Founders: Diana Murakhovskaya & Irene Ryabaya
Pitch: Monarq is the first women’s only friendship app with a mission to connect women at every life change.
Over the past few years, Tinder’s explosive growth has spawned many other entrepreneurs to build non-romantic networking services because they saw that there was a chance to disrupt the existing players in social networking with a completely new kind of user experience. One networking platform that makes a great deal of sense to me is a “friendship network” for women. When I heard about this idea from Monarq, I wondered less about the market need, and more about why a social network exclusively for women had yet to take off.
The women I spoke to about this concept all seemed to feel that excluding men from a social network had the promise of a more supportive environment where making new friends and developing new business relationships might be easier than on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Today, a majority of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest users are women. Women also use the internet more than men. Perhaps the answer to why a women’s social network hasn’t yet succeeded lies in the number of women who have traditionally been technologists and technology leaders. The early adopters who helped catapult the biggest Internet brand names to success have been leaders in the tech space. Historically, these technology leaders were overwhelmingly men.
While I couldn’t find empirical studies to show that the overall percentage of women in tech is increasing (some studies actually show that the percentage of women in tech overall is decreasing), we’re certainly seeing high numbers of women applying to and attending our educational boot camp for entrepreneurs. Of the 236 entrepreneurs we’ve graduated from the Roadmap Course, 30% have been women, which from my albeit small sampling might be an indicator of the growing role of women in the startup world.
This is significantly higher than the number of women in leadership positions at venture-backed startups (18%). This same study corroborates my experience that the number of startups with at least one woman founder is on the rise. More women in technology leadership positions should translate to women becoming more influential (and determinative) in the success of new startups.
To empower women to forge friendships to lead richer, more fulfilling and connected lives.
The social needs of the modern woman are evolving. More women are becoming increasingly mobile in their careers and personal lives as they take more freelance and startup jobs and remain unmarried or have unconventional romantic relationships. Because of this quiet revolution, many women are losing their social circles and support, finding it a struggle to build new ones.
The current solutions for discovering new friends and building up a social life fail women on several levels. Meetup event and conferences don’t account for increasingly diverse schedules and spread out geographic locations, especially if women are entrepreneurs. The other solution is using a dating network, and while it’s easy to find a date, it’s really hard to make a friend. The great part about what’s happening right now is that the online dating market has destroyed the stigma of connecting people socially online and bringing relationships into the real world.
In building Monarq, we are creating a market that doesn’t yet exist by disrupting the social networking, dating and online media enterprises that target women. Based on the market for dating and social media comparables, we value the potential of this new “friendship market” to be $4 billion. There are approximately 45-50 million women aged 25-45 (our target demographic) who are active on social networks and comparable media companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Refinery29. On average, these various networks value their users at $100 each, which adds up to a potential women’s social connection market of over $4 billion.
Product or Service:
Imagine you move to a new city — most people can relate to this, since they move at least once — this is both exciting and terrifying because your friends are most likely in the city you just left behind. So what do you do now?
You download Monarq and log in with Facebook, which lets us pull in some information about you. We never post to your Facebook. Then, we ask you 3 questions about your interests, your location and a tagline and then we can immediately show you 3 new women who are potential introductions for you. The best part is it’s a double-blind friend intro, so the only time we will actually connect you is if you both say yes.
We also help you with an icebreaker that’s a fun and engaging question, like “What is your favorite vacation spot?” It’s really easy to answer a question and get started. The more information you give us, the more intelligent matches we can start showing you and figure out what you want in a potential friend.
Real and Vaporware:
The Monarq app is live in the App Store. Because we’re in a private beta, we’re going to have a soft launch in Phoenix in the fall. While we do that, we have a robust feature pipeline that we’re going to be working on over the next few months based on the experience of our beta users.
We have the combined experience and backgrounds in tech, business and sales along with the drive to build a successful startup. Ego is never an issue and together we make decisions and iterate quickly. We quickly recognize what we don’t know and have been able to inspire and rally creative, design and social media experts to believe in our vision and join the team to complement our skills.
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