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Online dating services allow users to become "members" by creating a profile and uploading personal information including (but not limited to) age, gender, sexual orientation, location, and appearance.Most services also encourage members to add photos or videos to their profile.The first build of the app cost about ,000, 20 percent of which came directly from Anderson’s pocket and the rest from a loan.
“We did our own research on the matter, speaking to hundreds of young men and women with disabilities, as well as their parents, at dozens of conferences and events over the years to see if there was desire for a product like this,” Anderson said, noting that it includes the non-disabled and is available on mobile.
It’s an idea that could have staying power, according to John Madigan, an industry research analyst with IBISWorld.“If you look at the behavior of the major players in this industry and what’s going on in the market, it’s really geared towards niche dating groups — people want to find a group they feel that they’re a part of,” Madigan said.
In just more than a month, Glimmer has signed on about 5,000 active users worldwide, and that number is growing by a couple hundred downloads each day, Anderson said.
Still, he notes that when it comes to an app that promotes meeting up face-to-face, success is dependent on the number of users in each market location rather than users scattered around the globe.
Geoff Anderson, from left, looks at the Glimmer app with his brother Steve and mother Christine.
Steve Anderson, who has cognitive disabilities, inspired his brother Geoff to create the app.
While they’re interviewing interns to assist with social media, marketing and design, the two founders are the only full-time employees.
They teamed with California-based to develop the app and will continue their partnership as they roll out Glimmer 2.0 — a version with trivia games, a group date function and sponsored events that they’re hoping to launch in the next six months.
From there, things start looking familiar: Users can specify whether they’re seeking a friendship or romantic relationship, with men or women, and they can search via a handful of discovery settings, including age and disability type.“If someone is deaf and wants to connect with others who are also deaf, we made that possible,” Anderson said.
So far, 35 percent of Glimmer users have said on the site that they do not have a disability, while 65 percent declare that they do.
As for why someone without disabilities might give this app a shot, Anderson credits empathy — and firsthand experience.“A lot of research suggests personal interaction in their personal lives is a large determinant in this decision — for example, maybe their father was hearing-impaired or a good friend has cerebral palsy,” he said.