After the success of paid dating site WhatsYourPrice.com from founder Brandon Wade, we all knew there is a niche out there for paid dating. And these guys from Germany are going
to cash in on the app part of it here in the States. And they are starting in New York with Ohlala, a contoversial dating app, very popular already in Germany.
Ohlala’s CEO and co-founder Pia Poppenreiter describes her app as one that “connects to people to go on instant, paid dates, but what happens on a date is actually a private matter”. Ofcourse, as same happened with WhatsYourPrice, this has already turned into a storm of controverse and criticism. People are seeing this obviously as a disguised form of prostitution/escorting. Poppenreiter continued:” You have to wait to use the app until you’re 21.”, no need to tell Poppenreiter will market this somewhere in the trend of romance-by-the-hour in NYC.
As previously stated, this app has its roots in Germany and was launched over there last August. Since then it has already facilitated over 25,000 paid connections. In addition to the NYC launch today, the app is also adding three new german cities: Stuttgart, Cologne and Dusseldorf. Up to date only Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg were present. The company also announced a $1.7 million seed round raise today with investment from Max Finger, Ben Kubota and Markus Ertler.
The base of the success of Ohlala lays in another (failed)attempt to an app of the same founder, called Peppr. This was an app which explicitely sought to connect clients to sex workers providing “erotic entertainment”. The failed part with the app did not lay in legality though, since 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. Though prostitution is technically legal throughout Germany, due to local prostitution-free zoning practices, sex work is only fully legal in about 2 percent of the country geographically speaking. Where the app stuggled 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 cancelled requests.
Ohlala need to succeed where Peppr failed. dates through the app do not necessarily lead to prostitution, but can be all about “romance, company or a good conversation”. Basically an online platform to plan offline dates. A crucial difference with Peppr: when a guy sent in a request, the lady in question has “only” 21 minutes to respond. This might be longer than Uber, but it is apparantly by the very same concept. A funny last fact: the French coast region Loire-Atlantique has already announced to take steps against Ohlala, since this is their regional promotion slogan.