Cover art for podcast Social Entrepreneur

Social Entrepreneur

290 EpisodesProduced by Tony Loyd: Business executive and mentor to social entrepreneursWebsite

Social Entrepreneur exists at the intersection of profit and purpose. We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.

24:01

This App Launched a Female Solidarity Movement, with Aine Mulloy, GirlCrew

GirlCrew is a social networking app for women to make new friends.

It seems that female solidarity has never been more important. Women still struggle to gain meaningful power over their lives and choices. One in five women will experience violence at the hand of their intimate partner. Systemic gender discrimination still exists. Even though women make up 50.8% of the US population, only 39% of all managerial roles are held by women. When it comes to CEO positions, only 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies are run by women.

Aine Mulloy of GirlCrew was born for a time like this. “It has always been important to me to be part of something that is bigger than myself, a company that people feel attached to, and one that is making a positive change somehow.”

Aine participated in her first protest around the age of four. “We staged a protest outside our house, demanding our parents read more of our favorite bedtime story. We wrote out placards attached to broom handles and chanted as we marched around the garden in pajamas and wellies. Unfortunately, our grasp of writing wasn’t the best, and our signs read ‘We wont more!’ But it did work. It was one of my first tastes of social activism, albeit on a small scale.”

When Aine co-founded GirlCrew, she knew she had found like-minded women. “I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many inspiring, brave, and tenacious women through GirlCrew, and I can only hope one day someone may say the same about me. Maybe it’s because I’ve four younger siblings, but I truly believe people have a responsibility to do good, share wisdom, and help one another where and when you can.”

GirlCrew is solving a frequent problem for millions of women worldwide. “It can be really hard to make new friends as an adult, especially if you have moved to a new city or country,” Aine explains.

“GirlCrew is aimed at women looking to make new friends, either because they have moved to a new city or country, or because they have found themselves at a different life stage to their friends. Their friends might be settling down, getting married and having children, but they aren’t. The majority of GirlCrew’s members are women aged 25-40.”

It Started With a Tinder Hack

GirlCrew got its start when one of the company’s co-founders, Elva Carri, used Tinder in an unusual way. Aine tells the story. “One Friday night Elva was staying in because although there was a club night she wanted to go to, she didn't want to go solo and all her friends were either busy or tired. So, she 'hacked' Tinder. She changed her gender setting to male so that her profile would show up to all the other single girls in Dublin where she lives. She put up a profile picture explaining she was actually female and not looking for dates but just looking for some people to go out dancing with. She thought people would think she was crazy but did it anyway. Within 24 hours she had over 100 enthusiastic matches, and GirlCrew grew from there.”

Elva knew she was going to need help, so she teamed up with Aine and Pamela Newenham. The three co-founders began growing GirlCrew groups in cities all over the world.

GirlCrew raised funding from private investors as well as the Irish government state agency Enterprise Ireland. GirlCrew makes money through events, partnerships, and subscriptions. They have a premium subscription offering. Premium members get four hosted events per month, as well as various discounts and their own private group. GirlCrew organizes careers events called GirlCrew Pro, and entrepreneur dinners called the Female Founders Supper Club. They have also built partnerships with major corporations. “Microsoft is our main partner for GirlCrew Pro, and Dell EMC is our main partner for the Female Founders Supper Club,” Aine explains.

They Didn’t Always Get It Right

Like any startup, GirlCrew didn’t always get it right. “We initially outsourced the development of our app which was a big mistake” Aine describes. “Thankfully we got an amazing technical advisor on board, who was able to guide us through everything. We had to start over from scratch again, but we did it and brought development in-house. Without our tech advisor, we wouldn’t have known if the developers we interviewed were bluffing and made things up. We might have made some more costly decisions.”

They also experimented with dividing larger groups into smaller groups. “We divided London into East London, South London, North London, West London and Central London.” That did not work out. They learned to keep the city-wide groups together while maintaining positive conversations. They’ve had to learn to be strict about their guidelines, which include respect for others.

Here’s what Aine has learned. “Move fast. Speed is the key to start-up success. You need to have a clear vision of where you’re going, and you need to get there quickly. There’s a phrase in the start-up world which feeds into this, and its ‘done is better than perfect.’ You can always iterate later.”

Growing GirlCrew

GirlCrew is growing rapidly. They have chapters in over fifty cities worldwide and are adding more. For those who are in a location that does not have a local GirlCrew, they also have topic groups such as Trips & Travel, Careers, and Entrepreneurs. “Ultimately, we don't want any woman to have to be stuck home alone on a Friday night if they want to go out,” Aine says. “We want women everywhere to have a community behind them, and to be able to get support, advice, and recommendations easily from a trusted source.”

Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Aine Mulloy

“It’s incredible to see women come together and banding together.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“There’s the idea of a rising water lifts all boats.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“People felt that they can’t speak up, or when they did, their voices weren’t heard.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“I don’t know if all social media is actually social.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“GirlCrew helps that online-offline piece.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“People find housemates through us. They find jobs through us.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“It’s truly social beyond just sharing, sharing, sharing.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“Any member can create and host an event.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“You’re not relying on someone else to do things for you.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“The sky’s the limit in terms of what people want to do.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“Tinder is not the first place you might think of when you’re thinking of female empowerment.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“It just really snowballed from there.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“It grew initially very organically.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“Whatever you put in, you’ll get it back ten-fold.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“We were growing GirlCrew as well as having our full-time jobs.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“She met our co-founder, Pamela at an entrepreneur summit.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“The three of us squirreled ourselves away and developed our first business plan.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“It was a lot of people telling their friends about it.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“We played a couple of pranks along the way.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“We’re slightly different to anything else out there at the moment.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“It’s one of those ideas that people seem to love.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“We need to get to scale as quickly as we can.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“We mapped out city by city.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“The best thing is seeing how much the community has helped one another.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“To me, it’s the small things that are proof that people are willing to help one another.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

“It’s great to see that we’ve created something that is positive.” @AineMulloy, @GirlCrewHQ

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