Even in the modern world of online dating and swiping left and right, Mendota Heights-born Miriam Younger had been a successful matchmaker, but she learned there was a group of people who had often been left behind: people with special needs.
“I think dating is broken,” she said. “Apps are based on this photograph, this two-dimensional image. I’ve seen that plenty where people doctored up their images, and they’re not accurate. And then people are just swiping. A person can swipe through 30 or 40 images in a minute without getting to know anybody.”
That is why Younger created uplatypus, an app that is launching this spring that is designed, in part, for people with differences or challenges whose needs aren’t met through “traditional” dating platforms.
Uplatypus isn’t strictly for dating: Younger designed the app as a way for people to make any sort of connection that can help reduce isolation and loneliness in their lives.
“The main premise is creating meaningful connections,” she said. “It can be just friendship, or it could be more depending on the person. But the friendship piece has been incredibly important. I think during COVID, a lot of people really see how critical that can be, and it’s really tough to meet people, particularly the way things are right now.”
Younger now lives in Cincinnati working as a matchmaker both with clients that contact her directly, and a volunteer for Saw You At Sinai, a Jewish matchmaking website — although uplatypus will be available for anyone to use regardless of religion.
In developing this new platform, Younger and the uplatypus team consulted with professionals and community members, knowing that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to providing support for people with challenges. The app is not appropriate for everyone, and all users must be 18 years of age and be able to legally consent to the app’s terms and conditions.
One of the unique and innovative features of uplatypus is the user’s ability, should they choose, to grant limited access to a parent or advocate, allowing them to advise and seek counsel from people who know them best.
“I want to create extra tools for people to succeed within the app,” she said. “I think having the [biography] first with a picture later is going to be incredibly helpful. And I think having the advocate or parent piece, for many, is going to be a big deal.”
The plan is for uplatypus to create a community of parents and advocates who can communicate together and help each other and the users they support.
“Socializing today is complex for everybody,” says Younger. “People struggle to break barriers when meeting new people and having extra support tools can help people progress in the social atmosphere of this new app.”
Younger is hoping the app will launch at the end of March, and the team is signing up members to be part of the beta testing that is standard with most apps.
“Matchmaking is really so rewarding,” she said. “I think these techniques and the way the app is designed, can do an amazing job in a unique way that nobody’s doing right now. And so I’m excited about it.”
To sign-up and pre-register please send an email to [email protected].