Have you heard of this hot new dating app Mutual? It’s like Tinder for Mormons. At least that was what I thought until I spoke with founder Cooper Boice. Now it’s only mostly what I think.
RB: Let’s get through the basic stuff. Where are you from, etc.?
CB: I grew up in Carlsbad, California, served a mission in Argentina and then graduated from BYU with a degree in…finance. (We both laugh at this. He said it with such disappointment.) I moved to Arizona after graduation with no idea what I would do. I just felt like I should be there, and after a stint teaching escape & evasion classes for a startup that was featured on the show Shark Tank, I met the people who eventually became the Mutual team.
RB: Can you describe Mutual in a sentence?
CB: I would say it’s the fastest growing, most popular LDS dating app.
RB: So it’s not Tinder for Mormons?
CB: Haha. Oh man. I mean, the concept is the same, but I think the difference is the people that use it. The reason people go to a church school isn’t necessarily for the superior classes offered there, it’s for the people, right? The community is what makes it what it is.
RB: Do you enforce that people who use the app be LDS?
CB: We discussed this a lot, and in the end decided Mutual should be a chapel, not a temple — visitors are welcome. We review all of the profiles to try to keep out fake accounts or people who shouldn’t be on there, but we won’t stop someone who isn’t a member of the Mormon church. That said, I think it’s pretty obvious to people signing up that this is an LDS dating app, so it’s never been an issue.
RB: Can you explain the name for anyone not indoctrinated in Mormon culture?
CB: Sure — Mutual is a co-ed church activity you go to weekly when you’re a teenager. For me it was always super awkward, I didn’t know how to talk to girls. We try to add the name throughout the app too, i.e. mutual friends, mutual interests.
RB: It’s really the perfect name. So what motivated you to create the app?
CB: When I moved away from Provo, dating became more difficult. There’s a really great YSA population in Arizona, but it’s just different. Tinder had become the big new thing towards the end of my time in Provo, and I thought it was really fun, but in Arizona it wasn’t really an option if you wanted to date people who were LDS.
RB: Oh, Tinder has to be a whole different thing in Provo. I used it in LA for a week, and the first thing any guy said was, “Let’s get coffee or a drink!” You have to out yourself immediately and it sort of stops before it can even start.
CB: Totally. It was hard to meet people who shared my beliefs that weren’t necessarily in my ward. Talking to friends, everybody loved the concept of Tinder but hated that it was assumed to be for hookups. So I thought, why don’t we take the same concept and make it for LDS singles?
RB: Very smart. Except what about how superficial it is? Sorry, I’m struggling here.
CB: I mean, in the end, I think dating apps are just a tool that can enhance the dating experience. Mutual is a tool, we just don’t want it to be a tool for tools.
CB: Seriously though, I think it mirrors real life pretty well, it’s just a quicker version of it. If you’re at a party, you’re gonna make an initial impression of everyone you meet. Either there’s some interest or there’s not, and maybe that initial attraction isn’t the most important thing, but it’s a factor whether you meet someone in real life or on a dating app. It all depends on the person and their priority.
Another big factor for a lot of people, especially young working professionals, is that people are just super busy. Whether in college, right after college, or just starting a career, we all know finding someone to marry is really important, but at the same time you can’t spend all your time and energy on dating.
RB: Okay that’s interesting – I definitely took my time at BYU and ended up taking 5 years to graduate because I was like ‘but I have to get married!! If I don’t do it here, where will it happen??’ That’s a very real fear, and a frustrating thing to feel you have to make a potential sacrifice in your career so you can live near other YSA’s.
CB: I had a similar experience. I did the ROTC program at BYU and originally I wanted to be full time in the Army, but I kind of realized if I was living on some Army base who knows where, would there be other LDS people to date? I ended up doing the Army National Guard because you could live anywhere. It totally had a sway in my decision with what to do and where to live.
RB: Mormon problems. So lest we start sounding like we think people who aren’t LDS have cooties, let me ask — why is it important to you to date someone of your same faith?
CB: Haha I definitely don’t think people who aren’t Mormon have cooties — I went on a few dates with a girl here in Arizona who wasn’t LDS. She was super cool but wasn’t interested in the church and I guess yeah, for me that was kind of a deal breaker.
I don’t know that my answer would be super unique or profound, it’s just that I really wanted to marry someone in the temple because I believe in the principal of eternal marriage. I also think it makes it a lot easier in terms of dating someone with the same goals and priorities.
What would your answer be?
RB: Technically you’re breaking the rules of the interview. But hmm let’s think. Growing up in the church I sort of thought non-temple marriages were doomed. I don’t think that anymore, I’m more inclined to think God will sort it out. But I agree with you in terms of having similar lifestyles and goals, and I definitely agree about the temple. There is a lot I don’t understand about it, but my sealing was one of the most spiritual experiences I’ve had. Which reminds me — you said you are engaged, yes?
CB: Yes, as of last week.
RB: Whoah congrats! Did you meet her on Mutual?
CB: I didn’t. It really would have been a great story, though! We actually met through a ‘mutual’ friend shortly before Mutual launched.
RB: It really would have. Have there been other success stories?
CB: Yeah, I think that’s the craziest part. Maybe because it’s a Mormon dating app, we started having engagements and marriages much earlier than we expected. To my knowledge there have been a few dozen engagements and marriages up to this point.
I actually just found out about two more engagements last night. It’s a really cool, kind of surreal thing — a month ago a buddy called me and said, “I got engaged to a girl I met through your app – thanks for making it!” It’s crazy and an awesome feeling that me getting together with some tech friends is actually changing people’s lives.
I heard a saying that in Jewish tradition, if you successfully match three couples you have a ticket to heaven. So maybe I’m good?
RB: Absolutely. I feel like I have to ask — would you say you were inspired to make this app?
CB: (Cooper got a bit squeamish here) I mean… it was 100% inspiration that I moved to Arizona. I really had no other reason to move there, and some really great things have happened since following that inspiration – one of which is meeting my fiancé. And of course, meeting the people who helped make Mutual. I wouldn’t have met them otherwise. So I would say moving here was absolutely inspiration, and as a result of that, some amazing things have happened, including Mutual.
RB: God works in mysterious ways. What’s the end goal for Mutual?
CB: We want to keep growing of course — we have a ton of users at this point and haven’t expanded to Android yet. The eventual goal is to build a premium model — so everything that’s free now will remain free, but people will be able to pay for more premium features.
Really though, our main goal is to affect as many people as possible in a positive way. We want Mutual to be something really positive, not like Tinder where people download it and hide it on the last page of their phone.
RB: A worthy goal. Any other fun tidbits we should know?
CB: Actually, one of our app developers made an interesting point recently that it’s kind of a unique position we’re in where because we review every single profile on our app, we have a really unique perspective on the LDS single population within the church, especially YSA’s.
RB: Hmm that is interesting. And what’s your take?
CB: I feel like that annoying friend, I just want them all to meet someone equally awesome! There are some really impressive people out there.
RB: I tend to agree. Well, best of luck with the app.
CB: Thanks! Keep an eye out for us on Android soon.
Are you a super-impressive YSA looking to find people to date? Try Mutual! We didn’t get paid to say this!
*This interview has been edited and condensed.