- An Irish freelance journalist created GirlCrew after resorting to using Tinder one night to make female friends.
- The app has over 100,000 and has raised $1 million from prominent figures in tech, including LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.
On a Friday night in 2014, Elva Carri found herself alone and frustrated she didn’t have anyone to go out dancing with.
In a last-ditch effort to find a friend in Dublin, Ireland, where she was living and working as a freelance journalist at the time, Carri did something unusual: She changed the gender setting on her Tinder account to male, indicated she was interested in women, and made her profile picture an image that explained that she was a woman just looking for friends to have a night out with.
Within 24 hours she had hundreds of matches.
“I was overwhelmed. I thought you would have to be kind of mental to swipe on this person that probably looked like a catfish,” Carri told Business Insider.
The women who swiped right on Carri four years ago were the beginning of a community that led to the creation of Girlcrew, a meetup app for women to make friends. The app, which recently launched in the U.S., has 100,000 members worldwide — and has gotten support from prominent leaders in tech, including LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Reddit’s director of data science.
The day after matching with hundreds of women on Tinder, Carri added all of her matches to a Facebook group where everyone could talk to each other. Within a week they had already planned an event and soon — after the group’s existence was publicized in the Irish press — the group began to grow and eventually expand to other cities.
“It got to the point where if people were on the crappy date, they would post in the group asking for us to come rescue them,” Carri said. “We were really a community of women.”
Realizing they were limited with what they could do with a Facebook group, Carri thought she could use the community in the Facebook group to create an app.
How the app works
Girlcrew is centered around groups. Women can choose which city they’re in and browse from a list of events organized by members, such as “Drinks Tonight” or “Kayaking.” Users can also create their own event or post in the app’s “news” section, which acts as a discussion board.
Unlike Bumble, the popular dating app that recently launched a feature that lets women swipe for friends individually, the crux of the app is meeting up with groups of women with similar interests.
“We see ourselves as complimentary to Bumble. Going out on a friend date one-on-one can be a really terrifying experience,” Carri said. “GirlCrew is really focused on groups. Say you’re on GirCrew in Dublin, when you post something, you’re really interacting with all the girls in Dublin. It’s a little mad.”
In Dublin, women can pay 10 euros per month (which amounts to around 12 U.S. dollars) for a subscription service that guarantees invites to at least four events per month organized by the company.
Pamela Newenham, one of Carri’s co-founders, met LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner when he traveled to Ireland in 2016. Working as a journalist at the Irish Times, she was the only reporter that scored an interview with him during the small window he was in the country.
After the interview, Newenham and Weiner were chatting casually. Newenham mentioned she had recently joined GirlCrew, and after a series of questions, Weiner decided he wanted to invest in the startup on the spot.
“We weren’t even looking for money at that stage. We didn’t even have a business plan finished,” Carri said.
In its first round of funding, GirlCrew raised $1 million from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Wrigley chief marketing officer Orla Mitchell, Reddit’s director of data science Joe Gallagher, Aegis Corporate Strategy managing director Hazel Hutchinson, and PCH International CEO Liam Casey to focus on expanding into the U.S.
“It’s been really nice that people are taking us seriously, and not just looking at us as this girly little thing,” Carri said.
On International Women’s Day in March, Girlcrew launched in New York, Los Angeles, Austin, and San Francisco. Now, there are “crews” in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland, San Antonio, and Seattle. While only 10% of the app’s 100,000 members are located in the U.S., Carri plans to launch in even more cities.
“We’re getting requests for new cities everyday, there just has to be a critical mass of people requesting from a particular city and we’ll go there,” Carri said.