South Dakota Mines students create dating app

Lafdr, a meme-based dating app, launched on Sept. 17.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Looks can be deceiving, especially in the online dating scene. Two graduates from South Dakota Mines are switching the focus from looks to laughter to help form lasting connections.

Morgan Vagts (Class of 2022) and Debbie Liknes (Class of 2021) met each other in computer science courses. Like many college students, their friendship evolved through the years, but it eventually developed much further than most. Together, they created an app with hopes to revolutionize online dating.

The app allows users to upload memes and swipe right or left on memes in other profiles. This way, the algorithm connects people with common interests based on humor.

“Instead of swiping on people, you’re swiping on memes, which one, brings out personality more than looks, but also, it makes it a lot more casual, because dating apps can be pretty stressful,” says Vagts. “How do you send a first message to someone when you don’t know what you have in common at all?”

Although both women majored in computer science, Vagts focused on the business side of the app, while Liknes focused on programming. Liknes expressed just how much work went into the app, saying that it took “tens of thousands of lines of code to make it all happen.”

Vagts, Liknes, and friends look at Lafdr

Vagts, Liknes, and friends look at Lafdr

In addition to helping singles find love, Liknes and Vagts hope to inspire others to pursue technology jobs in South Dakota. “We really think that Lafdr is going to be big, and we want it to put Rapid City on the map as far as tech startups go,” says Vagts.

Computer science jobs can be hard to come by in the area, and businesses like Lafdr have the ability to spark interest in technology and bring tech business to the area. The pair hopes to bring innovate ideas to online dating, launching connections between young singles and establishing groundwork for tech startups in South Dakota.

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