Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Two Mines Computer Science Students Build New Dating App Based on Memes

The group of computer scientists behind the new dating app, Lafdr, that connects users based on their taste in memes. 

Morgan Vagts and Debbie Liknes find many current dating apps to be somewhat shallow and unengaging.

“Most dating apps can be frustrating because they put the focus on people’s appearance. When you connect with someone, you don’t know much about them other than their looks, which doesn’t make it easy to start a conversation,” says Vagts.

The South Dakota Mines graduates decided to use their degrees in computer science to change the game. They built a unique algorithm that connects users based on their taste in memes. Their new app, Lafdr, which launched Sept. 17, is revolutionary for connecting like-minded people, long before anyone gets a chance to “swipe right.”

“Millennials brought dating online; Gen-Z has brought memes into dating,” says Vagts.  More than 90% of current college students have used a dating app, Vagts adds, and there are more than one million memes shared on platforms like Instagram every day. “We think there is a real market for this app,” she says.

How users interact with the memes on Lafdr allows the unique algorithm, built by Liknes, to connect users with similar humor styles. “Memes are a great conversation starter,” says Vagts. “It keeps the conversation light and lets people be themselves."

Vagts says the app isn’t only for those who want to find a more authentic romantic connection. Users can choose to just find friends or to simply browse memes on the app. “People connect through memes. If you can laugh at a meme together, you know you have something in common,” says Vagts.

Liknes and Vagts came up with the idea for Lafdr while studying computer science at Mines. “We were just sitting in Debbie’s living room, talking about the perils of online dating, and she joked about the idea of a meme-based app. And I thought, yes. That’s brilliant, let’s do it, and it evolved from there,” says Vagts.

The pair of students spent the next two years developing the app. Lafdr went on to win fourth place at the South Dakota Governor’s Giant Vision student business plan competition. Since their graduation in May 2021, the business partners have been neck-deep in the project, “In total, there’s four of us. We eat, sleep, and breathe Lafdr. It’s been 12-hour days working on the app for a few months now to hit the deadline to launch this fall,” says Vagts.

“Kudos to these computer science students for using the skills they gained at Mines to build their own company. We’re always proud when students use their education to change the world. This is exactly the kind of innovation and entrepreneurship we encourage at Mines,” says Mines President Jim Rankin.

Vagts adds high praise for those at Mines who helped the business get to where it is today. “Mines helped pay for a provisional patent on our technology, and they gave us prototype money to help develop our app. They also gave us the resources to do well at the Governor’s Giant Vision Competition,” says Vagts.

According to Vagts, Lafdr’s next step is fundraising. The team is pitching their idea to a group of angel investors in October. “We know that only a small percentage of venture capital investments go toward female-lead businesses. We are hoping to break that trend with Lafdr,” says Vagts. 

Find the app on iOS here and on Android here



About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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