Paul English and Rachel Cohen met on a dating app four years ago. English was in New York, where Cohen was living. They matched on Bumble, messaged a few times, and decided to meet up at Sant Ambroeus, a restaurant in the West Village.
One of the reasons they hit it off, they said, is because they actually went out — as opposed to messaging forever or until the communication fizzled.
Showing up is the most important part of starting an in-person relationship, according to English and Cohen. Some people would rather swipe and send messages without any real action, which can be frustrating for those actually looking to schedule dates.
That’s why English, who cofounded the travel site Kayak.com in 2004, and Cohen, who’s worked in human resources for fashion and luxury brands like David Yurman and Diptyque Paris, have developed a dating app that pairs people based on their availability to go out that week. Lola Dating — a project under English’s Boston Venture Studio — should be available in the app store on Friday. People can already sign up to be members on the app’s website. English and Cohen expect the app to launch in December.
“Ever since we met,” Cohen said, “we have been talking about dating apps and what the issues have been. There’s a lot of chatting and ghosting frustrations. People have these long chats, and they never end up going out. I think after COVID ... people are going back to wanting camaraderie, conversation, and having meals with each other.”
Cohen explained that when the app launches, users will be offered possible matches based on when they can go on dates.
“You’d have a calendar for the next four days,” she said. The person on the other side would have a calendar for the next four days, and then it only matches you with people available on the same night as you.”
English said that of course people have to cancel plans now and then. But if it becomes routine — if a member continues to cancel and message without any commitment to gather — they’ll be kicked off. The app will also feature a review component where people can kindly and anonymously share why a person wasn’t a match, if it seems helpful.
“Maybe you talked about your ex too much,” Cohen said. “Maybe you were rude to the waitstaff, didn’t offer to pay, or wore too much fragrance.” She said it’s designed for people to get “feedback for things that can actually change.”
English said he knows the concept won’t be for everyone, and that it’s OK that some people want to spend more time talking before a real date. Those people can use other apps.
“Loads of people want to go out this week, he said. “If you just want to chat, we highly recommend Tinder. Bumble is a great app for chatting. We’re basically saying, if you’re just doing this for entertainment and chatting and flirting, that’s not for us. That’s not our community.”
English said they haven’t made final decisions about a pricing model, but that it will be tiered similarly to Bumble and Tinder. The name Lola, they added, came from previous businesses. English had wanted to use the name Lola for Kayak. Lola, he said, was a combination of “longitude” and “latitude.” Later, he launched a travel company with the Lola name; it was bought by Capital One in 2021.
Longitude and latitude also apply to the new app, which asks people to show up to a location, but Cohen also sees Lola as a shortcut for “love language.”
Right now, the couple’s goal is to get people to sign up so there’s a pool of daters ready to go out when Lola launches.
“We have founders of Hinge, The League, and Tinder as three of our advisors,” English said. “What they told us is to launch in a city the size of Boston, we should try to get about 5,000 people on the waitlist.”
They didn’t say how many names are registered now, but they said to look out for recruiting events — and that people can sign up on the app or the app’s website, Lola.com.