Smartphones have made dating as simple as a swipe, but four Dallas brothers hope to bring some chivalry to dating apps with Courtem. Created by Peter, Alex, Adie and Andrew von Gontard, the iPhone app, which launched in December, offers an alternative to Tinder and Hinge.
The old-school twist? Users pitch dates and, well, court one another.
Much like Tinder, users receive a bunch of profiles, and they can look through pictures and see mutual Facebook friends. From there, however, they have the option to “Pass” if there’s no interest, “Hold” on to the profile for later or “Court.” If you pick the third option, you’re prompted to propose a date in 140 characters or less and schedule a time for said date.
“The date proposal is an ice breaker, showing who you are and giving an immediate connection,” Courtem co-founder Alex von Gontard says.
The von Gontard brothers came up with Courtem while working in real estate and sports management, hoping to fill a void in a dating app scene that was primarily focused on quick, looks-based judgments, and people had to match to get the ball rolling.
The idea, they say, is to make it more than just about hooking up with someone based on physical appearance.
“Tinder’s considered a hook-up app and branded as such,” Alex says. “It’s endless swiping and kind of looks-based. We wanted to evolve from that with a direct date proposal that offers transparency to users. It’s an ice breaker, showing who you are and giving an immediate connection.”
So far, Peter says that it’s roughly 80/20 in favor of guys sending out date requests. If the receiver likes the offer, he or she can accept it and begin chatting, reject the date (users don’t know if their dates are rejected or not), or put the offer up for any potential suitors to beat it with a better date.
Courtem incorporates pieces from popular apps (dating or non-dating) such as star ratings from Uber, swiping from Tinder and double dates from Grouper to create a full-fledged dating system that marries more traditional online dating services with streamlined app usage. But the focus is on the dates.
“Most people want a date,” Peter says. “This really gives girls the power to get to know a guy and gives guys an opportunity to put themselves out there and level the playing field for everyone. There’s an immediacy, but it’s not just based on appearance, which has been the benchmark.”
So far, Courtem has more than 1,300 users in Dallas in less than a month of activity. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joined the company’s advisory board earlier this month and will advise and assist the brothers as they expand to other cities. He will have an equity stake in the company and participate in board meetings.
More updates are coming this month, including a “wink” feature that allows users to let someone know they’re interested even before the courting has started. And Peter says that Courtem users are playing the game.
“Just talking to our friends who are using it and some other people, we’ve already heard about dates at fancy restaurants or out at the Dallas Arboretum or just hiking. That’s our niche — focus on courtship, pitch yourself and get to know someone.”