Interview: Robyn Exton, creator of Her, the social app for gay women

"Stop looking at what other people are doing and start thinking about what's right for you."

Robyn Exton is the creator of Her, a social app for lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender women that does more than find you a date – it gives you a community. In just two years, Robyn has developed her initial concept of a lesbian dating app called DAATCH into Her, now available in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, where not only can you find a date, you can also read articles and find events specific to the queer female community.

Robyn doesn’t only spend her time making her business a massive success, she’s also the contributing tech editor for Elle UK, and part of the core team behind Geek Girl Meetup’s London branch. Geek Girl Meetup is a global community for women interested in tech, code, startups and design that aims to create new rolemodels, networks and active knowledge exchange; as you can imagine, we love this idea.

Hi Robyn. Please introduce yourself!

I’m Robyn, I’m the founder of Her, an app where women meet each other.

What drove you to create Her? Did you have a bad experience with another service, or did you feel like something was missing from the market?

I started working on Her because I was tired of using platforms that didn’t feel relevant or right to me and my friends. There were hundreds of platforms built by men for men, often turned pink for women, and none of them felt relevant or helped me make friends and have conversations with the women I wanted to talk to.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve come up against when making Her a success? What did you learn from it?

Pretty much everything is an obstacle, and they all feel like your biggest challenge based on where you are at that moment in time. Getting our first 5000 users was pretty tough. It took a lot of late nights at clubs and a LOT of talking. I guess the biggest lesson being: be prepared to do absolutely anything required to make this work, no one is going to make this easier for you.

We love the idea behind Geek Girl Meetup. What’s been the most rewarding thing about being involved in the community?

Geek Girl Meetup has been a real passion project. We set it up in the UK because we found it really exciting to hear these super cool women talk about what they had been working on in their companies. It made us leave with this crazy energy and belief that we were going to kill it when we got back to work. So we decided to set up monthly meetups to keep hearing these stories and kept running the annual conference like the Swedish chapters run.

image via weareher.com

How do you find being a woman and working in the tech community?

I think technology has got to be one of the most exciting and inspiring industries to be working in right now. The breadth of industries it moves into, the potential impact it can have, it’s pretty mind blowing. I’m really proud and glad I moved into this industry. There’s always a lot of discussion about the gender disparity, which is absolutely present, with associated pros and cons; the con of the odd sexist remark opposed against the amazing support women can get in this industry. I’m always optimistic about the future, though, as there’s so much discussion around this; change is inevitable.

Have you noticed any differences between the tech communities of San Francisco and London?

There’s a huge difference in terms of the scale of the markets. San Francisco is like London on speed. Bigger ideas, bigger funds, bigger talent pools, bigger egos.

What gadgets/apps can you not live without, how do they make your life easier?

I guess the best way is to look at my home screen – Spotify ( I always work with music on), Slack, Hangouts & Trello (our team is in London and US so these tools save all our team chat), ClassPass – (favourite way to work out!)

If you could give your younger self some advice, what would you say?

Stop looking at what other people are doing and start thinking about what’s right for you. It’s so easy to follow the same path that everyone else is on.

image via twitter

What other careers did you consider? How and why did you go for this one?

I was originally working in branding and marketing, which I really enjoyed. I kind of fell into working in tech. I started working on the app idea for fun and then it started turning into something a lot more than that.

Who’s your role model?

I head Arianna Huffington speak the other day and she was incredible. Her story was fantastic and as well as building one the largest media businesses in the world, she has written 14 books.

What are you most excited about at the moment? (In terms of your career, technology, the future – whatever’s got you fired up)

I think I’m most excited about the possibilities virtual reality has to change how humans communicate. A lot of people feel interaction through a screen has taken something away from our relationships and VR has the potential to bring that back. To bring people back into our sense of reality but without them physically being there. I’m fascinated about how that’s going to feel.

Want to hear more from Robyn, Her, or Geek Girl Meetup? Follow them on Twitter: @robynexton, @HerSocialApp, and @ggmUK.


Main Image via Geek Girl Meetup