Fed up with guys ruling the dating world, Alexandra Chong decided to take charge.
She created Lulu, an app that allows women to rate and review men they’ve dated. The app first launched in early 2013 and has since gained a healthy following as a network by women for women.
But that wasn’t enough for Chong, who wanted to offer women a chance to really take control. So now Lulu is expanding into the dating world by allowing women to chat with the guys they like, Chong tells PEOPLE exclusively.
“The dating industry is so male-dominated,” she says. “The way these dating apps and sites are structured, they’re not thinking about female needs.”
She adds: “For women it’s not just about looks. It’s about chemistry. It’s about a connection. We enjoy that flirting, that courting. With Lulu, women will get that and they won’t have to worry about getting a message that says ‘DTF?’ ”
For Chong, creating a safe space in which to date has always been a priority. The 33-year-old CEO grew up in Jamaica, where she witnessed many young women get pregnant far too early. That stuck with her, even when she went to London to attend law school.
“I wanted to work with women on family planning,” she says of her early aspirations. But then she got bitten by the start-up bug after joining a music-licensing site. “I realized how incredible it was to be a part of something new. I decided at that point that I wanted to have my own one day.”
It was after a boozy brunch with some gal pals that she came up with the idea for Lulu.
“We were there for like six hours,” she laughs. “We shared everything, our dating experiences, being a woman in finance, all of these incredible stories.
“That was such an important afternoon,” she says. “It got me wondering why there wasn’t a network or a way for women to share their experiences online.” So she started her own.
Women aren’t the only ones who benefit from the app, though. Chong says plenty of men love reading the feedback they get. (Indeed, guys featured on Lulu must have signed up in order to be reviewed.)
“Young men don’t talk as openly about sex and relationships with other young men,” she says. “They want feedback. They’re curious to know. There’s nothing more interesting than hearing what people think about you.”
The goal in launching the chat service, Chong says, is to take the “ugliness out of online dating.”
“Guys can be pretty aggressive,” she says. “On Lulu, only women can start chats and they are 100 percent anonymous. The girl gets to reveal herself once she’s comfortable.
“Guys love being able to be discovered,” she explains, “and it takes away the risk of rejection for women. What’s not awesome about that?”