There’s a global beard shortage. No, actually.

I ran the numbers; there are a lot more people who want to date someone with a beard, than there are people with beards. And this is a global problem.

For every person with a good beard, here’s the ratio of people wanting to stroke them:

Amsterdam 3.64
London 2.36
Manchester 2.24
New York 2.08
Los Angeles 2.04
Sao Paulo 2.02
Paris 1.98
Austin 1.66

Meaning, for every 10 people with beards in Amsterdam, there are 36 wanting a bearded partner.

If ever there was a time to start going a beard, I would say it’s now.

The only place we found there isn’t a shortage is in South Asia.

One of the fun parts to my job at Bristlr is that I get to learn things that are impossible for anyone else to learn. Most of that is also totally useless, but sometimes I find something that’s just super interesting.

When it comes to dating sites, you normally assume it’s going to be filled with a significant majority of guys. In Tinder’s case, for example, it’s basically a two to one ratio of men to women. But an interesting thing happens on Bristlr; because we reduce the number of guys able to use our service, we see an almost 50/50 split of those with beards and those who want to stroke beards (we don’t track gender), with a slight majority wanting a beard.

If you limit the beard-havers to only those with a “good” beard (rated 2/5 or above by the community, i.e. an actual beard), the number of available beards for stroking halves. This is the case in pretty much every major territory and city where Bristlr exists.

I don’t doubt the “peak beard” study from last year which told us that in 2014 beards were seen as the most appealing they’ve been for generations. But if anyone suggests this means we’re going to see a decline in beard popularity any time soon, I have the data to tell them they’re wrong.

If you’d like to see the stats on a city or region I’ve not mentioned above, just leave a comment or drop Bristlr a tweet.

We’re not adding gender options until we can do it right

When it comes to sexuality and gender, dating sites are pretty shit at anything beyond a simple binary. They get halfway through “LGBT” and just sort of give up.

OKCupid only started adding more realistic gender options late last year. Tinder and Happn are purely binary (with the former apparently banning trans users). Even trendy new start-ups who have their gender options praised in the press, in reality fail pretty miserably at delivery.

Bristlr doesn’t have gender options.

When we made the first prototype of Bristlr we knew we needed some kind of filtering (ideally a binary system for ease of development). So why pick gender with its infinite complexity, when we can just filter on beard or no-beard?

I’m pretty sure this makes Bristlr the largest dating site ever, without gender.

The great

We’re, like, super inclusive. If you’re into beards, we’re into you, and our doors are wide open. Lady looking for a gentleman-Viking for winter? Bearded dame rocking a kick-ass beard wanting to chat to new people? Asexual cutie with an addiction to rating beards? We love everyone. Hello!

The less-great

Bristlr’s doors may work for everyone. But without gender-based filtering, once you’re in the building you can have a less-than-ideal time finding people if you have specific preferences. It’s a common assumption that Bristlr is for guys with beards and women who want to meet them. And whilst this is the case for the majority of Bristlr’s users, it’s not the whole story.

To take gay guys as an example: We do get great feedback from guys using Bristlr to find other guys, but we do also get a lot of feedback which can be generalised to “I only want to see guys into guys”. You can filter by keyword, but this only works if you assume every gay guy has “gay” somewhere in their profile. It’s not great.

The plan

We’re going to add gender and sexuality options to Bristlr in order to support our LGBTQ+ users. But we’re not going to rush it.

Our current plan is to add an optional gender field to profiles: A text box allowing multiple, comma-separated words of your choosing (or invention). Then a second field where you write the genders you’re interested in. We then filter and match using a list of synonyms, plus existing filters like location, age, beard/no-beard etc.

The synonym list will be public, and community reviewed.

We want to help drive a better industry standard for this kind of stuff, and we know we’ve got a lot of work ahead. We’re a tiny team currently going through the Ignite start-up accelerator, so we’re being metaphorically scrunched up and fired out of a Business Cannon (like a human cannon, but with more spreadsheets). It may take us a little while, but this is going to happen.

If you have any thoughts, questions, concerns, or funny cat pictures, please do leave a comment or find me on Twitter.

Photo credit: Sexuality flag heart patches from Nerdloft on StoreEnvy


John Kershaw is Bristlr’s founder and CEO.

Don’t let those beards deceive you; filtering by age

Filtering by age and distanceIt’s been the most requested feature for a few months, and it’s now ready for everyone to use; filtering by age.

The update also brings with it a slider for distance filtering, to let you be even more specific about har far you’d be willing to go for a fondle. Geographically speaking.

Bristlr gives you the option to set a lower limit and an upper limit, from 18 to 60+, then shows you only those who match your filter.

If anyone doesn’t have an age on their account (if they signed up before your date of birth was required at signup and haven’t updated their profile) they won’t appear in any results.

New faces, every day

How to find your daily matches

We’ve released a new experimental feature we’re calling “daily matches”.

Every day we’ll find 4 new people who you may not have seen. Maybe they’re new, or perhaps just outside your filters.

We’ll find four new people every 24 hours for you, and you’ll never see the same people in there twice.

We’re going to be improving our algorithm as time goes on and as we learn what works and what doesn’t. Our goal is for all four of the people we have in your daily matches be because you’ll click the heart under. We’ve got all kinds of fancy monitoring ready to go.

Don’t want to see them any more? The hide button has arrived!

Profiles can now be hidden

Good news for anyone who has some folks on their Bristlr list who they just don’t fancy; we’ve added a hide button.

All profiles now have the heart, and a hide button. Clicking once will hide the account for 31 days with the option to hide them forever with another tap. If you’ve hidden someone by mistake, or regret your decision, you can un-hide people in your settings page.

Introducing Bristlr’s copy-paste detector

An example of the copy-paste detector

On dating sites and apps some people (let’s be honest, usually guys) send the same opening line to literally hundreds of people. Sometimes they think up these ice-breakers by themselves, other times they get them from cheat-sheet “guides”. There are even fairly large communities of people out there crowd sourcing these messages. When they find one that seems to work, they run with it.

It’s a shot-gun approach to online dating which makes total sense from a numbers perspective. It’s like the folks who buy special apps and use special websites so they can swipe right as fast as possible on Tinder; it’s all about the numbers. They can decide if they actually want to meet up with the other people later.

Personally, I think it’s fine to do this. But, only if you’re open about what you’re up to. Otherwise, it’s kinda sleazy.  There’s some false assumptions going on.

Hence, Bristlr’s new feature: If you send the same message to multiple people, the message gets sent, and they’re told they aren’t the only person you sent the message to.

This forms part of our general approach to user protection; don’t be afraid to surface information about people’s potential dates. We run a website and app which lets strangers meet up who only know each other through the internet. It’s kind of up to us to make sure we all have as much information as we need to make smart decisions.

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Update: So we’ve had two types of feedback on this feature. The vast majority has been super positive messages from people really happy to know what’s going on. And then there’s been a small minority of sometimes angry dudes (and it’s been 100% dudes) who feel hard done by because their methods aren’t as effective as before.

Bristlr gets a promo video

After a day of filming and a night of editing, our first promo video is here to show off Bristlr, and our beards. The video was filmed in a few of my favourite Manchester places: The Whiskey Jar, Takk, and The Gas Lamp.

Thanks to Rhys, Charlotte, and all my friends (who were bribed with free drinks) for featuring in the shoot. And of course thanks to Resolution Visuals for actually filming and editing everything.

Bristlr (39 of 54)