Whether it’s a best friend, roommate, group chat, coworker, or (in my case) mom, most of us have a go-to when it comes to talking about our love lives. They’ve probably heard it all—the horrific first dates, surprising setups, blind meetups, and love-at-first-sights—and offered advice, consoling, and guidance after every experience. But what if your trusted confidant was actually there to help you make decisions before even saying yes to a potential suitor?
Well with Vouch, a Dallas social matchmaking and dating app, your friends get to sign off on who they think is the one.
If the name sounds familiar, it might be because you’re a fan of Bachelor Nation. Back in 2018, Vouch was co-founded by Sean Lowe, the former Bachelor who’s best known for being one of the only ones to stay married to the winner of his season, Catherine.
Lowe recognized that finding love was becoming more unconventional; he found Catherine amidst nearly two dozen other lucky ladies being dropped off at his front door. So he and his business partners designed Vouch for all members of a social circle, those that are both single and taken.
After being around for about 18 months, the Vouch team realized safety and authenticity were becoming a growing concern in the world of online dating and decided to ramp up awareness. As the app is geared primarily toward women, Lowe and the founders recognized that a female voice would be key to the successful growth of the platform.
So, last month, Christiana Yebra was brought on as CEO.
“I felt it was important to hire a female CEO for a couple of reasons,” Lowe says. “We want an app that appeals to women because we feel like women are the foundation of any good dating app. We believe Christiana is the perfect woman to run our company and make our brand appealing to other women given her history in the space. Secondly, I think Christiana will help Vouch steer away from the ‘hookup culture’ that so often seems to be entwined with dating apps by lending her strategic vision and leadership to create a dating app that is unique, fun and most importantly—safe.”
Yebra is well-versed in the startup space, having helped launch and sell Texas’ first on-demand urgent care app. She led a med-tech startup in territory sales until its acquisition in 2018, and founded Dallas Millennial Club. For someone who spent the past five years connecting brands and people, joining Vouch seemed like the next natural move.
“I was looking for my next kind of ‘mix up.’ I wanted to do some new shake-up that was totally different,” Yebra told Dallas Innovates. “Something I think about all the time for my friends is safety, and if guys are the right ones for them. So every decision we make [at Vouch], whether it’s some feature on the app, or how we engage on social media, or the types of events we’re hosting, that’s in the back of my mind. I don’t ever want to stray away from that. Because one of my biggest motivations for joining the team is to create something that’s better.”
How it works
Singles can download the Vouch app and then invite their favorite people to be ‘Vouchers’ that build their profile, endorse their qualities, and approve potential candidates. Yebra compares it to LinkedIn, where coworkers can recommend each other for certain skills—Vouch is the only app on the market that brings your charisma to light in a different way. If you’re swiping on the app as a dater, you’re more likely to match with someone if they have a multitude of Vouchers in their corner.
“The way Vouch works allows me to be the mama bear. I’m not looking for a relationship, but I can join in with my single friends who are,” Yebra says. “And not only do I get to see the matches who they could potentially be matched with, but I also get to see who is vouching for the guys.”
It’s not an arranged setup, though. Vouch sends your friends’ pre-selected picks to the top of your pile, and then you have the opportunity to say yes or no.
And if a genuine connection happens to be sparked, you can still stick around.
“If you get on a dating app today and you find love tomorrow, you’re encouraged to delete that app, take it off your phone, and never look at it again,” Yebra says. “With Vouch, what makes it interesting and valuable, is that you can be dating, find the love of your life, toggle the dating off, and then send invites to your friends. That’s kind of what our generation’s all about—sharing great experiences. If someone has a really positive experience, the idea is that they’d invite their friends and say: ‘Hey, I found the love of my life on this app, why don’t you join?’ It kind of gives it a really cool life span for the customer.”
Yebra also hopes Vouch will remove the stigma behind finding love on a dating app. Rather than get jaded by the swiping motion, Vouch aims to put intention back into matching.
“Vouch narrows in on the people who are really serious and honest and authentic on their search to find high quality matches that they could spend good quality time with versus sifting through the guys who’re there for the wrong reasons,” Yebra says. “I worry about the guys who don’t want anyone to know that they’re on dating apps because it doesn’t provide any accountability. With Vouch, I feel much safer recommending it. I feel proud to recommend it.”
The next step for Vouch
Now that Yebra’s on-board to drive the business, Vouch is prepared to make it’s mark on the swiping scene. The technology has been revamped, and a new version has been released for iOS.
Yebra has aggressive goals to build the Vouch community, and is currently in the process of raising money to expand the tech. She even sees potential for the app to go beyond dating. “We’re planning for some pretty cool features to be added where you’re vouching for other things, because part of the dating game is vouching for the top spots to go or the best restaurants for great experiences,” she says. “There’s just a lot of cool things we can do with the idea of vouching for something.”
Yebra’s also on the hunt for potential partnerships and collaborations.
“I had kind of stepped away from the startup community for a bit, and now I’m back in and really trying to figure out how we can not only support other businesses, but how we can collaborate to grow individual audiences,” she says. “My favorite part about Dallas and the community itself is that everyone’s really interested in partnering and helping each other, which I haven’t experienced in other cities. And I think it’s been part of my success and the success of some of my businesses here.”
Despite Yebra’s big plans, her main focus right now is building out Vouch’s user base so there are plenty of matches to choose from. She just wants more people to be able to participate and know that this option exists.
“I’m hoping we have some really great matches that come about,” she says. “I’ve joked that I want to officiate the first Vouch wedding. I need to look into that.”
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