Singapore-based startup incubator FatFish Medialab has announced an undisclosed amount of funding to Love Out Loud Asia (LOLA), a private-dating platform for singles in the Southeast Asia region. Previously known as lessworkmorelove, the private online dating site, is dubbed as “simple, fun and private way to connect with like-minded singles.” LOLA claims to give one potential match per day, and as users’ exposure is limited, the service gets to focus on the quality of the match.
The investment, done via the i.Jam Reload scheme under Singapore’s Media Development Authority, will help LOLA expand its reach throughout the region, as well as help with the developers’ continuous product innovation.
Spending more time offline
According to Kenneth Lim, Co-founder, LOLA, the startup is all about convincing users to spend less time online and more time actually dating. “We have built LOLA to do just that by combining the use of date ideas (to prompt offline meet ups) and once daily concept (more privacy which is suited for the Asian demographic we are going after),” he told e27.
LOLA’s once-per-day concept tries to tackle the issue of privacy and information overload that is usually prevalent in online dating sites. Lim said, “I feel that LOLA appeals to both new and existing online dating users, even more so because we are tackling major issues like privacy. Take for instance how 80 percent of males go after 20 percent of females on other dating sites resulting in spam/unwanted messages. We offer a simple, fun & private way to connect with like-minded singles.”
How’s LOLA different from other online dating services? Lim says that LOLA has a different target market altogether. “We are very different from other services like Between. They are catering to couples, while for us the focus is on singles.”
LOLA, which is in Beta currently, claims to have around 3,000 active users from Singapore, Manila, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Lim says that “just through email matching”, the team has been able to pair over 1,000 potential couples, judged by mutual “likes” on their profiles.
Focus on the region
Unlike most other startups that aim to conquer a global audience at the outset, LOLA plans to have a regional focus. “The product is crafted specifically to appeal to the Asian demographic which is mostly shy and conservative by adopting a no-browsing policy, sending users only one quality match a day, thus reducing their profile exposure, and using date ideas to help them get inspired to meet-up in real life,” Lim said.
“We are looking specifically to grow in Southeast Asia at the moment, starting with the above mentioned four cities before moving on to include more affluent cities like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tokyo, and the like,” Kenneth Lim added.
He adds that international markets are not likely to be a target any time soon, given that other markets might approach dating differently.
The funds from this investment will be mostly used in perfecting the match-making algorithm, says Lim. “How do we deliver the best matches to our users?” is the usual question in developing such a service. Lim believes that “simplicity in creating value is the key to success.” The team’s key intellectual property is its matching algorithm, and it wants to capitalize on the recent investment in further improving its intellectual property.
In terms of the involvement from FatFish, the group feels that LOLA plays well with its diverse portfolio of tech investments, especially in the lifestyle area. Lau Kin Wai, Co-founder, Fatfish Medialab, expressed optimism that the LOLA team will add on to the offering in the lifestyle digital space. “We can help them (LOLA) with various synergies we have across,” he said.
Lau added that the incubator has investments in online games; Dressabelle, one of the top three local fashion sites in Singapore; and the concert arm – FatFish Entertainment. He lauded the LOLA team as “very savvy start-up founders and good e-marketeers,” and stressed on the people-based aspect of investing. “They have a sound branding and marketing strategy and a rich execution track record. It’s about people when we invest,” Lau said.
LOLA is all set to do a soft launch of its mobile app next month. The team claims that the LOLA app would use dynamic web to deliver mobile content and that we would be the key differentiator from other similar apps. “As speed is the most important, we went ahead with HTML5 technologies for our mobile platform,” Lim said.
A key advantage of HTML5 is speed of deployment across different platforms. “Ninety-five percent of our mobile code base is reusable (with 50 percent reusable for desktop). We were able to close most gaps simply with real devices testing but Android is just tricky as usual,” Lim said.