Following the rise of TikTok, Lolly CEO Marc Baghadjian is looking to revolutionize online dating and compete with long-time industry leaders Match (MTCH), Tinder, and Bumble (BMBL). The app combines social media and dating into one video-driven feed.
“It's just like a TikTok feed,” Lolly CEO Marc Baghadajian told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “Video is just so much more obvious because you can actually be funny and be talented. You could still be attractive, just like you would with photo.”
According to the company, the idea for the app came about in response to frustration that existing dating services weren't offering features that Gen Z wanted.
"It's a pretty novel way of approaching dating that kind of repudiates the old Bumble, Tinder backdrop,” Baghadjian added. “It's like a little YouTube experience. We have a mini TikTok. And the incumbents are watching us pretty closely. I think Tinder, Bumble, Match Group can actually take a look at some of the things that we're doing.”
Founded in Baghadjian's dorm room when he was a senior at Babson College, Lolly has managed to attract some major Silicon Valley investors. Baghadjian and his co-founder Sacha Schermerhorn have raised more than $2.5 million so far from investors including former Apple CEO John Sculley and John Pleasants, the former president of Match Group's parent company.
“We raised $2.5 million from some of the best investors in Silicon Valley," Baghadajian said. "The godfather of Silicon Valley, Ron Conway, jumped in and a bunch of other fantastic angels jumped in — VC firms. Really grateful for all the participation that we had."
Because the company is still so early in its growth, he noted that funding hasn't been affected by recent market volatility.
Meanwhile, the TikTok formula appears to be working. According to Baghadjian, the app has garnered millions of views and now ranks well on the App Store.
While the traditional online dating interface might not be going anywhere, the CEO is convinced that Lolly's differentiated dating app is turning heads at competitors.
"I mean, if you look at Bumble stock, it IPOed at, like, $80 back in the day, and now it's at $27, right? They need to innovate," Baghadajian said. "I have had some conversations to just kind of gauge things out, see how they're thinking about things. I know that we're in their strategy decks. I know that they're talking about us. It's exciting."
Edwin is a producer for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter @Edwin__Roman.