dating app popular in Germany, is launching its services today in its first American market, New York City.
It was no sooner than Ohlala’s CEO and co-founder Pia Poppenreiter had begun describing her app as one that “connects people to go on instant, paid dates,” that she began listing a cavalcade of caveats.
“But what happens on the date is actually a private matter,” Poppenreiter said.
The app, which launched in Germany this past August, has already facilitated over 25,000 paid connections for hot-to-trot users.
In addition to today’s NYC launch, the app is also adding three new cities (Stuttgart, Cologne and Dusseldorf) to its German market, which already includes Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg.
The company also announced a $1.7 million seed round raise today with investment from Max Finger, Ben Kubota and Markus Ertler.
Before creating Ohlala, Poppenreiter had worked on building Peppr, an app that more explicitly sought to connect clients to sex workers providing “erotic entertainment.” Where the app struggled was in the logistics of facilitating these connections quickly.
Clients sent requests directly to sex workers and the interface led to a significant number of canceled requests.
Ohlala approaches the connection for “paid dates” in a manner that allows for more instant liaising.
Once a male user puts in a request, which includes such subtle romanticisms as hours needed and desired price, the inquiry has just 21 minutes to be accepted by a female user in the area before it disappears into the erogenous ether.
If a request is accepted by a female user, the pair then have the opportunity to negotiate a bit on pricing and time before settling to meet offline.
After hearing this explanation, I admit I somehow accidentally referred to Ohlala as an escort service at which point Poppenreiter reminded me that her company has never referred to itself as such and, moreover, that she would more accurately classify it as a dating app with a payment mechanism built into it.
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Germany has what many would call a booming sex work industry, where regulations are more generally aimed at protecting the sex workers’ well-being and safety.