Two years ago, Humaira Ahmed, the founder of Locelle Digital Inc., struggled to make meaningful connections while she was on maternity leave with her second daughter. As a driven entrepreneur, she wanted to meet other ambitious, hard-working women. But she had trouble finding them.
“I realized that meeting like-minded women easily is a challenge,” says Ahmed. “Not everyone is an extrovert, meet-ups can be hard and intimidating, and other online platforms aren’t always successful.”
Personal experiences, and the fact that feelings of loneliness and isolation are known to be increasingly problematic, Ahmed began thinking of what a women-only social networking platform would look like and how it could make forming meaningful friendships a little easier.
Ahmed began working on a women-only social networking platform in late fall 2017. In February 2018, she incorporated Locelle Digital Inc.
What is Locelle?
Locelle is a women-only social networking platform founded by Victoria-based entrepreneur Humaira Ahmed. Simply, it aims to make meeting like-minded women way easier.
The name is a combination of “local” and “elle,” the feminine third person noun in French. The app is totally local, made by a team of three Victoria-based individuals: Ahmed, her husband David Thompson and Jason Scharf.
What Makes Locelle Different?
Similar apps do exist, but Locelle is different in its origins, user experience and technology.
Unlike Tinder and Bumble, Locelle has nothing to do with dating. And while Bumble recently launched BumbleBFF specifically for finding female friendships and Tinder invested in HEY! VINA, also a female-only social networking app, Ahmed believes Locelle is different because of where it has started. Locelle is a totally independent player in the world of social networking apps, entirely separate from any dating platform.
Because of that distance from any existing dating app, its user experience is very different too. Matches aren’t visual-based and there is no swiping to make a match. Ahmed explains that Locelle puts a focus on interest-based connections rather than visual ones, and allows women to schedule their meet-ups within the app. She likens it to Slack in terms of a focus on communication, but then it also offers that connection.
Finally, its technology is unique. Ahmed says what makes Locelle stand out is its Intellectual Property (IP) called Match IQ. This is an algorithm that will find a match based on specific interests, demographic information, location — and most unique to this kind of app — time.
“Time is a big factor [when meeting friends], even with our existing friendships. And often meetings don’t happen because of time!” says Ahmed. “With Locelle for example, you could say that you’re looking for a running buddy on Saturday morning at Dallas Road at 10 a.m. We will find a match based on that interest, demographic, location and that time that works for you.”
What Is Ahmed’s Goal?
While Ahmed’s research shows a desire among women for this product — and Locelle’s recent appearance at the BC Tech Summit saw a 95 per cent conversion rate — Ahmed doesn’t want Locelle to grow too quickly. Right now, testing is the priority to ensure the app’s functionality, design and user experience are all top-notch.
“In the future, I hope Locelle will be in most countries in the world. But first, as this is a location-based platform, I’m focused on Victoria and Vancouver,” says Ahmed. “The goal this year is to expand within Victoria and Vancouver, then next year, expand into Portland, Seattle and down the West Coast. From there, I want to move into Toronto, Ottawa and New York.”
And that’s not to say Ahmed’s innovation intends to be exclusionary to men. She’s starting with a product that addresses an issue she personally experienced and saw a need for.
“Maybe down the road we’d create a male-only platonic networking app,” says Ahmed. “For now though, I need to be focused. But in the future, who knows!”
When Will Locelle Launch?
Next month, Locelle begins its beta wave of testing with a selected group of women in the tech and entrepreneurship fields across British Columbia. This testing will continue during the summer.
The date of the official public launch will be announced later this summer, but the goal is mid-October in time for the West Coast Women’s Expo. Interested users can pre-register for Locelle at locelle.com.
For more information, visit locelle.com.