Monday 10 December 2018

How a simple idea to help build your 'Girl Crew' has turned into a global phenomenon

Elva Carri
Elva Carri
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Reaching your early thirties before meeting 'the one' can prove a major battle with a shrinking social circle that are increasing being paired off.

Apart from romance, however, this also means that finding someone who will agree to a spontaneous night on the town gets less and less likely.

It's a problem that founder and Co-CEO of Girl Crew Elva Carri - one evening when an R Kelly night was on in the Twisted Pepper and she had no wing women available - took it upon herself to solve.

Now, with a team of five behind it, the meeting place platform has 90,000 members in 46 cities. With funding from a number of angel investors and Enterprise Ireland in the bag, the Girl Crew app is launching in a matter of weeks with the ambition of becoming a global phenomenon.

In March of this year, the network were selected to represent the European Union at the SXSW festival in the US.

In 2016, the social startup - backed by Elva, her co-CEO Pamela Newenham and CMO Aine Molloy - won the overall top prize in the Irish leg of the international competition Start TLV.

Girl Crew team with Mark Zuckerberg
Girl Crew team with Mark Zuckerberg

Scheduled to speak on the Start-up stage at TechConnect Live at the RDS, former digital marketing executive Ms Carri (32) took some time to speak with independent.ie about the rapid growth of the firm from such simple beginnings.

The origins

"We started in March 2014 by accident. I just wanted to go out dancing but my non of my main gang wanted to go out. It was an R Kelly night on in the Twisted Pepper!

I put up a shout out on Tinder. I changed my gender settings to a male so I could be seen by all the girls looking for guys and put up a pink picture saying 'I'm female, I'm straight, I just want to go out. Remember when going out used to be fun.'

Read more: Revealed: Irish startup's pitch at TechConnect won judges' hearts - and top funding prize

"There's so much doubt on dating apps in general that I thought it was never going to work. So I just swiped right on everyone; it was such a different experience than on swiping men...  But I matched with a 100 people by the next day.

The ladies behind Girl Crew
The ladies behind Girl Crew

"The first test run with a girl I matched with and a college friend was a complete success and I set up a Facebook group the next day. Almost everyone on Tinder had joined and, when I left my computer for a few hours, they had organised an event between themselves already

"I took it off Tinder when there were about 200 members in the Facebook group. What's crazy is that the second marriage has just happened from the original group of [Girl Crew] girls who met people on nights out."

How it's grown

"Someone actually offered us funding before we even had a business plan because they liked the team and the idea and though that it did have legs; so they just offered it to us. So we scrambled together and hid away for a weekend to come up with a viable business plan.

"From there, we started to speak to whichever business contacts we had asking 'how do we go about this', 'do you have any advice', 'who did we go to' - and just getting warm introductions.

"The funding is covering the wages at the moment. We're bringing in revenue but it isn't enough to pay wages at this point. The app is a big part of that. While we've found ways to monetise on Facebook, there's more sustainable for monetising once you're on your own platform.

"We launched Premium in Dublin, intended for the app but because the app was delayed we decided to try it out on Facebook. Most of the events are member organised but premiums organise one event a week with more structure and a point of contact etc. That's going really well and we'll be launching Free and Premium options when the app rolls out."

Online Editors

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