Any other business

Bristlr: The UK dating business finding love for 75,000 beard fans

4 min read

27 April 2015

Former deputy editor

As online dating becomes increasingly common, businesses need a USP to stand out. Seemingly looking into niche areas is the way forward, as demonstrated with beard-centric offering Bristlr.

The app was created by 28-year-old John Kershaw, a Manchester-based software developer who created the service as a joke.

It should be noted that fellow British business Blippar started as a joke down the pub between two tech-loving friends, and the augmented reality firm is now working with global brands and has generated multiple funding rounds worth millions of pounds.

So while Tinder connects people based on location in a game-like fashion and MySingleFriend requires the help of mates, Bristlr is designed to connect people with beards to lovers of excessive facial hair.

Following a launch in late 2014, the dating app has received more than 75,000 registrations, more than half a million sent messages and almost 250,000 beard ratings.

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“It started as a funny idea. The tag line ‘Connecting those with beards to those who want to stroke beards’ came first. I posted it as a joke to Facebook, then decided to take it a bit further and make a fake sign up page,” Kershaw explained.

“To my surprise, people started signing up. It took two weeks to make the first prototype, and it’s been growing ever since. I started thinking about all the new apps and services which connect people like Uber and AirBnB. I was procrastinating from work and stroking my beard, and that was my light-bulb moment.”

Although the service came from the north of England, registered users can be found in the US, Canada, Brazil and Holland, while further locations are set to follow.

Interestingly, one of the apps key features is designed to prevent heartbreak at the hand of love rats. An internal monitoring tool will detect if people are using a copy and paste approach to messaging love interests and alert the party in danger of being cheated.

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Kershaw revealed: “When somebody gets a message that’s been copied and pasted, the message is sent as normal but there’s a warning underneath which will say something like ‘Just so you know, (name) has sent this exact message to at least (number) of other people.

“We don’t stop people doing things, we just surface the information about what they’re doing so the other person can make an informed decision. If someone has said “Hey, how’s it going” to 5 people, that’s fine. But if they’re saying you’re the only one for them, and they’ve sent that to 50 people, that’s not going to fly.”