UF students can venture into the wild of online dating with a new Gator-made app dubbed Jungle.
UF alumni Sebastian Galindo, Jungle’s chief executive officer and founder, and Jake Nolan, the app’s chief operating officer, created Jungle to improve online dating. The app promises in-person dates as users match with others who have at least one favorite place, like a restaurant, in common.
The app will launch beta testing in Gainesville Nov. 27, Galindo said. The team will plan events during UF’s Spring syllabus week before moving on to Tallahassee, Orlando, Tampa and Miami — other notable Florida college towns.
“We make live dates happen by pairing the person with the place in common, so when you have those conversations there’s no awkward like ‘Hey, how are you? Wanna come over?’ It’s like ‘Are we going to this date at Dragonfly at 7 because we both like sushi?’” Nolan said.
When a user makes an account, there is a list of nearby sit-down restaurants, bars and activities like miniature golf, sunset watching and bowling. These locations or activities can be favorited, and then the user can only swipe on individuals who have at least one choice in common, Galindo said. After a match, the users have 72 hours to plan a date and can make reservations through Jungle.
Galindo started developing the app in Fall 2020, his senior year. His idea came after recognizing other dating apps’ failure to generate real, in-person dates when using Tinder, Bumble and Hinge.
“The main problem they have is once you match, it’s very hard to actually meet up, or it’s just weird,” Galindo said.
Galindo credits another flaw of today’s dating apps to matching with people that a user would normally never see out. Jungle provides a solution to this by allowing users to swipe on people who enjoy the same social setting.
Megan Keating, a 19-year-old UF microbiology junior, experiences these problems with dating apps, which she described as “the worst”.
“It’s so easy to say something over the internet and then be like done,” Keating said. “But, if you’ve already liked the same restaurant, it’s weird if you don’t show up. You both picked that.”
Her response is what Galindo and Nolan were hoping for. Nolan said they are making dating easier by providing opportunities for in-person dates.
“I feel like half of dating is figuring out where the hell you’re going to go,” Keating said. “It’s way easier because you already picked a place.”
Jacob Soto, a 20-year-old UF economics junior, said apps like Tinder and Bumble tend toward hook-up culture. He approves of Jungle’s approach to online dating.
“It’s coming in with the assumption of dates,” Soto said.
Both Soto and Keating indicated problems like catfishing, ghosting and being stood up. Keating said apps like Tinder rarely ever lead to in-person dates.
These issues create a stigma around online dating; something Jungle intends to change.
People use dating apps to meet people that they normally wouldn’t, but then don’t end up meeting face to face. Jungle plans to erase the online dating stigma by promoting in-person dates to promote real chemistry that is built in person, Nolan said.
Jungle has officially closed its first investment round and received a valuation of $2.3 million.
The dating app will generate revenue from the venues and the users, Galindo said. It will offer premium subscriptions that are found on other apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge.
While developing Jungle, Galindo recognized the hit restaurants took during the pandemic. The app aims to generate foot traffic for these venues while also making money for Jungle through premium user subscriptions, similar to those found on Tinder and Bumble with super-like or super-swipe features, and selling data to venues and advertisers.
“We’re going to make it fun for the users and make it fun for the restaurants,” Galindo said.
The former Gators hope to inspire young entrepreneurs and show them that it is possible to take an idea and make it a reality.
Contact Emma Behrmann at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmabehrmann.
Emma is a second-year journalism major with a minor in Spanish. She is the education reporter this semester. She's from Palm Harbor, Florida, but her second home is the gym. When she’s not writing she’s either deadlifting, squatting or benching.