By Kiersten Tomson
Steve Anderson is an avid sports fan, loves going to the movies, and has a passion for animals and his family.
This single, 33 year old guy from Chicago sounds like a catch, but it’s not always easy to find love and friendship.
“He got sick when he was younger and it left him with some mental impairment and learning disabilities,” explains his brother, Geoff Anderson. “He just has some difficulty grasping onto things as fast as others might.”
But that doesn’t mean Steve can’t grasp the concept of love or companionship, which is what led his younger brother Geoff to launch the free dating app, Glimmer.
“Glimmer is taking the current wave of social dating technology and revolutionizing it for the disabled community,” says Geoff. “While there are a lot of apps out there that try to bank on exclusiveness, we are entirely inclusive.”
Geoff has a sociology degree, an MBA in marketing and work experience with his family’s nonprofit, Options for College Success, which arms college students with disabilities, the tools they need to be successful.
“But the one problem that consistently stuck out was the lack of social outlets or hearing ‘I want a girlfriend or I want a boyfriend,’” recalls Geoff. “It can be a lot more difficult for someone who faces different challenges to develop the confidence and know how to go after those sort of things.”
Geoff admits he is self-taught when it comes to programming and had development help to launch the Glimmer app earlier this year.
But the app itself is simple.
You need a Facebook account to sign in, which Geoff says, helps with safety and transparency.
The app then pulls your Facebook information into your Glimmer profile including pictures, hobbies, interest, work status, location, etc.
It’s all customizable so you can add specific photos, your favorite band, or your disability.
From there, you can scroll through the profiles, you can even search to see who shares the same disability, and just click to connect.
The other person is notified they are a match and communication can begin.
“The app itself functions like a lot of other apps, except for the fact that it takes the fear of declaring or being open about having a disability,” says Geoff. “Instead, it really promotes transparency and love and acceptance.”
Thousands of people have downloaded the Glimmer app and while Chicago has the biggest concentration of users, people have signed up as far away as Italy, India, Russia, Canada and Brazil.
“People are finding it and it is something they are really embracing,” adds Geoff. “So I think there might be something interesting in opening up the walls and allowing people to search their immediate area or just a random search so they could connect with somebody else who may share the same problem, in let’s say, Australia.”
A lot of new changes are already in the works for Glimmer. Geoff is hoping to secure additional funding in the next six months to further ensure the app’s security and accessibility to all.
He is also considering some in-app features for purchase which would include boosting someone’s profile or inviting people to icebreaker games to help spur conversations.
“My hope is that we can build a strong community with this,” says Geoff. “People can hop on and find someone else that they can identify with and that can help them face their challenges and know they are not alone.”
And as for Geoff’s brother Steve, the #1 supporter of the Glimmer app, he’s interested in several people and is in the process of setting up a date!
“It’s reaffirmed my perception of the world that people are actually decent and want others to be happy.”