When I started my company, advertising on Facebook was never the plan. As a solo, female founder, and a longtime women-in-tech advocate, I wanted to build a company that operated with feminist values. Our culture was open and collaborative, our structure was flat, and communication with our community was authentic and transparent.
Even before last week’s massive antitrust lawsuit filed by the FTC and 46 States against the company, Facebook represented everything I found toxic about tech culture. The lack of transparency around privacy, the frequent exploitation of data, acceptance of harmful content, and addictive design despite how emotionally harmful it’s proven to be. Their tolerance around white supremacists, QAnon, and other hate group postings in this current election cycle was nearly unbelievable. Few female founders get access to venture money and the last thing I wanted to do was throw mine at Facebook. I was confident enough, or maybe just naive enough, to believe I could avoid their reign.
Instead, we started out by growing organically. My company, Chorus, is a dating app where friends swipe for friends. The idea was catchy enough and my network strong enough that we hit the ground running. Our user base was loyal and engaged. We gained traction through events and word-of-mouth. It wasn’t “hockey stick” growth, per se, but it was a steady start and our users were both loyal and engaged.
How I Learned to Stop Hating Video Dating
Lots of things are bad right now. But dating in pajama pants is not one of them.
But a few months after launch, the pandemic hit. Our events — our biggest growth driver — came to a halt; public flyers were all but useless. We launched virtual speed dating and other online gatherings that built buzz, but amidst the onslaught of Zoom happenings, it was hard to keep people’s attention on a sustained basis. Growth slowed, new ideas waned, and online…