Ladies First highlights women and girls who are making the world better for the rest of us.
Everyone knows that when you’re starting your own business, it’s your network that can help answer questions about how to do your taxes or find a designer. It’s also your network that can help introduce you to your very next client. While many women turn to websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to build their professional networks online, Janete Perez, a former product manager for Facebook and Microsoft, noticed that these platforms were missing something.
Perez remembered moving to San Francisco from Seattle in 2011, and the difficulties she faced meeting like-minded women who wanted to form IRL professional and personal connections. Rather than lament her struggle, she used her experience to create a space wholly dedicated to people like her who wanted a supportive community with similar individuals. Thus, the idea for her women-only networking app Present (available on iOS and Android!) was born.
The app, which was launched in beta last November, works in a similar nature to Tinder in that it relies on geographic proximity to match users to other users. Unlike Tinder, users connect with one another to share personal and professional interests and build trust with one another. They have also built a space where users can share upcoming events, shout out local women-owned businesses, and chat with the women they’re connected to.
“My team and I realized that existing social networks aren’t designed for women first,” Perez told us. “We believe Present is uniquely positioned to help bring women together to collectively feel empowered, share their stories, and create positive changes in their communities.” To date, the app has launched in eight cities including San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and St. Louis.
Perez has observed that, for many women, fostering real-life connections outside of the workplace can take a backseat to pursuing other personal goals. But now more than ever, Perez believes it is important that women stick together and support one another.
“There’s a lack of genuine support in a variety of professional industries and this world is filled with amazing women entrepreneurs,” she said. “Finding strong women mentors and role models is such an important part of helping us reach our career goals.”
In the months since the app has launched, Perez has received positive feedback from everyone from community leaders to business owners who have shared stories about how they’ve made new friendships with women they’ve met through Present. As the app’s users base continues to grow, Perez hopes to expand into more cities to connect more women in 2018. Until then, she and her team will continue to add more features that make Present meaningful and worthwhile — hopefully, to keep building a brighter future for women across America.