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10 startups improving our relationships, friendships and social connections

Tech innovation is increasingly influencing our relationships – whether it be in finding that special someone, nurturing new friendships or even helping bring harmony back when things take a turn for the worse.

Tired of Tinder? There are so many more options available these days. What about an app that lets others help you do the matching with the help of social videos? Or an app that lets music taste match you to a partner? In the world of relationships, apps are also helping to break down barriers and taboos, putting importance on connections in this world that sometimes feels so fragmented and distanced.

So, here are 10 European startups helping us get more connected and lighting feel good sparks in our relationships:

Sparks: Already in a relationship but want to keep that spark alive? That’s what Barcelona-based Sparks is here to help with. Founder and CEO, Ankit Nayal, lived in five different countries, ranging from the far east, in China, to the far west, in the USA. While living in these countries, he noticed that there were plenty of apps to help him find a partner, but nothing substantial to help him improve his relationship. Very few apps existed that added value once the relationship actually began. Thus, in 2021, he built an app, doing just that. Sparks – The Relationships App was developed as a platform for the “experience decisions” in a relationship – movies, recipes, games, restaurants, bars, events, vacations and so on. The app is due to launch this autumn after picking up €40k during the summer.

Lapse: London-based startup Lapse has embarked on a venture to build the next generation of private social networking. It launched its app on an invite-only basis in September 2021 and has grown rapidly since, picking up €9.7 million the following December. Founded by two brothers, Ben and Dan Silvertown, Lapse lets friends in group chats take photos together, all of which are a mystery until they ‘develop’ the next day – bringing back the nostalgic film camera experience on a digital platform.In today’s society of insta likes, more and more (particularly young) people suffer from anxiety when sharing photos, triggered by superficial metrics and the pressures of public networks.  WIth Lapse, users can create private chat groups with friends, with each group having a “roll” of 36 shots – making sharing more about experience than likes.

Linkup: Aiming to revolutionize socializing in the digital era, using tech to promote social connection rather than detract from it, Manchester-based LinkUp is on a mission to tackle a growing loneliness crisis. Founded by Jack Peagam and Ben Whatson, Linkup encourages users to put down their phones, meet like-minded people around them and focus on today, in the moment that counts. It’s a platform that enables any kind of meeting in-person, for any kind of person – forge friendships, discover fellow hobbyists or just go for a drink with someone nearby. The app will launch later this year after picking up attention from a variety of early investors this summer, resulting in a €530k raise in July. Renowned music duo Krept & Konen are among the investors, along with Callum Airey (Calfreezy on YouTube). 

Tastebuds: With music lovers in mind, founders Alex Parish and Julian Keenaghan, built an app connecting people based on musical interests. The social discovery platform also lets you exchange songs with each other. Bonding over your mutual love of pop, rock or metal concerts might just be the spark that ignites a lifelong connection. Music fans who want a partner to go to shows with will also enjoy this app – it’s about building relationships platonically or otherwise. From London, Tastebuds has received about €600K in pre-seed funding and is integrated with music streaming service Last.fm. 

F3: Riga-based F3, a social app for Generation-Z is aiming to help this younger generation communicate openly and honestly. Via the app, users can send each other photos, videos and questions and then reply to them in a customized, media-rich format. Since its launch in 2018, F3 has attracted over 25 million users, with tens of thousands of new members joining the community every day. F3 enables visually appealing and entertaining communication, while anonymity encourages more honest, in-depth, and personal contact. In 2020 the team scored €3.2 million.

Freeq: Founded by in 2020, freeq is a safe tech platform serving the LGBTQ+ communities. Aiming to empower the community to enjoy a life of liberation, the platform hosts virtual events that give the chance to meet people and make connections. It was launched in the early days of the pandemic to offer LGBTQ+, sex-positive, and body-positive people a safe, fun, online events space to connect with each other – tackling the social isolation many people felt during this time.

The Sauce: Having received €1.7 million in funding, the Sauce adds a little extra spice to your dating experience. It’s a dating application designed to change the conventional dating idea into a fun approach, bringing personality to online dating through video content. Via the app, users can date via video, create short videos and chat and comment on each other’s profiles. This app was founded in 2020 and is VC backed. “Sauce users can expect Instagram stories, reels, the odd TikTok and playful videos usually filmed by someones mate thrown into the mix, allowing members to get to know their match before theyve even sent their first like,” says co-founder Sachin Karia.

HER: HER is the top dating app connecting all women, non-binary, trans and gender non-conforming folk. Despite the name, HER isn’t exclusively for females – it’s open to cisgender and non-binary people too. It’s about creating a safe space for people to connect and form relationships, whether that be a travel buddy, a friend in a city or a future soulmate. The app also hosts events, news platforms and group chats. It has offices in London and has raised €2 million to date. HER has 14 investors including Y Combinator and Dreamcraft Ventures.

Feeld: Feeld is catering to both couples and singles, enabling people to explore dating together – whether they’re looking to experiment a little or are polyamorous. It was created by Dimo and Ana after they had been together for two years and found themselves curious about opening up the relationship a little. The London-based app launched in 2014 and is today on a mission to open up the future of human connection through normalising sexual desire, catering to over 20 different sexuality and gender identity options. The team has received over €500K in funding and reports that over 30 million messages are sent on the app every month.

By the way: If you’re a corporate or investor looking for exciting startups in a specific market for a potential investment or acquisition, check out our Startup Sourcing Service!

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Alexandra Amsberg
Alexandra Amsberg
Alexandra is an entrepreneur who founded her own startup a few years ago. Her background is in consulting and architecture. She worked for big corporates and starting pioneers. After a postdoc for founders at IE Business School she decided she wanted to work in media as an entrepreneur and writer.

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