Being a new parent can become an isolating experience, where you’re thrust into a world of playdates over happy hours – a change that can lead to dwindling time spent with friends who share a different schedule and set of priorities. A new app called Peanut, now available on iOS, wants to help. The app connects moms with others like them, who are nearby and interested in hanging out.
Yes, it’s sort of like a Tinder for mom friendships.
The comparison is apt, given that one of Peanut’s co-founders, Michelle Kennedy, has a wealth of experience from the world of dating apps.
Kennedy spent six years at online dating company Badoo, where she worked as General Council and later deputy CEO. She also was involved with the creation of dating app, Bumble – where Badoo is a majority shareholder – advising Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe, and serving on Bumble’s board.
Peanut’s other co-founder (and parent), Greg Orlowski, is also familiar with the world of startups, having previously worked as Deliveroo co-founder and former CTO. He left the role last year, and now works in Chicago. Kennedy, meanwhile, is based in London, and the company also has staff in New York.
An App For Friendships
Using an app to make friends is something major dating apps are now trying to expand into, including with Bumble’s BFF feature and Tinder Social.
Like dating apps, Peanut uses a swiping mechanism to connect potential friends – a swipe up will give the other mom a wave, and a swipe down lets you skip their profile. But instead of playing the hot-or-not game, as on Tinder, Peanut focuses on helping users find others with shared interests. This may include things like what languages they speak, or if they work full-time, whether they’re an outdoorsy type, and more.
It also displays the age of the children, so you can work to find playdates.
Users’ personal attributes are simply buttons you pick from during sign-up, and written in less stuffy language like “mom boss,” “fitness fiend,” “fashion killa,” for example. You can also go into your profile to add or remove these descriptions, if you choose.
On the face of it, matching people on interests seems to make sense – if you love shopping and relaxing more than hiking or dancing, you probably want to meet more moms like you. If you work full-time and are always scrambling, you may have troubling connecting with stay-at-home types who spend their days making their own baby food.
But this interest-based matching could, in turn, have an isolating effect – keeping friendships constrained to socio-economic bubbles where diversity is lacking. And this comes at a time when people need to better understand each others’ differences. As the political landscape has shown, we’re failing at that.
Having friends who think differently can be challenging, but also illuminating. Kennedy disagrees, coming down more on the side of connecting with people like yourself.
“I actually think the political climate right now demonstrates the need to hang out and need to connect with women are like-minded and share your values, more than ever,” she says. “If I can make that part a little easier, then that’s a good thing.”
A parent herself, Kennedy understands the difficulties in establishing female friendships after motherhood, having gone through the transition herself few years ago with the birth of her son.
She found that many of the mom communities today are still a bit “old-fashioned” – often websites, not apps, or online forums. Even Facebook groups, where many moms congregate today, are like a modern take on forums, and not necessarily a place to make close friends.
There have been a few newcomers to this space, including UK-based Mush or San Francisco-based Winnie, for example. But Mush has not had pickup stateside, and Winnie is focused on being a Yelp for moms, more than a social community. In other words, there’s still room for an app like Peanut to carve out its niche.
The app itself is simple to use, and has a clean, modern design. Nothing takes more than one hand to do, including sign-up, swiping, or arranging meetups with other moms.
Unlike on dating apps, where you can end up in go-nowhere chat sessions, Peanut’s goal is to get moms to connect in the real world. When two moms match, you can start a chat right from the match screen.
You can also create a group chat in the app, where you’re able to suggest an activity and poll the others for a preferred time. When the poll wraps, you can tap to turn the poll into an invite and another tap adds it to your calendar.
Now live, the challenge for Peanut will be user adoption. The app essentially requires users to seed the app with their friends, if outside of one of the large metros. And many busy moms often complain they don’t want to install another app, so Peanut has its work cut out.
But the team has enough runway to give it a shot, thanks to a larger-than-planned (but still undisclosed) seed round from NEA, Felix Capital, Partech, and other angel investors.
Peanut is available today on iOS as a free download. The app is currently in beta with version 1.0 planned for Wednesday.