SALEM, Ohio — Some people meet their soulmate through mutual friends, at work or in school. For others, the search is more intentional.
Twenty-three-year-old Derek Ma was looking for love as a country person living in a big city and was not satisfied with any of the apps he tried that were targeted for country singles. So he created FarmersMatch, his own dating app for farmers and country singles.
Ma grew up on an organic farm but now works in a city. He said he wanted to meet a “girl who can understand the country lifestyle,” but being in a city made it difficult.
Ma said dating can also be difficult for farmers living in a rural area since many of these communities are small and many of the people in these communities already know each other.
He figured farmers and other people interested in a rural lifestyle were having similar issues to the ones he has encountered while trying to meet people. This is what led him to create the app.
Ma said his friends who did not have an agricultural background thought the idea was interesting when he brought it up, but pointed out that it was a small niche.
“They just worried about the future of my startup,” Ma said.
Those who had a background in ag, however, saw the potential in the idea Ma presented.
“They understand how difficult it would be for country singles to meet new people,” Ma explained.
So in May 2016, five months after he discovered the need, Ma launched FarmersMatch on the Apple Store. In March 2017, he also released an Android version of the app. It is currently available only in the Android version.
An 18-year-old FarmersMatch user who goes by the user name ‘Mattea’ on the app said she felt she had better connections with people on FarmersMatch as opposed to other dating sites.
“I definitely have more in common with people on this app versus others,” she said after a month of using the app.
Mattea grew up with horses in California and has been involved with rodeo for five years. She calls herself “country and rodeo through and through,” and said this is what led her to start using FarmersMatch.
While meeting people in person has been difficult because of the traveling she does, Mattea has talked to over a dozen people via the app.
“I had connections relatively quickly,” Mattea said. “Unfortunately, everyone I’ve connected with lives in a different state.”
Still, Mattea hopes with time she will “find someone who will support my lifestyle and enjoy it himself.”
Ma thinks there are farmers out there who could benefit from using the app, but who do not know it exists. He said the next step for FarmersMatch is to work on running more ads for the app and hiring a PR firm to help build brand awareness.
Some of the top cities for FarmersMatch users include New York and Los Angeles, which may seem strange for a dating app that focuses on rural living.
But Ma explained while some of these users are actually from more rural areas around these cities, there are also some users who live in cities and are interested in meeting country singles. He said some users grew up on farms and want to meet other people with similar values, while others grew up in urban areas but are interested in meeting farmers or getting involved with farming.
Because many farmers have difficulty meeting people because they have limited time, Ma hopes the app will let country singles meet potential matches anywhere and at any time, since all it requires is a phone and internet access.
The app also has a 51-49 female to male ratio, implying there is a match for nearly every person, at least based on the numbers.
Ma also said the app attracts people looking for real relationships.
“People on our app are less interested in casual stuff,” Ma said.
The world of online dating provides many choices, starting with which app or site to use. Ma wants to make sure farmers have good options that will give them a better chance of meeting the perfect match.
“I think it’s very necessary to create a good app for farmers and country singles,” Ma said. “When country singles go on big dating apps, they all too often encounter people who don’t understand or appreciate their down-to-earth or traditional values and country lifestyle.”
Yet, people who do understand are out there, and Ma hopes FarmersMatch will allow some of them to find each other.