Grnd Her? Wing Ma’am App Brings Social Networking to Lesbians

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday Oct 23, 2013

For too long, gay men have ruled the location based social networking scene with apps like Grndr, GROWLr and BoyAhoy. But now, Ariella Furman and Dana Custer are bringing lesbians together for fun, flirting and friendship via Wing Ma'am, a new social networking app for women.

"My best gay was using Grndr, and I asked him if there was such a thing for women. He said no," said Furman, Wing Ma'am's CEO. "That's sort of where the idea came from. I felt jealous that the guys had it better than us. I thought, it shouldn't be that way."

Furman had moved to Pittsburgh from a larger city and found it was hard to connect with the LGBT community. She was very isolated, and decided to start a monthly lesbian party which drew 4,000 people, she said. Inspired by its success, she decided she wanted to step it up.

She had met Custer through an online dating site, where both discovered that they were using these dating apps to find friends. They knew there had to be a better way for lesbians to connect. So they created Wing Ma'am.

"It was made for both friendship and hooking up," said Wing Ma'am Director of Operations Custer. "We want people in relationships to feel like they are part of the community. They don't have to drop off the map; they can still find events and friendships. There is even an option for double dating."

Like Grndr, the GPS technologies inform women of users nearby. The app can help women of all walks (there are 13 different identity options to choose from) connect with other women for dating and sex, or just for friendship. It allows users to chat with like-minded individuals, to share info and to post notices of parties or other events to their calendar and RSVP to those events. The creators hope that it will also help investors see lesbians, bisexuals and transwomen as a visible population, worth their time and money.

The women added Social Media Manager Laura Kingsbury and intern Ellie Gordon to their office team, which was recently accepted by Pittsburgh business accelerator Alpha Lab and given a $25,000 investment -- the first time an LGBT-related business investment received funding in that area. Furman’s partner signed on, and with their five-person team located in an office with eight other start-ups, they were spurred forward to complete the mobile app development in time to launch this November.

"Neither of us have a tech background, but we worked with outsourced developers and a team of people to make our app," said Furman. "We have identified three sources of revenue, and we want the app to be free and available for everyone. If we do have to monetize it, we could offer a paid model with cool features that free users won’t get. The other way is to run ads."

So far, the app has attracted 3,600 sign-ups from across the U.S. and as far away as Saudi Arabia and Russia, said the women, adding that it is particularly popular on Facebook and Tumblr, with many people sharing the link.

"The whole idea is that you can find lesbians everywhere, that the community is fragmented and we want to bring it together," said Furman. "It’s more than just an app, it’s a social guide book."

For more information, visit http://www.wingmaam.com

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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