Lulu (founded by Alison Schwarz and Alexandra Chong) dreamed up their Lulu app so that women could research a man they’re interested in – and find out if he’s got skeletons in his closet, or is a good dating bet.(One of the downsides of internet dating sites: horror stories abound of women who’ve belatedly discovered that the man they met online is actually still married, and was really looking for a fling on the side.) After raising more than .5 million (£2.3m) from investors, more than 80 million profiles have been viewed on Lulu, and counting, with the App’s users checking out the pros and cons of a man’s character, dress sense and sense of humour, awarding marks out of 10.
Other popular apps include Tinder (for straight people, a variation of Grindr, for gay people) – which lets you discover who likes you nearby and connects you if you're both interested.
As someone who had to drag herself to parties after a long week in the office (reasoning that otherwise, the only man I was destined to meet would be standing at my door with a pizza and a motorcycle helmet), I am certain I’d have used online dating – and quite possibly Lulu – if a real-life Cupid hadn’t shot his arrow just in time.
’ – only to have it answered by a guy who’d had her in his sights for some time, and was only too happy to oblige.
It’s early days, but the signs are that they could indeed live happily ever after – and while not exactly Brief Encounter, it’s still quite a story to tell their children.) There’s also a chance that dating sites could alternatively be eclipsed by apps.
Surely the world of partner-hunting offers a fantastic business opportunity for a savvy female entrepreneur (who’s been through the online dating mill) to come up with matchmaking’s answer to Sheila’s Wheels, for single, divorced or widowed women …?
(Which might lead the cynical to suggest that sites have a vested interest in not seeing subscribers settle down – and cancel that direct debt …) Allegedly, nine million single Britons are looking for love. Instead, they’ll be focusing on Cupid.com, Love and Uniform (for uniformed personnel such as the armed forces and the nursing profession.
Because clearly, quite a lot of us still like a man – or a woman – in uniform …) They want to steer clear of ‘more adult-orientated content’, believing that ‘in mainstream dating, customers are demanding increasingly higher quality and this can be a rewarding area for the company to focus its efforts.’ Globally, Cupid has seen the number of active users on its sites rise 18pc, year-on-year, to 19.2 million.
But what’s really interesting to me is how few dating sites seem to have been founded exclusively by women: my research flagged up just a couple (one a lesbian site, and one, London’s oldest introduction agency, Drawing Down The Moon, founded by Mary Balfour in 1984).
So: is there a newer dating model out there, ripe for the launching …?