I have been driving the same car since I was sixteen years old. The same car for ten years and I love it more than red wine (meaning, a lot). And just as Annie Hall wouldn’t have been the same driving a four-door sedan, I have a very real fear of ever giving up my VW bug. Unfortunately, this nightmare has become a sad reality. The last time my gal went in for a check-up she came back with bad news. Translation – it’s time for me to buy a new car.
When I was sixteen years old, life was kind of tough. On top of your typical myriad of teen angst and issues, I had fallen into the role of care-taker to a sick parent which meant I was often asked to stay home, missing out on all the fun rainbow parties. Those ended up just being full of Lisa Frank memorabilia, right?
All I wanted was to get away. Not necessarily run away, I loved my family and knew they relied on me, but there was a happy compromise to be struck. Some way for me to temporarily escape the everyday bummer attitude of my household. This compromise came in the form of a 2000, 5 speed navy blue VW beetle.
I was obsessed. It had a cd player.
It smelled like crayons. Every new passenger would mention the scent within the first five minutes of their ride. It had seat warmers, which were a total hit during the freezing Wisconsin winters. And a vase that held a fake flower. Actually, you know what, I never really liked that vase.
Everything happened in that car.
The first conversation I had with the boy who would become my High School sweetheart was about my ability to drive a stick shift. He would often leave love notes on the wind-shield & we would awkwardly attempt to make out in the front, bucket seats. (We tried the back seats once but there were a few minor injuries – it’s just too small).
More times than once (maybe fifty-seven) while driving aimlessly on a Saturday night, my best friend and I would stop in the middle of the street, blast the radio, and have a full on, impromptu dance off in the headlights. Attempting our best “booty pop” while getting low to lil’ John.
I spent hours parked alongside Lake Michigan belting out “Popular” from the Wicked Soundtrack. I thought I was going to be a musical theater star. So did my car.
When I headed to college, I lovingly stuffed my belongings into the tiny pockets of my little beetle and drove six hours to what I was sure would be the greatest experience of my life. And when it wasn’t, when school became overwhelming, hard, or mean I would jump right back in and head home singing along to Jenny Lewis in her Rilo Kiley days.
It has taken me to every date. Every job interview. Every outdoor movie. Every grocery store run and every bachelorette Monday at my friend Stephanie’s apt.
You guys, I’m not ok. Whether irrational or not, I am afraid to be without that car. It has been my emotional crutch for ten years. It is part of my persona, who I am. When someone finds out I drive a VW bug they say “Oh, that makes sense.”
This weekend I am (very reluctantly) going car shopping with my brother. I’m excited at the prospect of air conditioning and a fancy dent free exterior but just as you never get over your first love, I’ll never feel perfect in any car but that 2000, 5-speed, navy blue VW beetle.
Have a great story about your first car? Please share, it will make me feel better.
- Dude, come on, I skipped yoga for this.
- Aw, poor thing! It looks so sad.
- I think we should see other people.
- Man, your ex really wasn’t kidding.
- Pass me my laptop and a Kleenex or two?
It’s okay if you picked at that thing on your face.
It’s okay if you got drunk and said something weird.
It’s okay if you know his Facebook by heart.
It’s okay if “One Headlight” still makes you cry.
It’s okay if you check the front door 3 times.
It’s okay if you thought you’d be rich by now.
It’s okay if you can’t blow dry your own hair.
It’s okay if you hire movers.
It’s okay if you haven’t left your house all day.
It’s okay if you’re jealous of your best friend.
It’s okay if you’re jealous of your worst enemy.
It’s okay if he heard your stomach gurgle.
It’s okay if one of your boobs kind of sucks.
It’s okay if you still haven’t finished that book.
It’s okay if nobody likes your status.
It’s okay if you’re sad or lonely or stuck.
Just some Dudes checking out Lulu. Checking it out real good.
We talk about Lulu, a new app where girls can anonymously rate guys.
Meet Natalie Durot! With a vivacious personality and never ending positivity she is a perfect example of what we look for in our team leaders. Lulu rocked Miami of Ohio, and Natalie proves that when a girl puts her mind to something she will not be stopped. Natalie, we salute you!
What was your favorite part about being a Lulu Agent? Trying to get boys to join Lulu Dude. If you told them people were talking about them on Lulu but didn’t tell them what they were saying or if it was good or bad it drove them CRAZY, so naturally they had to join!
Was your first Lulu Review of a friend, relative, crush, hook-up or ex? My first Lulu review was a hook-up
Best relationship advice? Never seem too available it is their job to chase you! Remember you’re worth it and never settle. Have fun and take chances.
Must have quality in a man? He must be funny. If you can’t make me laugh it’s a deal breaker.
Dream job? Working for a PR fashion company, or being a fashion columnist.
What is your best quality? My best quality has to be that I am dedicated and enthusiastic in most everything I do. I don’t half ass things ever.
Who is one of your fictional heroines? Carrie Bradshaw: she has endless amounts of class and fashion.
One quote you live by? “All good things are wild, and free”—Henry David Thoreau
Three must-have things in your purse? My phone, my headphones, and my wallet.
Favorite movie candy? Raisinets!!
Leila swept into my freshman acting class one morning, all worn leather and vintage lace.
She’d come to get the audition sides for the school play, but for the moment, she was just looking around with this peaceful half-smile. It was like time didn’t exist for her. Her intrinsic warmth dissolved all my usual fear of rejection, and I walked right up and introduced myself.
When I held out my hand to be shaken, she smiled, amused, and hugged me instead.
“I’m Leila,” she said, all breath and effortless seduction.
There was nobody else like Leila in the world.
She was indisputably the best actress at auditions and she got the lead. Her pauses were as significant as her tears, and she kissed her stage-husband so truthfully that it looked like she loved him.
We talked a little, here and there, and then one night after rehearsal, Leila offered to drive me home. When I got into her car, she rolled down the windows, lit a cigarette, and sang along to Ani DiFranco’s Brief Bus Stop:
She asked me for a light and if I thought her hair looked okay
We grew out of the small talk into stuff strangers just don’t say
I pointed out my house, but Leila just nodded, passed it, and parked way up the block. Then she reached into the back seat and grabbed a fat, spiral notebook – her journal.
Leila read me bits of her poems, breathless, beautiful, and even hiked up her yellow slip to reveal a line of poetry she’d jotted on her inner thigh, “just in case.” She told me that she wanted to hear my poetry. When I told her I didn’t have any, she assured me that I did.
I brought her gifts sometimes: a vanilla sachet; fuzzy slippers; a postcard with a fairy on it. The other kids in the play started saying we were lesbians. Leila liked that rumor, so I did too. She would lay her head on my shoulder and stroke my fingers, one by one, just to induce the whispers that amused her so much.
But when Leila wasn’t there, the theater was not a pleasant place for me. The other girls left me out of everything, and they weren’t subtle about it. Leila maintained that their cruelty was born out of jealousy, and quoted Ani to back her up:
God help you if you are an ugly girl, course too pretty is also your doom
‘Cause everyone harbors a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room
Of course, she was just trying to make me feel better. Leila was absolutely stunning, and everyone still loved her. She was just trying to make me feel better. It worked.
At the end of the year, Leila graduated and left the country. For a while, she sent me postcards. One came from Thailand, where she was using massages as currency. Another, from India, was written on the back of a photograph of her hennaed hands forming a heart. But by the time I graduated, the letters had stopped coming.
Years later, Ani DiFranco came to town, and I went to the show. Her throat was sore, and her voice was scratchy.
“I don’t understand,” she joked. “Coffee and wine are liquids too.”
The sort of thing Leila would have said.Photo by Jennie Ross. Like you didn’t know.
A few late-twenties emotional breakdowns back, I was in search of some form of structure, not to mention disposable income, and applied for a job at a 24-hour coffee shop near my house. The clientele was questionable and the bathroom was disgusting, but the music was good, the vibe was chill, and it gave me a place to go and pretend to be a person for a few hours a day.
The patrons were divided up thusly: nonthreatening crazies, like the lady who thought we didn’t know she lived there, even though she stashed her toothbrush in the bookcase; threatening crazies, like the slam poet who came in on meth one night and tried to rob us; normal girls, who wandered in accidentally and never returned; and normal guys, who were sick of writing at Starbuck’s, and didn’t mind a crossdresser come-on or two with their morning coffee.
John was of the latter variety. He’d come in early, set up shop in the corner, and stay for hours, sometimes meeting with various agents or managers. He looked like a 1990’s heartthrob of the Rider Strong variety – cute, but in a dated way, with floppy hair, plaid overshirts, and a black cord around his neck. I learned that John was from Texas, which explained the style. I learned a lot about him, actually, because he started loitering by the register, telling me I made the best cappuccinos in the world, and giving me the sleepy eyes of the newly smitten. I had a boyfriend, so it was nothing like that on my end, but he was sweet and easy to talk to, so he became my work buddy.
Once, on my day off, I came in to do some writing and saw John in his usual spot, meeting with an older blonde lady. The next day, I mentioned it to him.
“Why didn’t you say hi?!” He chided.
“I didn’t want to interrupt. Weren’t you in a meeting?”
John paused… then replied: “Isn’t everything a ‘meeting’?”
“Totally,” I nodded… before realizing I had no clue what that meant.
Then, John admitted: “That’s my wife.”
I was stunned. The fact that John had never mentioned his wife wasn’t a lie exactly, but it was a big fat omission, and a peculiar one, since he knew I had a boyfriend – I talked about him all the time.
“It’s not what it sounds like, though…” He explained, which is what people say when it’s EXACTLY what it sounds like.
John stuttered out something about how they’d gotten pregnant young (yes, turned out was a father), and gotten married immediately. They still loved each other, but they had an “unorthodox” way of doing things now. It took a lot of back and forth before I understood what John was saying: they were into threesomes.
“I don’t know why I’m telling you this,” he said, either feigning embarrassment or genuinely embarrassed — I wasn’t sure which. And then, he mumbled, “we’ve never been with a couple before.”
The weird thing about all of this was that John was not weird at all. I know I probably sound incredibly naïve right now, but he really was a totally cool, normal dude, who apparently had this relationship… quirk… that he wanted to share with me. What else he wanted to share with me, or my boyfriend and me for that matter, I wasn’t sure.
Now, I live for this kind of awkwardness, so I rushed home and told my boyfriend the whole hilarious story with theatrical flair and scrupulous attention to detail. He found it NOT AT ALL hilarious, which I probably should have anticipated. Unlike John, I had not yet learned the skill of the artful omission.
The next day, John brought his wife back in and introduced us. He looked excited, nervous even, as I shook her cold, spray-tanned hand – I think he was hoping sparks would fly.
Instead, John’s wife gave me the most terrifying glare I have ever received, eerily coupled with an icy, fake smile.
“John has told me so much about you,” she said. “What’s your sign?” I told her I was a Libra.
“Libras are very loyal,” she said meaningfully. “Very trustworthy.” She held eye contact with me for a freakishly long time without blinking, and then took her boba tea and walked away.
The next day at the café, John told me how much his wife loved me! How she thought I was just adorable!
And I had to admit, I was impressed. The girl knew when to tell her man the truth. And when to lie through her perfect white teeth.
A few days later, I quit my job. I didn’t feel like seeing John much after that, and I sure as hell didn’t want to see his scary ice-queen wife.
As the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, hide from them.”
Plus, the bathroom really was disgusting.
It’s the morning afternoon after a mixer. What exactly happened last night? It’s all a little hazy. Your roommates remind you of the blonde Greek god they had to pull you off of and you decide that must be who “Aaron (insert Greek letters here)” is. After quickly searching composites and a short session on Facebook, you locate the guy from last night. You go to click on his profile pictures, but it’s set to private. Shit. Who does that? Fuck you, future employers. Naturally, you pick up your iPhone and do the next best thing: check Lulu.
Thanks to all your mutual friends, your man pops up immediately when you type his name into the genius app. You click on the link, and – are you kidding me?! 374 views? Okay, maybe this isn’t that bad. Lulu tracks total views, not views per individual, so this could still be the work of one crazy ex-girlfriend. One of your exes is currently at 500 views, thanks to the 499 times you checked to make sure he wasn’t sleeping with anyone new before you were. This can still be salvaged.
You’re momentarily distracted by his profile picture. Your future children would look so cute with his green eyes and your blonde hair and – okay, that’s enough. Stop staring at those beautiful, emerald green – okay, seriously this time. Enough. Bite the bullet and check his score. 6.7? Your stomach knots up. Surely not. This could still be the work of the crazy ex, right? Let’s just see how many reviews – holy shit. You may have only passed statistics because you already had all the exams, but you know a big sample size when you see one.
You click on the most recent review. 72 hours ago. SHIT. By an ex-hookup. SHIIIIIIIT. You should have probably realized this guy was a player, but his all-time high score of “4” in the commitment category seals the deal. Your anxiety turns into anger. Who does this guy think he is? Time to explore the hashtags. #GoneByMorning? No surprise there. #7thYearSenior? Well at least you know he’s not a freshman. #BigFeet. This one seems promising…but, no. You’re thanking the Lulu gods for watching over you and saving you an embarrassing trip to student health.
Twenty-four hours later, you wake up in a strange room and look over to find yourself next to Aaron. You quickly slip out of bed, steal a shack shirt, and call a pledge ride. You smirk to yourself as you hop in the pledge’s car. You immediately pull out your iPhone to add #SixPack, #KissableLips, and #SexualPanther to his review. What can you say? Girls will be girls.
You’ve all been seeing and hearing the hype for Lulu, the Girls-Only app for reviews and recommendations on guys.
I am not so secretly in love with Lulu. It’s fun and the best excuse for procrastination when I have a paper to write. Lulu allows me to see which guys are keepers or major creepers. It also allows me to be as kind and merciful or as vindictive and ruthless as I want when reviewing guys I’ve interacted with. Lulu gives me the power to be Taylor Swift. Need I say more?
To all you guys who never gave me the time of day, watch out. Lulu says that all reviews are positive—not mine. If you were ever a jerk to me, my roommates, my sister, or someone I was ever friends with, I will probably leave a harsh review of you. I really have zero toleration for rude and disrespectful guys, and Lulu is the perfect outlet for me to share you with all of my friends.
I’m not a serial psycho-reviewer, though. To the guys who have treated me well in the past and to my great guy friends, I gave you great reviews. You deserve them.
I really like that Lulu allows you to rate guys through survey-like questions, and at the end it produces a number score. It’s fair, and girls can’t leave zeros for boys they dislike. You have the option to rate them as Ex-Boyfriend, Crush, Together, Hooked Up, Friend, or Relative. Then, you select good and bad hash-tag descriptions of the guy, and once you’re done with that, voila, a number appears with a brief summary.
I like Lulu a lot because it is a feminist’s dream app. You can leave brutally honest and fair reviews and the guys can’t see a thing. Your privacy is protected and women hold all the power. It might seem a bit unfair to guys, but hey, we deserve it. Hundreds of years of inequality for us and with this one app suddenly guys are all in a fuss! Like men didn’t do the same exact thing in their gentlemen’s clubs… Yeah, it wasn’t extended to as large a network as Facebook, but still.
On a more serious note, I would advise you to take the reviews people leave with a grain of salt. The idea of Lulu is great—girls helping each other realize which guys are hot, nice, ambitious or mean, creepy, etc. However, the reviews don’t hold much weight when there are vindictive reviewers out there as well as guys reviewing themselves through a girl’s phone. Don’t get me wrong. I still get enjoyment from reviewing, but I know that it is probably the most meaningless and fleeting enjoyment I will ever get. Enjoy the app for what it is: a frivolous but fun procrastination technique.
Being a Lulu Agent, and spreading the word of Dude Reviews, isn’t all glamorous! But this FSU Ambassador made it look Oh so easy. She took some time out of her busy schedule of speaking Chinese and dreaming of teacup pigs to answer a few questions. Get to know the real “PayPay!”
What was the best part about being a Lulu Ambassador at FSU
Being able to see first hand as to how the app has influenced girls around campus. Also, the marketing aspect really intrigued me and helped me to connect with girls, enlightening them about how useful the app truly is! Girls love to spill their experiences and nothing’s better than the truth!What is your favorite Lulu hashtag?
In the beginning of Lulu my favorite was #StrongLikeOx. Since the update I have been loving the hashtag #CheaperThanABigMac. Guys can be so freaking cheap…it’s like bro, I’m asking you to buy me a drink, not a car.Who is your Hollywood crush?
Ryan Gosling, hands down. I feel like he could walk on water if he tried….What’s the best part about where you grew up?
I grew up in Sarasota, Florida. My favorite thing in Sarasota isn’t only the fact that we have the #1 beach in America, Siesta (with plenty of eye candy, of course), but the endless boat days and exquisite restaurants that we have throughout the city.Who is your hero and why?
My hero is my mother. Cliche, I know, but she has taught me more about being a woman and embracing change than anyone I know. She always has a warming smile on and challenges me with my best interest at heart.Dream job?
My absolute dream job would be doing business with China in one way or another (yes, I speak Chinese!), most likely in the sales industry or selling big time real estate. I may also buy into a franchise or two (my dreams/expectations are quite big!).Where have always wanted to travel?
Greece! Ever since I saw Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants I’ve been obsessed lolWhat do you think is the cutest animal on the planet?
Teacup pigs for sure! I mean, who doesn’t think they’re precious?!Describe your perfect day.
(Set up: 70 degrees outside and a perfectly sunny day) I would first start off the day by sleeping in and grabbing brunch with some girlfriends. Followed by us all driving with the windows down, jamming to Tay Swift and spending the day at a beach. After that, go to a nice dinner and then either stay in and watch movies, or go out on the town with the girls!What are the three most important things you keep in your purse?
My wallet, favorite pair of aviators and my Clinique powder (in case I need to freshen up!)
What are some of your dude donts?
1. Don’t let a girl pay for anything unless she offers! Even then, say no! 2. Don’t hit it & quit it…that’s just plain rude. 3. Don’t act like you don’t know a girl when you see her. Girls love it when guys go out of their way to say hi!What are some of your dude dos?
1. A way to a woman’s heart is unexpected surprises at unexpected times 2. Do know what she enjoys and base dates from it 3. Do treat girls with respect 4. Do send her “good morning!” texts (it’s the little things)
Thanks to Payton for all her hard work as a Lulu Agent at FSU! We are thrilled to have her as part of the team!
~ Annie Bruss
1. Is your email signature obnoxious?
If your email signature contains any version of the phrase “Sent on the run. Please excuse typos” change it immediately!
I understand the impulse; you want me to know that your phone autocorrects, and you meant “fucking”, not “ducking”, or that Suri is the dummy who mixed up “their” and “there”, not you.
Here’s the problem – you sound like a narcissistic jerk. When I read: “Sent on the run. Please excuse typos.”
I hear: “Sent on the run. Please excuse typos. I did not even reread this email before I hit send. I am that busy and important. In fact, emailing you is the lamest thing I’ve done all day.”
2. Mind the ellipsis!
The dot dot dot is a major problem. Why ya gotta play us like that, iMessage? Basically, when you start to write me an iMessage, an ellipsis symbol on my phone indicates that you’re typing.
Why is this a problem, you ask? Well, let’s say I text you, “what’s up?” You type a novel back to me, reread it, realize you’re being too intense, delete it, and then just type “nada, u?”
Dude, I saw the “…” for like a minute and a half! Even the My Left Foot guy didn’t take that long to text “nada, u?” So, be aware! Do your drafts in the Notes app, if you must.
3. Capitalization is your friend.
I’m guilty of this one too, but the buck stops here! I receive a lot of emails typed all lowercase, presumably to give the impression that the sender is too cool and busy to bother with the exertion of holding down the shift key.
Let’s all stop with the lowercase emails. We’re not fooling anyone.
4. How to look less gross on videochat:
You probably know that when taking photographs, the most flattering camera angle is slightly above your face, right?
So why are you letting your computer shoot you dead on?! Here is the trick to look hot on videochat: simply place your laptop on a dictionary or two (or three if you are PMSing…) and tip the screen slightly toward you. Lookin’ good…
5. Your phone didn’t die.
If somebody calls and you don’t feel like picking up, you cannot tell them, later, “my phone died.” If your phone died, it would have gone straight to voicemail!
6. Now, on to emojis…
You thought I was going to say no emojis allowed, didn’t you? Well, you thought wrong! Used sparingly, emojis can really kick your text up a notch.
Here’s the problem – there is one disgusting emoji that dudes should never use, so of course, it is the only emoji that dudes do use. I can’t believe I have to type this sentence, but: Boys, do not send girls the emoji of the smiling pile of shit.
Watch our Founder and CEO, Alexandra Chong, discuss her vision for Lulu on BloombergTV!http://www.bloomberg.com/video/lulu-the-for-girls-by-girls-database-of-guys-_Ca~zuuxR_Ga_yjrkxKE3A.html
Last weekend, my best friend slept over, not so much out of retro adorableness, but more out of drunken necessity, and the next morning, I held her captive to complain about something or other. She trudged through the trenches of my despair for a few minutes, offering up various reasons why things would all turn out okay in the end, but I wasn’t having it. I harped on my “problem” until she finally just shrugged and said…
It was hilarious and earth-shattering to hear in that moment — and seemed the only answer that would fit most any situation. The circumstances of our lives only have as much power as we give them, so if we can look at both the petty annoyances and big life stuff with the same “que sera sera” attitude, it really does open up a lot of brain space for having fun!
Your jerk dad canceled dinner again? Who cares! Your haircut looks like vintage Bieber? Who cares! You slept with him and he never called? Who cares!
So in celebration of my willfully indifferent bestie, I’m telling you, it’s all good, baby. It’s all okay. I mean, at the end of the day… Who cares?
By Mary Michael Toups Posted Feb 14 2013 - 12:00pm
The other day at lunch I was savoring my pb&j and overheard (…was eavesdropping) two girls at the table next to me gossiping about boys and their scores on something called LuLu. Sometimes when it comes to guys, girls can say the darnest things, so I decided to further my listening. As I continued to eavesdrop on their convo I came to realize that they weren’t talking specifically about boys, they were talking about what other girls had to say about boys.
How are these two girls getting this information? What are these scores they speak of? At this point in time I should’ve just gone over and sat with the girls for the duration of their conversation — Im not the slyest when it comes to eavesdropping.I soon learned that these girls were getting all their information off an iPhone Application, LuLu. Curiosity obviously got the best of me, so I decided to do a little more research on the app… AKA I downloaded it and checked it out for myself… It was a GREAT discovery. LuLu is the first of its kind. It’s an app exclusively for girls in which we can read and write reviews of guys based on assets such as looks, humor, manners, ambition and commitment. Once the review is written, a score is given to the individual under review. The app can be accessed by girls ONLY via their iPhone’s connection to Facebook…. and it’s quite a funny concept if you ask me. The best part of this app is that you can include the most creative/halarious #LuLuTags in your reviews. Hastags can range from: #TallDarkAndHandsome to #Big.Feet., and from #StillLovesHisEx to #CouldUseSomeWork. I definitely told all my friends about it and they found it to be just as entertaining as I did. It became even more entertaining when my guy friends found out about it; there’s nothing like seeing guys stress over their LuLu score. It’s like turning the tables around— the power is now in the hand of the female and the boys are out of luck on this one. Weather you’re an ex, crush, friend or hook up, you can be totally honest about guys and gain great insight on your newest interest. I recommend you check it out if you’re looking for some humorous entertainment or if you really are curious as to what other girls have to say about your crush and their reputation.
In recent weeks, the mobile app Lulu has taken Stanford by storm despite not having an official presence on campus. The app allows women to anonymously rate and review men on appearances, skills and personality, among other categories, and has received both plaudits and flack from users due to its controversial nature. The Daily sat down with Lulu founder Alexandra Chong to talk about her road to entrepreneurial fame and her inspiration for the app, as well as perceptions of — and misconceptions about — her app.The Stanford Daily (TSD): Tell me a little bit about yourself. I read somewhere that you were on the road to becoming a professional tennis player. Is that still a dream of yours?
Alexandra Chong (AC): I grew up in Jamaica and then went to boarding school in England and Canada, and then landed in a boarding school in Florida, at a tennis academy. In fact, I almost went professional as a tennis player. I played on the Jamaican National Team and the Jamaican World Cup Federation Team. Then I made a decision when I was 19, almost 20, that I was not going to pursue a professional career in tennis.TSD: How did you first get involved in the startup industry? Was that always a career goal for you?
AC: I moved to Madrid for a year preparing for law school and later got into [the] London School of Economics to study law. [Initially], I wanted to go back to Jamaica and get involved in politics, because my dream was actually — and it’s not something that I’ve forgone — to get involved particularly in large-scale family planning initiatives there. I believe that a big part of the socioeconomic breakdown in Jamaica is due in part to the breakdown of the nuclear family. There’s kind of a culture now where you’ve got a lot of women becoming pregnant very young, around the early years of high school. There’s a lack of parental responsibility on the [part] of the father, and it becomes the cultural norm. So I went to the London School of Economics to get my degree with the intention of coming back to Jamaica, but my parents wanted me to get some more experience abroad, and I agreed, so I stayed in London. I knew I never wanted to be a lawyer — that was never my intention — and I ended up a job at a startup. It was an online music-licensing startup. Their vision was to streamline [a] process [through] which commercial buyers of music could easily find music and clear the copyright online. I was completely fascinated by the space and the energy of startup life. I found my own in a startup. I loved the freedom to be disruptive, to create something, and pursue your vision no matter how crazy it might seem. I think I knew at that point that I wanted to have my own startup, and it was really a matter of what that was going to be…When I left, I went into consulting to learn a lot about process management sales, and while I was doing that, I was toying with a couple of ideas. It wasn’t until I had the idea for Lulu that I really felt that I could embrace it because I could understand it. And I really got going from there.TSD: How did your idea to create Lulu get off the ground?
AC: Once I had the idea for Lulu, which was back a few years ago, I had to raise money. At the time, I was working as head of PR and Marketing for UpStream, which is a mobile marketing company. At the time, I was kind of using half my salary, and I was basically moonlighting: Upstream by day, Lulu by night. I would send half my salary to an agency here in London called Glow Labs, and with Glow Labs, we built the first prototype of Lulu. I finally realized that if I didn’t jump out of the plane and build my parachute on the way down, I wouldn’t start anything because it was too difficult to start something and work for a company at the same time. So finally I quit, and my boss — who was also the CEO of my company — gave me my first $150K. When I told him the idea, he was like “I love it — here’s your first investment,” and then I raised a bit more money, and then I raised a million dollars. Then I hired my first developers, and then we started to work on the site. The idea was always to build a destination place for women where they could communicate with their best friends as well as other women and kind of tap into collective wisdom. It was really about empowerment, and the website had this one particular feature called Wiki Date where women could review their dates and share this information with their girlfriends through this database of guys. We had a lot of…interest in the product we were building, and it was kind of coined [as] “Sex and the City” meets Facebook. It was very powerful, given the fact that women are very dominant on these social platforms, but there are very few women who are actually building these products for other women, so it was unique in that sense.TSD: What did you learn from building this product?
AC: I think what we learnt from that is, number one, when you’re launching a social platform, it has to have relevance for users. So what happened to us is we got a lot of excitement globally around the website, but that meant that several thousand girls would jump on the website one day when we’d be featured in the press in India, and then the next day, girls from France would hear about us on the news, and they’d see all these Indian girls and boys and it would not really have relevance [to them]. We knew that we needed to focus on a targeted marketing launch, so that’s why we decided we needed to focus on colleges in the U.S., going school by school. We also knew that mobile was really important, and a lot of users were like, “We needed to use this on our phones!” [Mobile] was a clear direction that our target demographic — young women age 18 to 24 — needed: an on-the-go tool that they could use to share and tap into collectivism with their friends. Lastly, we learned to pare down the product to the [the] most sought-after feature. Girls really seemed to covet the ability to write reviews of guys they know and share these reviews with other girls in this sort of girls-only private space where they felt comfortable doing that. We just kind of decided that we would take that product and build something simple, something very straightforward, and to grow the company that way.TSD: When did you officially launch the app?
AC: We just launched, and as I mentioned, our focus is to go into colleges in the U.S. and go college by college with girls in these communities. We started doing that early this year when we did our early betas at University of Florida and Florida State University. We got a lot of support from the Greek community at these schools, and we kind of went into our full launch from there. We have slowly now decided to go into more schools across the U.S. We’ve gone into USC in California, University of Arizona, University of Kentucky, and then it spreads by word of mouth to colleges outside of this bubble. Hopefully we’ll be at Stanford!TSD: You’ve also launched an application for guys to control their reviews called Lulu Dude, correct?
AC: We’ve had a lot of interest from boys since launching. Actually, every three people that register to Lulu, we have at least one boy trying to get in. Guys go to [extremes] to get on Lulu — they create fake female accounts on Facebook, they go at it from every angle. Obviously they want to know if they’re on Lulu. We felt that it was important to harness the energy that they were throwing at the platform, but also that they had a place on Lulu too where they could manage their own profiles, and if they’re not on Lulu already, they can put themselves out there to be discovered by girls. On Lulu Dude, guys can put their best faces forward on Lulu, so they can change their profile pictures, they can add their own personal hashtags about themselves, they can tell a girl what their turn-ons and turn-offs are, they can change their relationship status, and, at the same time, we give them a hint of how they’re performing on Lulu. If a girl does a review of them and they score high in one of the categories, they get a trophy, so it gives them a sense of how they’re doing. We launched it in a mobile web version, and the response has been so good that we decided to create an app for it, and that will be launching soon. And certainly with Lulu Dude, if a guy decides he doesn’t want to be on Lulu, he can remove himself.TSD: One question that has come up a lot when talking with my girl friends is whether or not the app is derogatory towards men. Do you think that Lulu is ultimately a positive social experience, or is it simply a means for women to exact revenge on guys that have wronged them?
AC: You’ve got to understand why [Lulu] was created in the first place. Valentine’s Day, several years ago, I had a great date and wanted to share this experience with my friends, but ultimately he wasn’t the guy for me, and I wanted to share this with other people, and there was nowhere to share this experience. We do this in real life, but there’s nowhere on mobile technology that allows us to really harness this experience. Ultimately, Lulu is controversial. There are people that love Lulu, and there are people that hate Lulu. We believe that the controversy is certainly an element of our success so far. All kind of truly successful breakout products and services have to be somewhat controversial or — how the industry calls them — disruptive, because the disruptive and controversial products are what challenges us and pushes our boundaries. Think back to the early years of Facebook — facemash, tagging, poking. When these features were launched they were very controversial. You know, many people wag their tongues and talk bitterly about them, but they were the things that made the company different, made Facebook innovative. Now tagging is completely normal. What we’re doing is allowing girls who do this anyway — they Google the guys they like and are interested in, they Facebook search them — and we’re just kind of recreating that in a different experience. I think successful companies must challenge the norm and buck conventional thinking to achieve true innovation.TSD: What has been the general response to Lulu among the college campuses you’ve visited?
AC: So far phenomenal, actually. All of the college campuses that we have an active program in, we penetrate probably about 35 to 40 percent of the female population. They join Lulu in the first couple weeks of entering the college campus, and then at least 60 percent of the guys are on Lulu after we enter these communities. So among those that speak against Lulu, you actually see that they’re quite active users of it.TSD: Did you intend for Lulu to be used as a serious ratings system or more of a fun, light-hearted activity?
AC: I think we wanted to start with something that was fun. I think the activity is a fun activity. But we wanted to make sure that it was informative, that there was enough breadth and room to be informative. You know, often people that write about Lulu, they say that it is all about sex and looks, and that’s not the case. We try to update almost daily with hashtags that users give us. At the same time, we still want Lulu to be a fun place, not a vindictive place where people can totally trash someone and be really hurtful and mean. It’s still a place that’s fun, lighthearted and informative. I think that ultimately girls don’t want to be in a place that’s bitchy and catty, and they don’t want to be in a place that’s negative. We want to make sure that we set ourselves apart from those websites like College ACB on which you can…write whatever you want about a person and totally trash them publically. On College ACB, you can write whatever you want. All you can do on Lulu is create a review, select hashtags or vote yes or no. That’s how we try to create checks and balances. Another statistic you should know is that over 48 percent of our reviews — and there’s almost half a million now — are actually friends reviewing other friends. A lot of girls see this as a place where they can put their best guy friends and give them a great review.TSD: What do you envision as the future of your product?
AC: We created this as a product for women because we understand them and we feel as though we’re creating a destination mobile site where women can tap into the collective wisdom of one another. We hope to tap into this knowledge not just about guys, but potentially later on about other things that girls have in common or care about, whether that’s careers or health or fashion. [This is] something that they can tap into and learn from each other. [The launch of this Lulu app] is really just sort of the beginning of our journey.