Members of The League socialize on the rooftop of Soho Beach House during the Miami launch party of The League. The League dating app launched in Kansas City this month. Courtesy of The League |

Forget swipes, an exclusive 'League' of ambitious KC millennials use this dating app

The League |
Alyssa Canfield, 25, of Kansas City, is one of 500 people chosen to make up the founding class of The League dating app. Courtesy photo |

Since Alyssa Canfield moved to Kansas City from Salt Lake City last summer, she's enjoyed sampling barbecue and working at a company she loves.

But the dating scene has been “bleak,” the 25-year-old said, especially for a newcomer trying to break into Kansas City cliques made up of people who went to college together or grew up locally.

The pharmaceutical sales representative had also grown weary of navigating the pitfalls that can accompany the use of dating apps: fending off “creepy guys” who just want to hook up, swiping through hundreds of accounts and wondering if the people she was interacting with were quality people, or even real people at all.

So when she got an email two weeks ago informing her that she would be a founding member of The League, an exclusive, invite-only dating app for educated and ambitious millennials, she was more than excited.

She screamed at the hairdresser’s salon.

“I think it’s really cool that it's young professionals and they are actively looking for a dating life," said Canfield, who sells a drug that helps diagnose bladder cancer. "It’s not just a hook-up. It’s people looking for a relationship and to go on dates.”

It also provided Canfield a certain assurance that matches made on the app would have what she was looking for in a partner: intelligence, confidence, someone with "their life together and a great job."

Founded by a Stanford University MBA graduate, The League launched in San Francisco in 2015, and gained popularity by curating users based on their education, profession, online presentation and desirability.

The app has since expanded to more than 30 cities, including Kansas City and St. Louis.

The exclusivity is part of the appeal. While Kansas City’s founding class was capped at 507, more than 3,000 people are now on The League’s waiting list.

Company statistics suggest that Cerner, Children's Mercy Hospital and the University of Kansas Medical Center are the top employers of the "founding class." The top three neighborhoods? The Plaza, Westport and the Crossroads.

“There’s so much growing there that it made sense for us to launch now even though the city is quite small,” Meredith Davis, the League's director of communications, said about the app's launch in Kansas City. “Five-hundred users in The League is small, but we think it’s going to be pretty viral.”

Billed as “a members-only club with a killer singles scene,” more than 300,000 people across the country who have been invited to sign up on the app use The League on a monthly basis.

Kansas City founding member Geoff Greene said he read about The League on Bloomberg News three years ago and applied right away, though the app had not yet launched in the Midwest.

Greene, 28, forgot he had applied for membership until this month, when he learned he had been accepted into the Kansas City class.

Traditional dating apps create a "paradox of choice," he said, and the sheer number of possibilities "degrade the overall experience" of dating. He said he appreciates the selectivity of The League.

"I truly enjoy intellectual conversation," said Greene, who is an associate risk and operations director for an investment firm. "Weeding out people who might not have the best job or the best college degree, who are more shallow in their ways, that was the main appeal for me.

"I'd rather talk about what someone thinks about the future of artificial intelligence than what the weather is outside."

Applying to The League involves syncing Linked In and Facebook information, submitting several high-resolution photos, and being approved by an algorithm that prioritizes referrals and education. Finally, applicants must meet the standards of The League's review team.

“Photos are a big one," Davis said. "No keg stands. No boob shots. No ex-boyfriend or girlfriend in your picture. It’s not about being hot. It’s about having a good photo.”

Once accepted into The League, users can specify certain preferences such as age, religion or ethnicity and are matched through the app’s algorithm as well as by a team.

Users must meet all of each other’s preferences and “heart” each other’s profiles to be able to match. They cannot match with those they are already connected to on Linked In and Facebook. New members are inducted into The League on a weekly basis so that the pool of matches slowly grows.

On top of that, The League members are connected with a "concierge," a go-to user (and actual human) who can answer questions, help with technical issues and offer tips to optimize profiles. League members also have access to parties and events hosted through the app.

Though Canfield joined The League to escape the fast-paced and overwhelming dating culture she found on Tinder and Bumble, she said the pace of the app has taken some getting used to.

Members of The League are sent only a few matches a day.

"There's no swipe, swipe, swipe," Canfield said. "You take your time. It's more of, 'Are you compatible?' Not just, 'Is this person attractive?'"

Canfield said she's matched with two men since she began using the app next week. Greene said he's had one match.

"It becomes less of an entertainment feature where you are just bored and just swiping more of an intentional process," Greene said. "You are more likely to read profiles. I think that's pretty important. You're not always looking for the better alternative."


Forget swipes, an exclusive 'League' of ambitious KC millennials use this dating app