Unique dating app that will let users ‘rate’ matches to launch in Boston

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Lola was created to be an “anti-dating app dating-app” that fixes “everything wrong with dating apps,” a founder said.

Ashley Jannino of Tewksbury, at a launch party for the dating app Lola, at Capo in South Boston. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Ever wanted to give your date a review? Or maybe a report card? If so, you’re in luck.

Lola, a Boston-based startup created last year, aims to be an “anti-dating app dating-app” that fixes “everything wrong with dating apps.” That involves allowing users to “review” their match after a first date and skip online chatting, according to the company’s founders.

“You match with people and end up talking to them for days on end,” said Rachel Cohen, who co-founded Lola along with her partner Paul English. “And then [people’s] intent is never to meet, or they talk to someone for two months and when they meet and there’s no chemistry, the person looks completely different, or they’re just super creepy.”

To combat the problems of modern dating, English and Cohen decided to take things into their own hands and create a platform that helps people get serious and avoid endless chatting. The app, launching this spring, will allow users to enter days of the week they are free to go on a date and match singles in the area who are available on the same day. 

Created to fix the “pain points” of dating apps

Cohen and English — who met on Hinge — were on their second date when Cohen brought up the idea of creating an innovative dating app. Three years later, the couple decided that it was the right time to bring the idea to life in a “great” location: Boston.

From left, Rachel Cohen and Paul English at a launch party for their dating app Lola at Capo in South Boston. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe.

English, a Boston-area entrepreneur and co-founder of several companies, including Boston Venture Studio, and Cohen first conducted a survey of more than 250 people to uncover the largest “pain points” and frustrations of modern dating.

“We got all this information back, so we took the original concepts and then started playing around with it to really be the anti-dating app dating-app,” Cohen said. 

Most survey respondents said they were tired of endless back-and-forth messaging — sometimes with dozens of people at one time. And if they were lucky enough to go on an in-person date, they were often disappointed. 

This included complaints that matches didn’t look like their pictures or were “creepy,” Cohen said.

“Or maybe they had an okay date, but they didn’t realize they were doing certain things like talking about their ex too much or on their phone too much,” Cohen added. 

How will it work?

To combat endless online chatting, Lola will only match people who are available for dates on the same nights of the week and commit to meeting in-person. Users will still be able to pick basic preferences for partners, such as a person’s distance from them and their height, and fill out a personal profile. 

To help people improve their dating skills, both parties will be prompted to give one to five “hearts” to their match after they’ve gone out. 

If someone rates the date one heart, a prompt will ask why the date “wasn’t so great.”

“Maybe they’d say they didn’t look like their profile, they made you feel uncomfortable, unsafe,” Cohen said. “We’re monitoring all of that. So every time someone reports that, if we see a trend, we’re gonna kick those people off the app.”

The rules go both ways — if someone is consistently giving others one star, they might also lose access to the dating service. 

For two heart ratings and above, users will be prompted to input one to three pre-set attributes they enjoyed about their date and zero to three negative attributes, Cohen said. After a user goes on five dates, they can choose to see a “dating scorecard” with anonymous feedback from their matches. 

“It might be like, ‘You wore too much fragrance.’ ‘You weren’t polite to the staff.’ ‘You’re on your phone too much,’” Cohen said. “They’re very specific things to help people become better daters.”

Feedback from each date will then be used to tailor matches more closely to a user’s preferences, Cohen added. 

App to start matching users within the next month

While the app is available to download now, it will start matching people within the next month, Cohen said. Initially, the app will only be available within a 75-mile radius from the center of Boston, but the company plans to expand to other areas like New York and south Florida in the future.

The app will follow similar payment plans to its competitors. There will always be a free version, but advanced users will have to pay “nominal fees,” according to Lola’s website.

About 3,300 people have already registered and are on a waitlist for when the app starts matching people, Cohen said.

“Lola is for anyone who wants to meet new people and go out on a date right away,” Lola’s website reads. “We really wanted to create a safe and trusted community where you can have a nice time with pretty much anyone you meet on Lola.”

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