Founder Story: RAW Dating App by Marina Anderson


Community and Lifestyle




Series A

Introducing RAW Dating App, a game-changer in online dating created by a female-led team, including the experienced brand marketer, Marina Anderson. They've launched a bold solution to combat the catfishing and dishonesty rampant in modern dating apps.

RAW's innovative approach requires all users to verify their identities and encourages authenticity by only allowing unedited selfies taken through the app. This straightforward strategy ensures real connections and has quickly captured the attention of young, creative New Yorkers.

Dive into our discussion with Marina to discover more about how RAW is redefining dating for the better.

Please Introduce Yourself and Tell Us About Your Startup?

Marina Anderson, RAW co-owner, has been working on a product side with such dating apps like Badoo and RAW. She is a brand marketing leader with over 10 years of diverse experience in brand development, marketing strategy, PR, media, content, and influencer marketing. RAW was launched last summer and has been the talk of the town among young and creative New Yorkers.

All because of how it overhauls online dating: there are no traditional profiles (tired, lame, snoozefest), only real-time unedited photos made with in-app front and back cameras posted daily (unconventional, mysterious, fun) taking which lets users into the swipe feed. RAW is the only dating app that requires a new photo every day to continue swiping.

The arrangement prompts focus on the visceral rather than filling out bios or answering prompts. The posting time varies daily, keeping the experience exciting and unpredictable. The app has from the jump resolved a rampant problem in online dating with its dual camera: scammers and сatfishers. It’s virtually impossible to sneakily use old photos or fake your identity here.

To prevent ghosting, RAW enforces a limit on the number of unanswered conversations a user has. When they reach the limit and want to message someone new, they'll need to go and text back in one of the old chats or uncrush someone first to not keep people in limbo.

Overview of RAW Dating App

RAW Dating App is transforming the online dating scene with its unique and honest approach. Founded by Marina Anderson, this app caters to those weary of the deception common in digital dating. RAW stands out by verifying all users and requiring daily, unedited selfies to maintain authenticity. This stringent process ensures that all members are genuinely represented, providing a more secure and truthful dating experience.

With its commitment to realness, RAW has quickly become a favorite among young New Yorkers seeking meaningful connections without the fear of catfishing or misleading profiles. Dive deeper as we discuss with Marina how RAW is rewriting the rules of online dating.

What Problem(s) Does Your Startup Solve?

The statistics surrounding online catfishing, scam, and abuse made our skin crawl. 30% of US adults have interacted with a catfish online, with the number at 52% for Gen Z. 65% of Gen Z are targeted by scams and hacking for the extortion of explicit personal imagery to be used for blackmail.

Dating apps are the venue for 38% of catfishing incidents. Female victims over 40 account for 79% of the $500M losses incurred from catfishing. An alarming number of women report assaults linked to online dating encounters. We understood that to make an impact with moving the needle on the quality and safety of dating, we needed practical solutions.

How Did Your Startup Gain Its Initial Momentum? Share Successful Strategies or Future Plans.

Most people are drawn to real-life authenticity, not polished performativity. But modern online dating is often plagued with mindless swiping, fake profiles and disastrous dates. We’re planning to change that by bringing IRL human connections back to dating. No catfishing, ghosting, or toxicity. Only pure real-life moments and up-to-date photos with no filters.

What Were the Biggest Hurdles in Gaining Traction, and How Did You Overcome Them?

Here are some takeaways:

  1. We began with a clear, ambitious target: to secure 200,000 monthly active users by the end of 2023. To achieve this, we went for a flexible and phased growth strategy: building a robust user base in one location, New York; scaling radially around; expanding to new locations.

  2. High-CPM campaigns could not be cost-effective for us so we focused on working with smaller opinion leaders, investing just south of $20k.

  3. Making a bet on college students as a target audience made total sense from the earliest days of our ideation for the app.

  4. We set up a landing page that redirects users to the app store pages and focuses on working with small UGC-style creators on the TikTok Creative Challenge and Fiverr platforms (over 500 creatives, anyone?).

  5. It’s a combination of all previous decisions that factored into our December 2023 ascent to charting at no. 1 in the UK and US (at the same time!)—as well as speeding past our 200K milestone and arriving at 300,000 monthly users.

From Your Perspective, What's Missing in the Current Startup Environment?

I can't speak for the entire startup environment, but in the online dating scene, it's always evolving. However, it feels like we're stuck dealing with the same old problems on most apps, and dating startups are no exception. What we're really after is a whole new online dating vibe—one that's all about having fun, being real, feeling safe, and making genuine connections. Let's face it, it's time for a change in the online dating landscape, and we're excited to be a part of it.

Can You Share Your Experience With Fundraising? What Was Your Approach?

Securing funding felt like a pipe dream, but Marina got it off one pitch! Her former boss agreed to invest in the project right away. Thanks to this, RAW was born.

What Hurdles Did You Encounter While Fundraising, and How Did You Tackle Them?

The hurdles are rejections. When you are fundraising, for sure you face those who will not even meet with you, or those who will agree to meet but will not even listen, and finally those who will listen but will reject investing. So, I try to be patient and take this experience as training before I meet the right person.

What’s Next for Your Startup? Any Exciting Developments on the Horizon?

In short, Ghosting: killed. Respect: is back. Women: protected. RAW: Dating app

In the busy world of online dating, apps constantly seek to capture users' attention and provide unique experiences that stand out in a saturated market. To achieve this, many have turned to cutting-edge technology features can range from AI-powered matching algorithms to real-time notifications that keep users hooked and active on the platform.

This week, RAW pop up with another novelty: its new Live Activity feature. From now on, RAW users get their randomly-timed live nudges to snap and share their unfiltered pics alll at the same time. Everyone has one minute to join the fray, a minute that could just change their love lives. It basically brings back flash mobs for dating—unpredictable and spontaneous, so definitely thrilling!

If You Could Go back and Give Yourself One Piece of Advice at the Start of Your Journey, What Would It Be?

Be agile and adapt quickly

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