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Penn State York Student Creates All-Inclusive Dating App For Bisexual Individuals

Sometimes, taking a leap of faith can change lives.

Penn State York student Mary Richardson took that leap of faith to create Bindr, a dating app that provides a safe online platform for bisexual individuals. Now, after the launch of her app, thousands of people from around the country are thanking her for creating a space they desperately needed.

Richardson, who is from the State College area, grew up a lifelong Penn State fan. It was her dream to attend Penn State, and she finally got the chance when she applied to Penn State York. Currently, Richardson is a third-year student majoring in business with a concentration in marketing and communications, while also pursuing a minor in computer science.

The idea to create Bindr came to Richardson after her experiences using other dating apps turned negative. With other bisexual dating apps, such as Bicupid, you have to pay $30 to chat with people. Other less popular apps are often “sketchy hookup apps that don’t feel safe,” according to Richardson.

Tinder even placed a ban on her account three times without giving Richardson a clear reason why. She believes it had something to do with her setting her preferences on the app to both men and women.

“I felt discriminated against. I couldn’t just be myself and meet people without getting shut down,” Richardson said.

Richardson was so fed up with the platform that she decided to create an app herself, one where no one would feel bad about being who they are. She partnered with her close friend and digital specialist Brandon Teller, and the two got to work.

Teller, founder and CEO of software development company Original Pixel in York, was no stranger to designing apps. With his technology background and Richardson’s vision, the pair built their app from the ground up.

“Brandon had a few weeks off work and I was out of school for the summer so we just put our hard work into it and built the app in a few weeks,” she said.

Bindr officially launched nationally in August 2022. Since then, Richardson released two redesigns of the app with over 60 updates. Currently, the app has around 11,000 users.

“Our goal is to get people to stop thinking that being bisexual is a phase between going from gay to straight or straight to gay. People still aren’t accepting and will say that you have to pick a side,” Richardson explained. “Even in the gay community, people are icked by bisexuals. They think, ‘If you’re not on the gay side, you’re not on our team,’ which is stupid. It’s ridiculous that the thought is so prevalent.”

Bindr has been steadily gaining popularity since its release. Since there are so few bisexual dating apps, it stands out against the rest, often leading search results in the App Store. But the popularity doesn’t come without its challenges. Richardson described how the prejudice against bisexual individuals is still a roadblock in terms of partnering with organizations.

“The biggest challenge we face is discrimination and trying to get funding from companies. Penn State has been awesome and inclusive, but trying to get into funding opportunities and programs is hard because people still aren’t one hundred percent open to LGBTQ+ communities,” Richardson explained.

Courtesy of Mary Richardson

Richardson and Teller quickly realized that running a startup wasn’t going to be easy. Since Richardson is a full-time student and Teller runs his own business, the pair are working between 65 and 70 hours a week.

“If you look in my planner, it’s just back-to-back meetings every day,” she said.

However, Richardson’s hard work was rewarded when she won the Invent Penn State Inc.U Competition at Penn State Startup Week. Bindr took home the first-place title and a $15,000 prize.

Courtesy of Mary Richardson

“It was surreal. It was so rewarding,” Richardson said.

“When they announced me I was stunned. It was so rewarding because I worked for so long on the pitch. I think what really won it for us was the numbers and how much hard work we’re putting in,” she continued.

Richardson said the prize money primarily will be used as funding for advertising and marketing.

“I think what sets us apart is that this is something we’re passionate about and it’s a good cause. We really want Bindr to be an all-inclusive, safe community for people to meet each other and make connections without judgment and without worry of being judged,” Richardson said.

Now that the app is growing, people in the LGBTQ+ community have been recognizing Richardson for her hard work. One of her next big plans for the app is to create a resources tab with information to help those who are struggling with their mental health and accepting themselves. In the long run, Richardson wants to use Bindr’s funds to put an end to conversion therapy camps.

As for the future, Richardson wants Bindr to be the top app for bisexual individuals.

“We want it to be Tinder for straight people, Grindr for gay people, and Bindr for bisexuals,” Richardson said. “One single app can change public perception, just like Grindr did for the gay community — it makes people more accepting. That’s what we want to do with bisexuals.”

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About the Author

Ava Brendgord

Ava is a senior from Houston, TX majoring in broadcast journalism. She loves coffee and bagels, traveling, and keeping a healthy balance between watching the news and reality television. Follow her at @avabrendgord on Instagram or email her at [email protected].

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