With the national discussion surrounding dating norms and expectations, there needs to be a place for women to freely discuss the complexities of modern relationships – especially relationships that are fueled by online dating. Bolde is a safe place where women can discuss challenges when it comes to dating and being single. The media company founded in 2015 has also just launched a female-centric dating app called Lola. The platform features the authentic voices of women that traverses modern dating. Whether you have chosen the single life or still looking for a partner, Bolde is the place to freely discuss, explore, and share your thoughts on real modern romance.
AlleyWatch chatted with founder and CEO Harleen Kahlon about the company and how its become the best friend of the dating woman.
Tell us about the product or service.
Bolde is a content + commerce company for women focused on dating and relationships. We launched in 2015 with the support of investors like Joanne Wilson. We quickly gained traction and currently have 3 million monthly uniques. We publish daily editorial about dating and relationships, have an online store with products for single women, and we just announced Lola, an exciting, provocative and timely new kind of dating app just for women. We are an efficiently run company – our total monthly expenses are just $40k.
Lola is a new kind of dating app. It doesn’t help women find dates, like Tinder or Bumble – there are tons of apps that do that – it helps women date more effectively by helping them identify and break unhealthy dating habits, feel more confident and secure, and find love faster. The app accomplishes this through a combination of inspiring text messages, interactive assessments (which are kind of like quizzes), challenges that help build healthier habits, and personalized advice.
We developed Lola after watching millions of women react to the 10,000 pieces of content we’ve published on Bolde over the last 3 years. We discovered that, while a lot of women embrace their singleness and enjoy it, most women have tremendous anxiety about dating. But no one is helping women deal with those feelings. We are, through Bolde and now with Lola. We want women to enjoy their independence, enjoy the process of dating, and approach love and relationships from a place of strength and independence.
How is it different?
There are no tools out there designed to help women deal with the challenges and anxieties of dating and being single.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We’re going after the 70 million adult single women in the US, a huge and underserved market.
What is the business model?
Bolde is ad–supported and Lola follows a freemium model with users being able to pay for premium services.
What inspired the business?
I was single in NY for 15 years before I met my husband on Tinder when I was 40. Nearly all of my girlfriends are still single. The fact is that more and more women are getting married later, if at all, and no one is talking about the implications of this huge demographic shift. While a lot of women love being single, most women do want to settle down at some point and they feel some stress around whether they will actually find love. We want to help women date more effectively so that they can build the lives they want and we also want them to know that they can have fantastic lives without partners. Lola helps them with both pieces.
Why another dating app?
We’re not just another dating app – we’re an app about dating and there’s nothing like what we’re creating.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We expect to achieve 500,000 downloads in the first few months. This may sound ambitious but our lifestyle property Bolde already has 3 million monthly uniques who we can market to for free every month. We launched a coming soon landing page for the app on Monday and are already seeing a 30% conversion rate. There’s clearly demand for this.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
I wish someone had told me not to raise a Series Seed until you were sure that the funds from the seed round could get you to either profitability or a Series A. We raised our Series Seed too early, before we knew exactly what kind of business we were trying to be, and that made it difficult to raise additional capital we needed at times. The sliver lining: we have since figured out exactly who we are and, because raising money was challenging, we became very disciplined and efficient. I don’t know of any media company that spends such little money but has such reach. We’re doing something right.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
I would love a 20 minute call with Mandy Ginsberg, the new CEO of Match Group, owned by IAC. Mandy is based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area but I feel like she counts as someone in the NY community because IAC is a very NY company. Match Group is the leader in the dating space. They’ve done a fantastic job creating products that help people find dates and I think they’d appreciate the slightly different opportunity we’re going after – helping women approach dating and singleness in a healthier way. Mandy was just quoted in Marketwatch today saying that one of her goals is to “make online dating friendlier for women” so I think we’d have a lot to talk about.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is home! It’s also the center of all media and we launched as a media company. I did grow up in the Bay Area and the lead investors for our Series Seed are based in Silicon Valley but we’re a NY company.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Sette Mezzo. That said, we have a 2 year old so we rarely get out these days! She’s becoming more independent every day so we’re hoping we’ll start to get our lives back this year!