New year, new you, new app

Venue brings activity-based matching to Dayton


Venue can help singles meet through mutually-enjoyed activities happening in Dayton

By Victoria Ferguson

What generally follows an interaction on Tinder, Bumble, and other dating apps, is a sub-par conversation with someone who probably sent the same cheesy pick-up line or lackluster “hey” to ten other people. You send a few messages back and forth. Eventually, the conversation fizzles out, returning you back to repeat the endless swiping cycle again and again.

For someone genuinely looking to connect and meet people, this can get frustrating quickly. Among the many other pitfalls of online dating are catfishes, people who don’t have any real photos at all, and the infamous unprompted “dick pic.” Couple all those with the fact that your average dating app profile contains only a few words, if any, and it can be very difficult to sniff out anyone with whom you may be compatible.

Dayton local Andrew Bowman is trying to change all that with his dating app, Venue. Bowman, a self-proclaimed “Air Force Reserve pilot by day, serial entrepreneur by night,” wanted to create a dating app that would eliminate all the meaningless texting and get people out doing things. Enter Venue. Bowman and co-founder Erik Lasky, a graduate of the University of Dayton, have been hard at work trying to change the online dating scene with this new app.

Venue trades endless swiping of faces in favor of a method that instantly connects daters with people who have the same interests as them. Users start by picking local activities that sound fun to them—trips to breweries, restaurants, and entertainment spots. The app then connects you with other users who are interested in doing the same things. If you see someone you like, you match with them and arrange a meeting.

Creator Bowman says the idea for the app rose out of “a frustration for what’s happening on modern dating apps. Conversations seem to be shallow and never go anywhere. Suggesting meeting up is awkward.”

This approach takes all of the planning and awkwardness out of trying to arrange that first date. They call it “offline dating.” The idea is to cut through all the noise and get back to what the core of dating really is: going out and doing fun, new things with fun, new people. With the ability to handpick activities you are interested in, there’s no more need to suffer through a first date you hate with someone you have nothing in common with. This will ultimately help daters expedite the process and find Mr. or Ms. Right quicker, if that’s their thing. And they don’t even have to say they met on Tinder or Bumble.

Bowman himself is in a happy relationship and has never had to endure any dating app disasters, but that doesn’t stop him from empathizing with those who turn to the apps. “I think to myself, ‘If I was single, would I ever use any of those? I would feel weird about it, you know—saying we met on Tinder.”

Regardless of whether or not anyone would be willing to admit the same, it’s safe to say online dating is a new kind of normal—especially among millennials. More and more people are turning to dating apps to find that special someone. According to a 2016 survey by Pew Research Center, the number of 18-24-year-olds who used online dating went up from 10 percent in 2013 to 27 percent in 2016. However, of the total amount surveyed who said they used online dating, one-third had never actually met up with anyone from an online dating site or app. Clearly, something just isn’t clicking for some Tinder users.

Bowman thinks this is due to a combination of the insincerity of most conversations on dating apps and the stigma surrounding the use of them. He hopes Venue will stop daters from being so bashful. “With Venue, people don’t even have to say they met online. They can say they ‘met’ at whatever place they arranged to meet.” This might seem like stretching the truth a bit, but technically it isn’t a lie. Especially when Venue users can “meet” doing some pretty cool things.

One locale Venue wants to set people up at is Proto Build Bar, a Dayton spot where you can print something on a 3D printer, tinker with electronics, and grab a drink, plus some grub. Another is Urban Krag Climbing Center, a rock climbing wall built in an old church just outside of the Oregon District. Then there’s Speakeasy Yoga, a hot yoga studio offering a variety of classes for any level. Along with these mainstay options, there will also be the occasional concert or festival to choose from.

With all these fun options and its no-nonsense approach to planning dates, Venue could very well be the dating app you’ve been waiting for. Andrew Bowman and his team are currently using Dayton as an opportunity to Beta-test Venue. If you’re fed up with the state of dating apps and want to do something other than “Netflix and Chill,” check this one out!

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