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It was at an Upstream event about a month ago at the Parkline in Miami where I ran into Caroline Gyllensporre, co-founder at Lantern Dating, she told me that she was building a dating app – and as someone who has been out of the dating game for 16 years, I wondered, hasn't dating been solved yet? As it turns out, the answer is still no. I had no idea, I've never use Hinge, Bumble, or Tinder to find a date but as Caroline explained it to me, none of these apps truly put people, personality, and other important character traits first. That's where Lantern Dating is different.

Lantern's other co-founder, Yehuda Jason Neuman, is a Miami native and son of one of the most notable psychologists on love and dating, Gary Neuman. Gary Neuman has been featured on Oprah multiple times and is a best-selling author.

Yehuda followed in those footsteps with a specialized degree in neuropsychology. Between the three of them, they've developed a way to bring the science of human connection into the app through a series of interactive stories to connect like-minded people. As you make your way through a fun series of "choose-your-adventure" stories, you're connected with similar matches.

It's a fun and engaging experience, one that I'd imagine is much more enjoyable than simply swiping left or right on a person, who you'll likely never connect with and if you do, still may have no common interests to connect about.

In my experience with using the app (don't worry ev, they hid my profile 😂), I thought the questions were thoughtful and fun conversation starters. Plus, some of the questions even have video and imagery accompanying them, making for a much richer experience. Here's a few of the questions I was shown:

Benefits of Lantern Dating

When I spoke with Caroline and Yehuda, I loved their vision and the way they describe the benefits of using Lantern versus their competitors. Early on in the conversation, Caroline made a point that really resonated with me, on most dating apps you spend most of your time learning about other people – the large majority of which you'll never meet IRL or even connect with on the app.

With Lantern, "It [Lantern] enables you to discover things about yourself, so you can form an opinion," according Mr. Neuman, as opposed to other apps where you're mindlessly swiping, with Lantern you're at least spending time on yourself. It's not nearly as toxic and also stops wasting people's time.

The way the two co-founders described the vision of the app to me was a dating and entertainment app. Think: if Netflix and Buzzfeed had a one night stand. Spicy! 🔥

Future of Lantern Dating

Unlike some other dating apps which are designed to be deleted, Lantern Dating has a different mindset. The team is really invested in helping people develop strong, lasting relationships and their hope is that people will be able to do that with Lantern even well into their relationship. To do that, the team has plans in the future to build out additional functionality for questions that are designed to be helpful once you meet someone, meaning it will be more than a dating app, it will be an intimacy app as well.

Right now the company has more than 10,000 users in Miami as well as an up and coming presence in NYC. Both Caroline and Yehuda feel it's important to be regional at the start and I have to agree. They need to continue to build traction in major cities before expanding. Currently, the platform is comprised of 73% women, so if you're a dude looking for love now is a great time to get on!

In terms of upcoming features, the next big release will feature a Discovery page that will allow people to find content they love, answer questions, and also be able to match with each other based on topics of interest. For example, recently the team recently released a bunch of Friends-based questions for the Friends Reunion as well as Star Wars-based questions for May the 4th! I love this idea, a lot!

In other exciting news, Lantern Dating is teaming up with director Jonah Feingold, who's latest movie, Dating In New York just sold ahead of the Tribecca film festival. The plan is to work with Jonah on high quality content that can be used alongside questions built in to the app. I can't wait to see it!

How can we help?

No doubt this is a crowded space to enter, but I'm buying into both Caroline and Yehuda's mission. The world deserves a better, less toxic, more intimate dating app and I think Lantern Dating is it.

Here's how you can help Caroline, Yehuda, and Lantern Dating become a Miami success story:

  1. If you're looking for love - download the Lantern Dating app.
  2. If you're looking for an investment - Lantern is actively raising a $3m seed round (with over $1m committed). Reach out to Caroline at caroline@lantern-ventures.com.
  3. If you're looking to support - Lantern hosts local IRL events for their users to mingle. Follow them on Instagram for more info.

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