When Sydneysider Melanie Leahy became single after a long-term relationship, she did what many others do when they’re looking for love: she downloaded a dating app. After swiping and feeling like she was a “digital commodity”, her friend Elisse Alexander offered to be her ultimate wingwoman to help her meet people in bars, the old-fashioned way.

“One of the things that frustrated us – and one of the reasons why we built Ziinkle – was that we never knew which venues to go out to on the weekend to find people in our own age group,” says Leahy. “So we would go to venues, and people would be too young or old.”

After spending a year trying and failing to form connections with people “in real life”, the pair decided to create Ziinkle. The dating app works differently to Tinder or Bumble – it’s all about connecting you to people who are out in venues while you’re there too.

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“We’re like their dating GPS,” Leahy tells Broadsheet. “Our venue search feature allows users to see on a map where and how many other singles (who match their preferences) are out socially. This helps them know where to be, so they’re in the right place at the right time.”

Leahy and Alexander wanted to avoid the “gamification” of other dating app experiences. They tested Ziinkle in New South Wales first, where they also ran IRL dating nights. “We’ve been blown away by the take-up and the traction we’re getting,” says Alexander. “We can’t wait to roll them out around Australia shortly.”

“Once at a venue, singles can see users’ profiles, giving them the option to meet in real-life or send an introduction nudge first,” explains Leahy. “Then you can lock eyes from across the room and suss out the connection. As a result, there are no awkward dates, ghosting or surface-level chat that drags on for weeks.”

Within the app, the creators have included safety features so users can report bad behaviour. And if something happens with someone you’ve matched with, you’ll still be able to see their profile and chat history for 30 days, says Leahy. “Even if they unmatch you or delete their profile. That information can be given straight to the authorities should it be required.”

“One of the most exciting parts of dating is when you unexpectedly meet someone out,” says Leahy, who points out that Ziinkle’s format means the first connection can be really casual. “If there is no connection, it’s easy to politely end the conversation and walk away.”

Ziinkle is running singles events in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Find the details on its events page.

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