The Inner Circle, London’s latest dating website and app, bills itself as a network for “like-minded” individuals; a “high-end”, “exclusive community” with an “impressive following of successful and attractive people.”
“The Inner Circle is the first and only dating website with a strict invite-only policy that includes a thorough screening upon registration to ensure eligible singles with similar lifestyles and mutual friends can meet each other in a friendly and trustworthy community,” the website explains.
What really sets The Inner Circle apart, though, CEO and cofounder David Vermeulen tells us, is its “exclusive parties” — held at some of London’s “most glamorous” venues. Barts in Chelsea, Whisky Mist in Mayfair, and Bodo’s Schloss in Kensington have been on the list. Although the entry rules are strict, Vermeulen has also provided plenty of features to keep users engaged once they are in.
The site just launched in London after setting up in Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Stockholm and Amsterdam, where it was founded. In social dating terms, The Inner Circle is a more complex, European equivalent to US app The League. So far, 50,000 people have been approved; there’s a waiting list of far more.
Here is a breakdown of Inner Circle members by job:
We went along to the most recent Inner Circle party at Notting Hill’s Little Yellow Door, to see what it was all about.
The Little Yellow Door is a bar that operates like a house party — it isn’t open every night and you have to sign up if you want to attend. You can use WhatsApp to talk to the hosts who tell you when to arrive.
The space is decorated like someone’s arty flat. There is even a full set of toiletries in the bathroom, as if someone lived there.
The night we attended, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The website hosts “after-work drinks and dinner parties in new and exciting bars and restaurants, all over the capital.”
To date, The Inner Circle has amassed 4,000 members in London. The network/app works in a similar way to many dating sites: There are “like” functions, photo browsing, profile building, and ways to interact and chat. But the website is also quite Facebook-like. People post plans to go out to bars and clubs, visitors to London can ask for advice and meet-ups.
A “trending hotspots” section notes where the hottest new restaurants and drinking spots are.
More than 250,000 messages were sent between members of The Inner Circle in December 2014. The London community’s active members have grown by 100% over the past 12 weeks.
The party we went to was pretty packed.
Vermeulen came up with the idea for Inner Circle with his friend Michael Krayenhoff, also from Amsterdam. Vermeulen is a passionate polo player, and is also the founder of The London Alumni Club. When asked if he dates his own members, he said, he “doesn’t get high from his own supply”.
He does drink with them, though — the bar was busy.
On The Inner Circle site, users enjoy organised events at nice restaurants such as Yauatcha and Burger & Lobster, visit clubs like Shoreditch House, and dozens post about their latest trips to Barcelona, Paris.
There’s a lot going on — members provide plenty of details and information. It is very different to Tinder and Happn, which rely on speed and engagement. The Inner Circle is going for a slightly older group (average age is 30), but one that wants to go out on the town and sip champagne.
Here’s a selection of recent Inner Circle events:
Inner Circle members are “selected based on profession, age, education, interests, and more” the CEO says. The idea is to have a community of people with similar high-end lifestyles. He told me at the event that the website is going well and he hopes it continues to grow. “I thought there was a gap in the market for a more inclusive, social network-style dating community,” he told me. “There are loads of websites and lots of apps, but nothing completely modern and fresh for networking — and definitely nothing specifically for high-end users.”
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