Lulu (formerly Luluvise), the controversial mobile app that lets girls anonymously review and recommend guys, is seeing some pretty decent traction since it rebooted in February to focus on launching across U.S. college campuses, early Facebook-style. The London/U.S. company, backed by Passion Capital, PROfounders and a host of prominent angels including Yuri Milner and Dave Morin, has garnered 200,000 users in 8 weeks across the five U.S. universities where it’s actively been marketed.
That’s out of a possible market of 6 million female U.S. undergraduates, while at the current trajectory Lulu reckons it could be on track to reach 1 in 4 female undergraduates in the U.S. by the end of the year, something which it then plans to use as a springboard to target the U.S. female market as a whole.
Pitched as a “girls-only app for dating intelligence” or an anonymous database of guys, created by girls — men are strictly prohibited from joining via Facebook login and other checks — Lulu has, perhaps understandably, received its fair amount of criticism, even though it initially stalled before take off. The main charge being that the same concept if applied to guys rating girls would be frowned upon, not least by investors, though in actual fact there are a number of similar startups targeting males.
The other, more legitimate, charge levied at Lulu is that the men reviewed have little right to reply due to being locked out of the app, even if there is a limited accompanying app that lets them edit their basic profile. A lawsuit waiting to happen, maybe, though the app’s ToS clearly puts the onus on the women asked to upload reviews, suggesting slightly disingenuously that they must seek the permission of the guy they are reviewing first if they choose to post information about them that may contravene any data-protection laws.
All of which hasn’t put off the startup’s backers. In February, Lulu announced it had added another $2.5 million to its coffers, bringing the total raised to $3.5m.
Of course, controversy has also undoubtedly brought lots of PR, including a fair amount of mainstream media coverage in the UK and U.S., such as on Ryan Seacrest’s Virgin Radio show, so it’s not so surprising to see some traction happening stateside.
Interestingly, I’m told that overall Lulu’s U.S. college campus traction is coming at an acquisition cost of $0.07 per user, while in the first 5 universities where the app launched, it achieved 35-40% penetration within 2-3 weeks. It’s now scaling this approach nationwide.
Other interesting stats that have been shared with TechCrunch: 50% of new users come back weekly, visiting 8 times per week on average, spending 45 mins in the app per week. In addition, 52% of users create content. Overall, Lulu has seen 57 million profile views, 4 million user sessions, 5.2 million reviews read, and 10 million searches.
And, perhaps unsurprisingly, for every three women that join, one guy tries to — unsuccessfully — sign up.
Well, you can’t blame a guy for trying.