Controversial German dating app Ohlala has just landed in the United States, after raising $1.7m in seed funding from a number of investors.
The instant paid dating service is now available to use in New York City, 10 months after launching in Berlin back in August 2015.
Ohlala’s approach to creating matches – where men offer to pay for dates, and female users accept offers they are interested in – has created some controversy, and has seen the app labelled as an on-demand escort service.
This is also because some of Ohlala’s features bear a likeness to escort services, such as requiring its users to be at least 21 to sign up.
Another reason for its reputation is that its founder, Pia Poppenreiter, previously worked on Peppr, an app designed to directly connect clients to prostitutes and providers of “erotic entertainment”.
But Poppenreiter recently expressed her “surprise” that Ohlala is being labelled as an escort service, insisting the app was simply created to shorten the “time and difficulty it takes to get an actual date online”.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said: “I’m actually surprised that the term escort is being used. The payment aspect is just the mechanism that is being used for this particular service.
“Obviously we would never promote illegal activity and what happens in private once the date is arranged is up to the two adults.
“They could be meeting for dinner, drinks or just coffee – it’s completely up to them.”
Ohlala Enters US
The “uber for escorts” service is now fully operational in New York, in a move that sees the app expand outside of Germany for the first time.
To help with its US expansion, the app secured $1.7m in funding from various backers, including Oliver Samwer’s former co-founding partner Max Finger.
Other investors also include Ben Kubota and Markus Ertler.
Since its preliminary launch in Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich, the service has arranged more than 25,000 paid dates across the country.
And this week, Ohlala is growing its presence in Germany even more, launching in Stuttgart, Cologne and Dusseldorf.
How it works
To use the app, individuals are required to create a profile, which is then authorised by the app’s team using an identity verification process.
Once verified, male users are able to fill out “date requests”, outlining personal specifications like their preferred time and price range.
The date requests are then sent out to all active female users, and they have just 21 minutes to reply, in-keeping with the app’s focus on facilitating an “instant dating experience”.
Female users can then choose to accept or decline a request, however if they accept, the two users will be able to chat privately to arrange further details of the date.
As soon as the pair agree on the terms of the date, Ohlala accepts the date by logging the parameters of the meeting.
Users can then continue their conversation offline, and meet up under the arranged terms.
You can create a profile on the app now here.