Have you ever felt lonely? When I was lonely earlier this week, I asked ChatGPT why I was the only lonely person on the planet. Well, I was just trying to feel better at the time.
Trust the chatbot to make me feel better. It disagreed, stating that there were lonely people globally.
Documented by several societies and historical periods, loneliness is a common experience that people deal with, regardless of age, gender, culture, or background.
It is a personal experience of social isolation and a lack of deep relationships with others.
Although it is difficult to draw broad conclusions about Africa, approximately 33% of adults worldwide felt lonely in 2022.
According to a South African study, the elderly had the highest average rates of loneliness, at 10%. But studies indicate that its prevalence has recently increased, particularly among younger people.
However, it is crucial to understand that loneliness is a typical human response to social isolation, not a sign of weakness or personal failing. So, seeking help and connecting with others, whether through therapy, social engagement, or other means, is critical.
Dating apps are one of these means. They might help people make connections with others and possibly feel less lonely. However, people must use them responsibly.
According to Ohio State University researchers, those who identified as socially awkward and lonely were more likely to develop a dating app addiction that interfered with their work or academics.
Nonetheless, one expert claims that using dating apps to go on virtual dates rather than just exchanging texts can help reduce loneliness.
Consequently, two brothers — Dare Olatoye (CEO) and Ayo Olatoye (CMO) — founded Trueflutter, a Nigerian dating and matchmaking app that helps Africans overcome loneliness.
How it started
Dare claims he has a track record as a problem-solver. So, it was only a matter of time before he realised the issue he and his friends were experiencing and came up with a solution.
"I knew that in Nigeria and anywhere else in the world, someone knew at least ten single people. This was a problem because there were so many single people. And you know, parents in Africa, in particular, are very concerned about this because their children aren't getting married at a young age,” he explains.
Therefore, Dare, passionate about love and bringing people together, devised a plan to connect people in 2019 and shared his idea with his brother, Ayo.
They had previously co-founded some businesses and were very close. So, trusting Ayo with Trueflutter was a good idea.
"There's always been this synergy between us. So, when I mentioned the idea, my brother understood where I was coming from and what problem I was attempting to solve. It was a no-brainer because he knew it was a million-dollar idea," Dare discloses.
Dare believes anything can come to life if you are passionate about it. Since they both share a passion for dating and developing lasting relationships and similar visions and values, getting to work was easy.
They began testing the idea to see if it would work by building a minimum viable product (MVP). They wanted to know whether people would use and be willing to pay for it.
Besides, they had speed dating events in Lagos, Nigeria, which Dare Olatoye claims were the largest in the country, demonstrating the prevalence of people looking for committed relationships.
"We got about 15,000 subscribers in a few months. We had already made around $3,000 by simply testing the idea," he says.
But when the pandemic hit in 2020, they returned to the drawing board and created the Trueflutter app because they could no longer hold events. And in January 2022, the company launched officially.
How Trueflutter works
Trueflutter provides dating and matchmaking services.
You can meet people online by downloading the app. On the other hand, people who value their privacy and don't want to be recognised online use private matchmaking services.
Before a user pays for the matchmaking service, Trueflutter consults with them via Zoom. After payment, they fill in a form that captures their information, including genotype and preferences.
Trueflutter connects Nigerians with people from the diaspora. Users are assigned a personal matchmaker who matches them with others with similar interests.
Users don't have to pay if they don't want to use the matchmaking service. The dating app is almost free.
"You can chat and do a few other things. It doesn't limit you, but if you want to access more features, you must pay for them," Dare clarifies.
If you want to meet people from the diaspora, for instance, you must pay to change your location.
Additionally, you can become invisible if you don't want people to know you are online. While others can't see you, you can send a request to anyone you find interesting.
You can also send a voice note as a friend request — so they know how you sound — if you see someone you like on the platform.
Flutters is another premium feature. When you send voice requests with it, they are displayed above all other requests, giving you more visibility. For instance, if there are ten requests and someone sends a flutter request, it is given priority because the sender paid for the flutter.
Another feature, Bloom, makes users more visible in a particular area. Moreover, premium features differ in price, and a subscriber can choose to pay for any or all of them.
The company says that it is unique among platforms because it understands its market.
Besides, it claims that the app stands out because it’s the first dating app in Africa to have an audio bio feature. When you view a person's profile, you can hear how they sound.
It also addresses segregation and socioeconomic backgrounds, which makes it more African-centric and appropriate for an African audience. The algorithm, Dare says, is distinctive and efficient.
Growth and plans
Trueflutter generates revenue through its app and matchmaking service. It raised pre-seed funding in 2022 and additional funding to scale in 2023. Thus, it wants to make a lot of money and turn a profit in a year or less.
Because 92% of Trueflutter's users have never used a dating app, Trueflutter says it constantly solicits input from its clients on enhancing the user experience for them.
Meanwhile, resolving technical issues proved difficult for the startup. However, everything changed when Trueflutter hired a CTO.
Dare says getting the right team is crucial. The company's team, for example, work tirelessly and are passionate about what they do.
With a staff strength of 12, it's currently setting up a marketing team in South Africa and Kenya before starting operations in these countries.
“We have over 40,000 organic subscribers from Kenya alone. And we've had a lot from South Africa, so that's why we're hitting those markets,” he reveals.
The company has about 250,000 subscribers and plans to hit 1 million by the end of 2023.
In 2022, it hosted nine weddings and has had two this year. Dare claims this shows the acceptability of dating apps and that people are more open to finding love online than offline by searching endlessly.
Trueflutter plans to build the biggest dating app in the world. It seeks to connect with Africans living abroad, including in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.