How Success Happened for Justin McLeod, Founder and CEO of Hinge

Justin McLeod, the CEO, and Founder of Hinge, was my guest on a recent episode of my podcast Success Happens. Hinge’s unorthodox tagline “Designed To Be Deleted” was what attracted me initially to their company. Is it possible for an app to delete itself? It is a very well-known app. Hinge is the fastest-growing dating app in the US. It has over a million users, and its revenues tripled during the pandemic.

Hinge is based on the belief that people must get away from their phones to have a long-lasting relationship. They need to be vulnerable and willing to take a chance. McLeod is no stranger to this. He’s a successful entrepreneur with a unique personal story and flew to Zurich to meet Kate, his college sweetheart. After talking for seven hours in a coffee shop, she and McLeod decided to postpone the wedding and fly back to New York. Now they are married with a son.

McLeod summons the same amount of courage when Hinge underwent a complete overhaul in 2016 and was then relaunched into the product that millions have come to love. Hinge, before then, was just another swiping application with a friends of friends twist. You could only be matched with someone you were friends with on Facebook. However, it wasn’t as successful as Tinder. McLeod’s team realized that many singles were exhausted by the endless swipes and transactional natures of many dating apps. They were ready for something more. Hinge was redesigned with one goal in mind: to get users on great dates and into meaningful relationships.

The new Hinge emphasized Prompts, which are short questions that allow singles to showcase their true selves. McLeod believes that liking a Prompt can lead to a deeper conversation and more profound connection than just swiping on an image. While the “like” rate dropped to 56% on Hinge’s new app, it still saw a rise in the number of users who went out on dates. Hinge members now spend more time on dates than they do on the app. Hinge members have been able to arrange more than 30,000,000 dates worldwide since the relaunch. A new date is fixed every 2 seconds.

McLeod was more interested in the bigger question. How aware are we of technology’s role in our lives? McLeod would say that most of us are more addicted to our phones than we realize. McLeod, a former addict who got sober the day before his college graduation, has unique insights on tech addiction and how social media companies make it easy to maximize screen time. McLeod explained to me that our current relationship with technology could often undermine the utility of technology. What are we supposed to do? It is possible to start by thinking more carefully about how we use these powerful tools. Hinge’s idea is part of that. Download the app, locate your partner, and then delete it forever.

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Samatha Vale
Samatha a senior writer for HC's entertainment team. She is an entreprenuer, mother and an excellent writer. She's also an avid reader, music enthusiast and all around inquisitive person - which is just a nice way of saying she's nosy.

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