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TikTok-style dating app aims to compete with Tinder, Bumble

Lolly Co-Founder and CEO Marc Baghadjian joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the Lolly app and how it aims to transform dating with a Tiktok-style interface as well as compete with veterans Tinder and Bumble.

Video Transcript

BRIAN CHEUNG: A startup aspires to mash up TikTok with Tinder. Lolly is a new app using short video formats to get Gen Zers to find their bae. The app has backing from the likes of SB Angel-- I wrote that-- SB Angel and SoFi co-founder Daniel Macklin. Joining us to discuss the app and kind of how it works is Lolly co-founder and CEO, Marc Baghadjian.

Marc, it's great to have you on the program. Hey, I want to just take an overview over exactly what the app is. I'm an app user. I'm mostly using Hinge. Give us the lowdown on exactly how this app is different from the offerings that are already out there.

MARC BAGHADJIAN: Yeah, great. So, just to start off, from the inception of how you build these experiences, you want them to be as authentic as possible. And photo doesn't really do that. So we decided to make, like, a video-first platform, feed-driven, video-first, and really just innovate on all the things that our generation wants. So we want to be able to express ourselves, and we want to be able to be funny, and we want to be talented. We want to tell our stories. I'm on the wrong side of 5'10, so I need-- like, I need a video to, like, sell myself. Otherwise, it just doesn't work.

So, feed-driven. Profile has lots of prompts that are integrated to it. We actually have a grading system on videos that actually tells you how well your videos are doing in our feed. It's a pretty novel way of approaching dating that kind of repudiates the old Bumble, Tinder backdrop.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Marc, wait, can you just clarify? So is this, like, a swipe left, swipe right situation? I understand that there's something called clapping, where you can kind of clap and also kind of just, like--


BRIAN CHEUNG: --interact there.

MARC BAGHADJIAN: In our earlier versions, we had clapping. This is literally just a feed. It's just like a TikTok feed. But instead of it being for you to, like, entertain people, it's just you, like, with your funny videos of you with your friends at a bar, or you saying-- or you doing anything, right? The whole point is that it's just videos of you in this pretty linear feed. And you just swipe down, just like you would on a TikTok. It's really engaging. It's in a form that's pretty familiar for our generation at this point, right?

If you look at a lot of the incumbents, Instagram, Snapchat, they've pretty much built these feed-driven experiences that are just, like, pretty linear feeds now overnight with the TikTok success, right? And so we kind of are trying to be that incumbent in the dating space. We see this as the next major innovation. 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, but you can actually [INAUDIBLE].

BRIAN CHEUNG: If you are an attractive person, yeah.

AKIKO FUJITA: You can still be attractive. Marc, I want to know what's in your video. Well, I mean, how do you get people--

MARC BAGHADJIAN: Yeah, so my video, it's actually pretty fun. It's me and all my boys, my best friends from college, in a dorm room, listening to, like, the Black Eyed Peas, which is kind of a throwback. It's a crazy throwback. But, like, we're all just, like, singing, I got a feeling. And this was, like, on my profile, and I can't tell you the amount of girls that will like on my video and be like, Black Eyed Peas, hilarious. Like, that's what it is, right? Me telling my story. I have some videos of me cooking, just because, like, I'm a great chef. My family doesn't think so, but I think I'm a great chef.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Dude, and you flex--

MARC BAGHADJIAN: But that's really--

BRIAN CHEUNG: And you flex that it's your app, too, right, somewhere on there. You've got to have, like--

MARC BAGHADJIAN: No, I don't. No, I don't tell anyone. No, no, you have to be careful with those things in tech, yeah.

BRIAN CHEUNG: A humble guy, of course, of course. I wanted to ask, though, I mean, give us an overview about what your numbers look like right now. Do you have kind of a user base? And, yeah.

MARC BAGHADJIAN: Yeah, just kind of paint the picture, we raised $2 and 1/2 million from some of the best investors in Silicon Valley. 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. Really, Silicon Valley was betting on us to build the first video-first experience, right? An authentic experience that's frictionless. So we raised a couple of million dollars from my dorm room at Babson College-- shoutout, Babson. And we got building.

Millions of videos are watched on the platform a week. So, like, we have little YouTube, right? 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. I mean, if you look at Bumble stock, it IPO'ed at, like, $80, right, back in the day, and now it's at $27, right? They need to innovate.

I think all the players are very carefully looking at us in this space, and we're charting right now. I mean, if you look at us, our dorm room app is charting on the App Store. Our ratings are pretty high. We're super fortunate to be in the place that we are. And from the conversations that I have had with incumbents, you know, I have had some conversations to just kind of gauge things out, see how they're thinking about things. You know, I know that we're in their strategy decks. I know that they're talking about us. It's exciting.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, Marc, you get the sense that, increasingly, the space is going to be more fragmented with a very specific focus on specific demographics. But you mentioned some of the big investors that you've got backing your company. And we keep hearing about how some of the slowdown that we're seeing in the public markets is trickling over into the private markets, too. What are you seeing on that side? And are you concerned about funding slowing down?

MARC BAGHADJIAN: No, not at all. It's unaffected for growth stage. It's super affected for growth stage companies, but sort of earlier companies like mine, unaffected, right? If you hit the benchmarks, if you have good numbers raising money, it's pretty easy, right? If you have a good product. Most founders, I think there was this misconception. Raising money sucks if you don't have product market fit, right? Because then you're just sitting on $20 million, and you want to give the money back, but you've got to keep building.

If you're early enough, it's not unaffected by the market collapse. Actually, the best asset class to be in is venture, is the angel investing in great companies early stage, right? A, B, all those guys got slaughtered. And I mean, if you look at a lot of these big companies, all their stocks got shredded. But early stage, we're actually unaffected. I tell all of my portfolio companies, it doesn't matter. Don't listen to all this noise. Just build a great product. And if people start using it, right, these incumbents are going to look at you to innovate to get that stock price up.

BRIAN CHEUNG: All right, by the way, did I get your last name right at the top?

MARC BAGHADJIAN: Yeah, yeah, you did, you did, you did.

BRIAN CHEUNG: OK, I just want to make sure I nailed that. Marc Baghadjian, Lolly co-founder and CEO, thanks again for jumping on the show. I'll have to get a video of me and the boys for my own profile.

MARC BAGHADJIAN: You guys are the best.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

MARC BAGHADJIAN: Great to meet you both. Thank you, Brian.