits of meeting prospective members?
It's been one of the most time consuming parts of creating the app but it's something we take really seriously. Having phone calls with the ridiculous guys that are trying to sign up to find a girl for a threesome has been hilarious. There are sites exclusively for threesomes - go there!
We're about to collaborate to host a night for your members at Coco de Mer. Why did you cite Coco de Mer as a brand that would inspire young women?
From the moment I walked in the door at Coco De Mer I knew we had to do something there. I've been a huge fan for a long time but the experience of a Coco De Mer night is unlike any other. It feels like a space designed for women, feminine but strong, how we want Dattch to feel. It's like you're stepping into a fantasy land, where everything has been laid out for your exclusive viewing and pleasure. And that's something I would want every Dattch member to experience. Like us, it's a brand, experience and product range created by women, for women.
Dattch is pro sex toy. What makes this an important aspect of the Dattch lifestyle?
We exist to make women feel proud of themselves, in whatever form that may need to be, emotionally, politically, sexually. Sexuality is a huge part of a woman's identity and feeling like you have the confidence and resources to feel truly proud of that is incredibly important. There are so many options and opportunities that toys give women that it would be rude not to support their use.
We'll be talking toys on the evening. What's on your wishlist?
There's too many to choose from! But if we must I'm currently lusting after the Lelo Ida, the Tantus Feeldoe Classic Vibrating Double Dildo and the Coco de Mer Ceramic Hot and Cold Dildo. Also on my list, although its not a toy, is a pair of the Jaqueline Silk Lace Wrist Restraints.
Dattch allows for safe, open conversation similarly to Coco de Mer. What do think the difficulties are for young women who want to explore their sexuality? Do you think you've broken any barriers?
Just knowing where to go to look for this can be the biggest barrier and that's the main one we've taken on. By making it an exclusively female zone (we use Facebook to check this in a 100% private way, no one will ever know you've signed up) and a friendly community, there are thousands of women ready to talk with you and meet up for what will hopefully be an incredible coffee, cocktail or meeting of choice.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Without a doubt meeting the users. We hold a Stitch 'n Bitch in our office every few months where users come in with a bottle of wine and a handful of wool. We drink, we gossip and get to understand what our community is looking for in their lives.
Is there anything that the Dattch team are curious about and would like to explore?
We've all been a bit tame on the bondage side of things so learning about how you can use restraints, whips and paddles would be interesting. I love Paul Seville's Neck to Wrist Restraint and the Sensua Whip by Lelo.
For a night of erotic education, which of our Salons would you recommend to Dattch members?
It's got to be a women only event for us, hopefully something a bit new and definitely exciting. It would have to be Divine Pleasure Balls: A Salon with Uta Demontis.
What's next for Dattch?
Next up is New York! We're launching there on June 20th along with our Android version of the app. It's been a little while in the making but I can't wait to get it out there.