This CEO Is Making A Business Based On Women's Gossip
With sites like Cars.com on the web, you can check out and rate your newest ride before you even make the purchase. The same goes for the restaurants you eat at with your friends, the hotels where you stay during vacations and the movie you're about to go see while on a date, so why not the person you'll be on that date with?
That might as well have been the thinking behind Lulu, the creation of London-based founder Alexandra Chong that acts as a "girls only space," allowing users to log in through Facebook and rate the men they are thinking about entertaining or have already entertained with a standard one-to-ten scale (complete with decimal places) and a slew of other add-ons made to give women the complete try-before-you-buy experience.
In a July 12 feature for ABC's "Good Morning America," the Lulu app was said to have reached over one million followers since its February launch. And, as the Huffington Post points out, Chong knows that it's the curiosity of single women that is the key to her app's success.
"If you meet a guy at a party and hit it off, admit it: you’re going to Facebook and Google him when you get home," a FAQ post on Lulu's site reads. "Lulu is the place to do your research. Except we’re not going to bore you with whether he’s registered to vote. No way. Lulu tells you the stuff you want to know: is he a heartbreaker or your future husband?"
Lulu may strike some as having too much of a "judging a book by its cover" feel to it, but the app very much allows woman to delve deep into the personality of a man, or at the least the perception of it.
Users can find out who's cheap, who's boring, and who's obsessive over certain things just as easily as they can find out who's hot in a way that that fuels the eagerness of women looking to find mister right without having to sift through the wrongs, with hashtags like "#textstoomuch" and "#disappears" to help them along the way.
"My vision has always been to create a discreet, private space for girls to talk about the most important issues in their lives: their relationships," Chong is quoted as saying by Mashable. "We provide the essential intelligence about the guy who is both #SweetToMom and #BelievesInLove and yet may also be #RudeToWaiters and #CrazyJealous. This is the stuff you need to know when you're checking out a guy in Econ 101, at a party or even on a dating site. Lulu puts the girls in control."
But not every woman is feeling the buzz. One writer in particular, Buzzfeed's Katie Heaney, has taken up several issues with the app.
"Maybe it’s telling partial truths, or what it thinks are partial truths, given what we humans know we often like in other humans," Heaney said in article back in February. "It’s not that wanting these things in a romantic partner is unreasonable, necessarily: It’s that seeing the qualities laid bare in hashtag form feels reductive (quite literally) and uncomfortably game-y. It feels like Magic: The Gathering [the once popular card game] but with boys. But worse."
People can dispute whether the app encourages constructive conversation or not, but one thing that's undeniable is that Lulu is experiencing the type of growth, from 75,000 downloads in February to over a million members in July, that suggests it could become many women's guilty pleasure for the summer. And with more users, there will only be more opportunity for Alexandra Chong to profit.
Photo via LuLu