Oh, Baby

Want a Family? This Dating App Is Helping Houstonians Find One 

heybaby forgoes hookup culture with its mission of creating families. 

By Brittany Cristiano December 25, 2020

It all began with Chas McFeely and his attempt to find a wife. In 2011 he created a dating website solely for himself to search for a woman to date, eventually marry, and start a family with, offering up $10,000 to the person who set them up. The site became a nationwide phenomenon, giving him news coverage, and, of course, thousands of women applying to his website. 

After, McFeely and friends Diko Daghlian and Rene van de Zande came together and took a look at his success (although, he didn’t actually find a wife from the site). The trio, all fathers, realized there was nothing in the dating app market that had the mission of creating families, and saw an opportunity to create a dating app with that as the sole focus. And this past summer, heybaby was born. 

On the heybaby dating app, wanting children or having children isn’t just a box you check like on Tinder or Bumble; it’s the essence of the whole app. It also isn’t just a “hookup app," unless you eventually want to have a baby from that hookup. The app is dedicated to single parents, or singles searching for a partner to, one day, start a family with, says Daghlian.

“Fifty percent of people on dating apps now say they want kids or either have kids,” he tells Houstonia. “It just wasn’t addressed. The real goal [of heybaby] was to just make it easier for people who were over the hookup culture … it’s just a place for people on the same page [about families] to go to.”

Daghlian feels that a family-focused app like heybaby is very important to people, especially right now during the pandemic. “Now, during Covid time, everyone is reassessing what family means, and everyone is flocking back to family; you have adult kids going back home, and people spending time with family more,” he says.

Apart from being just a dating app, Daghlian says they also want heybaby to be a resource for parenting advice. “We want to represent the parenting community, and guide them through everything from IVF to raising your kids to college help,” Daghlian says.

So let’s go through how the app works. Daghlian says it works differently than Tinder, as in you can’t just swipe left on a hundred people (yes, we’re all guilty of it). “We tried to make it more thoughtful; even once you ‘like’ someone it’s not just a quick ‘throw away’, [the like] has a more intentional interaction with the app,” Daghlian says.

For instance, the app has something called a “heybaby score.” After you join, the app asks you all the essential questions and beyond; there are 100 questions to answer, ranging from serious to silly—a feature Daghlian notes as being pretty popular. Whenever you come across someone’s profile, you will see a score, which represents how many of those questions you answered in common with the person.

Headquartered in Austin, heybaby launched last July in the U.S. Daghlian says they’ve put a heavy focus on getting things going in Houston. There haven’t been any families formed just yet—Covid-19 put a damper on dating, or, you know, the fact that it takes nine months to have a baby and the app only began in July—but thousands of people have already signed up and started using the app, says Daghlian. 

“It’s something that unites all of us,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, white, gay, or straight; family is family.”

And heybaby is helping you create one.

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