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Launch HN: Revel (YC S19) – Community for Women over 50
107 points by lmarrone88 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 74 comments
We're Lisa and Alexa, co-founders of Revel (https://www.hellorevel.com). We help women over 50 build their community by hosting and attending small, local gatherings.

We're two women in our 30s who decided to work on this problem after seeing how important and how challenging it has been for our mothers.

Lisa's mother raised her as a single parent while working as a public school teacher, and that meant that she didn't have much time to focus on her life outside of parenting. When Lisa left for college, her mother retired, and found herself longing for a community of like-minded women, which wasn’t easy. Alexa's mother is similar in need but different in circumstance: she's a physician with a high-powered career and a robust social life, living in a dense urban area, who nonetheless feels that she doesn't know where to turn for genuine connections with women her age.

In the United States alone, there are 50 million women like our mothers. They are a dramatically underserved demographic. We sometimes hear talk of "elder tech" and "silver tech" but our customer is not "the elderly"—she's in her 50s, 60s, or 70s, statistically healthier than ever before, with some disposable income to spend, and she wants to enjoy life alongside women her own age.

How Revel works is that any woman over 50 can sign up to join as a member for $15 a month. As a member, she can then browse our listings of Revel events being hosted by other members in her neighborhood. All of our events are user-generated and any member can apply to host at any time.

We're operating only in the Bay Area for now, but obviously our plan is to expand geographically as soon as it makes sense. Since we launched in late July, we've had hundreds of women sign up as members, and have had dozens of member-hosted gatherings in living rooms and backyard gardens across the Bay Area. If your mother, aunt, or family friend lives nearby, we'd love to meet her!

We'd love to hear your ideas and feedback and questions, and your own experiences in this area!




Your pitch is making an assumption that the hacker news audience is not in your demographic. It reminds me of back in the day when the example incompetent user was "your mother" or "your grandmother". I am a competent grandmother - I have a few thoughts:

1. My friend Jeff Johnson has a book on designing for the older users. "Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population: Towards Universal Design" He lives in San Francisco if you want to contact him. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06WPBK2V4/ref=dbs_a_def_r...

2. The Bay Area seems problematic for this age group because of rising housing prices. My non-technical friends are moving out of the area because they can cash out. My friends who are staying largely are technical or married to someone technical. I would target an area that seniors are moving into and need to meet new people rather than an area where seniors are leaving.

3. I am not sure how this is different than meetup. You would have to sell me to pay $15 a month when meetup is free until you want to host an event. Then it is $10 a month. And young people and men can come!

4. Most women are better at making and keeping friends than men. I actually do regularly hang out with friends that I have collected over the years.

5. I prefer mixed age groups.

6. I prefer mixed genders.


We definitely believe that all of our members are more than competent. Apologies if the tone of our pitch suggested otherwise! We're also aware that the mere fact that someone is a woman over 50 does not make her automatically someone who's interested in Revel. The demographic is a huge and heterogeneous group and Revel serves a need for some who are craving the company of their age group of women.

Will definitely contact Jeff Johnson -- thank you for the tip!


A small suggestion to help with marketing is to make your mothers the face of the company. Right now it appears as if you are doing this for your helpless mothers rather than with your awesome mothers. I am not sure how involved they are but mothers should be on the About page.


I would like the meetup question addressed as well. There are a ton of demographic focused groups on meetup and with a lot more members and active groups.

Granted, Meetup was purchased by wework so who knows where that is going.


Good point about Meetup being purchased by WeWork. Doesn't seem that there's much innovation going on there rn...

We've asked our members why they join us and not Meetup or Facebook groups or other things that are out there. We hear two main answers: 1) there is a lot more trust/safety from this being a group just for women of this age, 2) Revel feels like more of a community, whereas on Meetup so much of the organizational burden falls on the group's one host.


My parents live in an over 55 community in Arizona for half the year and let me tell you: you're fucking smart to be going after this demographic. They've got money, they've got time, they're way healthier and more active than their parents were at the same age.

I'm not sure lack of a community is a problem for my mom - she's way more social than my dad and has no problem making friends. That being said, I'll let her decide for herself whether or not she needs this. I sent her links to this comment thread and your homepage. My mom rules, and if she finds a great friend through your service - well!


(hashtag) Not all women.

My ex has discovered that spending 10 years living with your best friend easily leads to neglecting friendships, and more specifically neglecting to form new ones. She's currently without a local "best mate" to spontaneously hang out with/share with and misses that. I suspect she'd happily pay $15/mo to join a community of similar folk. But it would need to be physically local, if there's no face to face contact it's pretty pointless. Which means it's "like Meetup, but significantly more expensive"... what's the value proposition?

But I suspect there will be a fair bit of churn if the community works, because quite a few people will use it to find friends rather than maintain friendships. Might be worth building that into your financial plans.


Ha, we agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for sharing with your mom -- hoping she finds it intriguing, too!


Curious: why women and not men? I understand why not both. But isn't this -- empirically -- a much worse problem for men?

I know my dad never really had any friends. Luckily, he has 6 brothers and they're kind of close, so that's a decent substitute for friends. But only one of them has any friends. My mom has one brother. He never had any friends -- ever, even as a kid.

On the contrast, my mom has tons of friends. Her 3 sisters have WAY more friends than her. My dad's sisters all have tons of friends. My mom's female friends have tons of friends, too.

I personally don't know any older women who don't have friends. Even my Grandma who was 90 when she died had two friends left around her age! I get the irony here, btw -- if they didn't have friends how would I know them?

Anyway, I could see women wanting more connection with women their age. Who doesn't want more friends? But beside one of my uncles, I literally don't know a single man in that age group that has ANY friends -- regardless of age. And even he only has a few friends, and he's genuinely one of the coolest people I know. It's sad.

Sample size of one. I get it. I know you did your research. Just curious to learn more.

My suspicion is: women might just be more receptive to this kind of thing (which is the reason they actually need it less) because they're a lot more social than men. But I'd like to get your input.


It sounds like they're doing "build a solution for a problem you know".


As a woman over 50... Lots of us don't quite have 20/20 eyesight any more. You might want to give a bit of thought to improving contrast ratio on your page :)


Home page has 32 WCAG "errors" not factoring in the poor contrast ratio. Seems harsh but I'm doing a lot of ADA/WCAG work lately and it's just something you can't "unsee" once you've been exposed to the guidelines.

The code errors themselves are minor, mostly missing alt tags and form labels. It would not take a lot of work to make the home page compliant, besides the color corrections which (always) present difficulty for the designers.


Thank you so much for this feedback. It's really helpful for us to know. If there are other easy things we could do to boost accessibility, please lmk.


Happy to help, I wish you the best of luck. FYI some good tools to measure compliance are:

https://achecker.ca/checker/

https://wave.webaim.org


Any intention of offering the backend as a white label service? With all of the talk about community and social fabric experiencing challenges, I could see a lot of patrons or supporters wanting to spin up their own communities and spaces as a service (myself included), versus putting the time into an open source tool to do so (seriously! just ding my credit card and let me spend time building community instead of code).

Regardless, best of luck. Definitely an underserved market.


Great idea. We honestly hadn't thought of that, but would make a ton of sense down the road. Thank you for your support.


Is there something like this for adult men? (any age, not over 50) I keep reading about how most adult men struggle to form relationships, I have this problem personally just as much as any many I suppose. Seems like something a service would have tried to solve by now.


In Australia and Aotearoa we have the "Men's Shed" movement, because men typically do things together rather than having socialising as their primary goal. Work with our inclinations, not against them :)

What I've found is that I tend to have "deep friendships" that activate when I am with friends, and what counts is remembering to go and visit the friends. Sure, if I need something I will ask and they will do whatever they can, but that's kind of the minimum possible relationship.

It feels a bit weird to message someone and say "I'm taking time off work to visit your city, specifically to hang out with you"... but it works, we both feel better for doing it, and it does actually help if we have something to do while we're together. So last week I went and helped put up a mezzanine in a friend's new factory, then went and helped organise another friend's shed. We also talked a bit about feelings, which is uncomfortable but also useful. And (obviously) a good dose of "I remember that I enjoy hanging out with you".


My thoughts exactly.


What is the difference between this and a 55+ Facebook group with events? It is local, member ran and free.


Many people don't trust facebook for one. I have family members that explicitly decided not to use it, so having a focused product/company around the particular subject may be more enticing.


Mobile app idea: to help the elderly(or anyone) have an always on, quick response, highly versatile, support system. If they need quick help, just want to talk, need help with future planning, need help finding a roomate, or may want to consider other living options, and more. Create an app with a live 24/7 receptionist to listen to their needs, provide options, check on them on a specific schedule, calendar notifications for events, help with shopping or getting items delivered, to keep a journal on their status(that could be accessed by friends/relatives/medical/etc), weather info and warnings, schedule rides, event scheduling/reminders, and more. Subscription fee could be based upon their tax info (what they can afford)? Ideally this would be video communication and may include an in-house camera or 2-way video system. Relatives and friends would have free access to review their loved ones journal thru the app. A related ($10mo) app is based around dementia: https://outline.com/w3m2Kq https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.appery.proj... How would this app (scale) work with 1 user, 10 users, 50 users, etc? Administrators could purchase/return items (verbally) from a range of websites and would be delivered wherever (as part of the regular service).


You're going to have a few branding challenges in NYC if these guys keep up their massive growth: https://gorevel.com/new-york/


If you want, you can use the OpenDomain HelpHer.Com


I think your business model will suffer the same problem as Wag and Rover. Once I discover my community, I don’t need to use your app any more. I have the names of the people in my community, I have them on Facebook and what’s app, I have their phone numbers, I may even know where they live! Why would I continue subscribe?


I see it like dating apps. When/if you find a partner, you may stop using the app and even uninstall it. However for some people they may end up single again and then reinstall the dating app.

As long as the experience is positive, people will return in the future if/when the need arises.


My mom is going to love this. I think she was really intimidated, for some reason or other, about meetup.com. This seems like a more approachable alternative. We'll see what she thinks.


Thanks for sharing it with her, and I'd love to know what she thinks


Why 50? Why not 40? 30?

Adults tend to stop making friends after 30.


If this falls through (which I hope it does not!), trying a similar network for men wouldn't be a bad pivot. My dad has had a hell of a time making friends in his retirement.


How does something like this get accepted into YC? I get the whole "bundling and unbundling" thing, but this is just one Meetup group with its own website.


I would look at it more like a Meetup competitor that’s making a bet on segmenting in a totally different way (age instead of interest).

All startups start by focusing on a small segment of the addressable market. That’s not a weakness.


But you can create a meetup group based on age. I guess this is about positioning rather than the product.


You can create a web site in Microsoft Word. But it will never be the go-to product for that. Other products do it better.


I'm curious: Why 50 and why women ? (You have explained a bit in the intro post but it still seems like a needless restriction).


It's hard to answer why 50 and why women as separate questions because it's really the confluence of age and gender that makes our problem statement unique. We did a lot of user research with women of this age. We heard a consistent story: as she ages, she feels more and more invisible to society. Women with grey hair become less powerful; men tend to become more so. At the same time, though, she herself is feeling stronger and more comfortable in her own skin and "gives less f" than she ever has before. And so our goal in building Revel is to build a space where we can celebrate the power and strength that comes from being a woman of this age.


> Women with grey hair become less powerful; men tend to become more so

Not true. I could tell from many women over 50 with lots of power and tons of man beyond 50 who lost everything.


Seems like older men wouldn't be interested in hanging out with other men, let alone "hosting" events.

Source: a few years short of the target range. I only have a few male friends, made 15-20+ years ago. In contrast, my wife goes to all sorts of female-only gatherings pretty much every week. Nominally they "paint" or "craft" something there, but I'm pretty sure she just goes there for the social environment and to talk.

Seems to me a service like this isn't really possible for older men, at least not in any of the countries where I lived.


the restrictions are the entire point of the system. they could have picked any discriminators, but described why they wanted these filters on their community in the post.


Why not just create a meetup group in your area for women over 50? $15 a month per member seems kind of steep.


Why discriminate by gender?

Not only it's bad and limits the market, but I'd guess many or most people who identify as a woman who want to go to social events would enjoy the company of people who do not identify as a woman, since people who are exclusively homosexual are a minority.


From the above intro:

We're two women in our 30s who decided to work on this problem after seeing how important and how challenging it has been for our mothers.

Maybe they will change their minds at some point -- AKA pivot -- but this is the problem space that currently grabs them. Being interested in the problem you are trying to solve is an essential ingredient for success.


I imagine they can change focus depending on demand? They don’t have to be everything at once. Figure things out narrowly then expand, if it makes sense.


just to mansplain for a moment, women behave differently in the presence of men. for some it's being aware of the Male Gaze. for others it's a history of abuse or predation. in most cases, women-only gatherings feel safer and more inviting to more kinds of interaction.


Women and men are different.


I would change Welcome to your tribe. to something else. Indigenous people often get offended at stuff like that and I don't really see what benefit there is to using it.

You should describe some use cases explaining why a woman over fifty should want to reach out to others in the same demographic. A couple that come to mind:

If she was a homemaker (or primarily a wife and mom) and now she's building a career late in life, networking with other women can be very valuable and helpful.

If she has had a serious career, that's often more of a burden for women than men because men with careers often have support to do that. Women frequently are doing it in spite of being saddled with other expectations.


Oops. Left this thought out:

When you do marketing or public relations stuff, you have to speak to your entire audience, not just a majority of it. Yes, that's like extra work. You need to do it anyway.

While it's true that HN is mostly male, it's not entirely. So this phrasing is a problem:

If your mother, aunt, or family friend lives nearby, we'd love to meet her!

You should have started with reaching out to the female cohort here first, perhaps even giving them something special ("Are you a woman over 50 on HN living in this area? Use this code to get your first month free!") and then added the part asking people to reach out to people that fit your demographic if they don't happen to fit it.

(I'm not in the SFBA. I am a woman over 50 and I write website copy for pay, among other things.)


I'm really surprised about the gender focus here, and the fact that neither of you have answered any of the gender questions raised so far. Why not build for both genders? Do you have data suggesting that a) older men are not lonely/want community b) older women do not want to be around older men or c) something similar?

I agree that this is a dramatically underserved market, but I am unaware why women are particularly underserved than men.

Or is it just that men deserve to be lonely?


I tend to dislike ideas that move away from the most generalized platform, but it's not that this doesn't work sometimes.

If someone says "hey, there's this app to find a dog walker, and there's this app to find a gardener, and another to find a handyman, why not just make an app where people can select their proficiencies and set an hourly rate." I tend to prefer those ideas, as compared to someone saying "well I'm going to make an app that's like Amazon but instead we just sell healing crystals."

So your application is basically just Facebook Events, or Meetup, or Eventbrite, but for women who are over 50. You're moving away from the generalized platform in favor of specificity. Sometimes that just works, but it usually doesn't. The only way I think products like that can succeed is if

a.) the generalized/abstract platform is simply too abstract for people to even know that it services the specific use-case that a more honed application addresses directly. An example for this might be that even though someone could use an abstract platform like notion.so in order to keep track of their favorite wines/add pictures/notes/comments, the platform is so generalized that they simply are unaware of that potential use case. A wine app that lets you keep track of wine with pictures and comments may be exactly what this person needs.

b.) the generalized platform either contains too many unrelated features to this specific use case, and is bloated because of it, or it is unable to put in features specific to this use case because they are not generalizable enough to the rest of the platform. An example like this might be that Amazon has prime, grocery shopping, too many filters and wishlists etc, to the point that the "healing crystal" shopping application might benefit from simply discarding the bloat. Or to the other point, a house-plant shopping application might have additional filter criteria very specific to temperature/humidity/location tolerances etc, to such a degree of specificity that this criteria would simply not make sense to include in a platform like Amazon.

I think in your case, "b" is not a factor at all. The overlap between requirements for your application and any event-hosting application would be almost identical. So what you're essentially after is "a," where it would not even occur to enough women over 50 to use Meetup in order to arrange the kinds of events you're describing. And because of this, there is no network in place on the platform for that particular demographic. Whether or not this is the case, or your platform services a real need that exists but for the lack of a more specific platform, I have no idea. Best of luck to you, though.


Good idea. May i suggest that you clarify right off the bat what the ideological leaning on the platform are. Save half the country some time.


What on earth is about marketing to women now and using the promise of finding ones 'tribe'? It's really cringey and fake to me.


Are you in the target demographic? Maybe the style appeals to them. I'm sure OP have done their market research.


Self actualization over all else is a Me Generation (Baby Boomers) thing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_generation


When do you plan on launching in Seattle? This might be something interesting for my girlfriend's mother.


I think that this is much more needed for men over 50. Though easier to launch as older women are more social then their male counterparts.

Men over 50 might the most fragile and underserved group out there (they have the highest suicide rate, etc).

Perhaps, at some point, you could launch a partner service just for older men?


My ~65yo mother is single and although she has a good group of female friends she regularly meets with, finding a mate is much more elusive. I'm wondering how/if an app like this could eventually help this demographic find friends or partners of the opposite sex?


This is a great idea. I could see the model extending into other areas/demographics.

Best of luck with it.


Thank you!


It's really exciting to see a project aimed at using online tools to build offline relationships for an often overlooked group. From women in my own life I can immediately see (or at least, imagine) the value. Good luck to you both!


When I think about my mom, I think this totally makes sense. Hopefully you become as big as Meetup and reach Italy soon ;)


Thank you! We hope to reach Italy someday :)


For a website for senior women I can't help but scratch my head at how inaccessible your website is.

All your images are missing alt tags, which is accessibility 101.

The light pink text #E6989C on white #FFFFFF fails every contrast checker and is even hard for me as a young person to read.

Edit: I think you need bigger fonts (dates are 14px..nothing should probably be less than 18px), bolder font weights, deeper color contrast across the board.


I really appreciate that feedback. If there are other changes we could make to boost accessibility, please let me know.


If you haven't checked them out yet, the accessibility tools in Google Chrome's Lighthouse[1] audits were absurdly helpful to me when I had to do an accessibility audit on a recent marketing site. They're not totally exhaustive, but it's certainly a fantastic start and would have at least helped you catch low hanging fruit like contrast.

[1]: https://developers.google.com/web/tools/lighthouse


Amazing, thank you!


Please also give Firefox nightly a try

see https://youtu.be/lHBE0mIDTHk

screenshot https://i.imgur.com/kdzc26U.png


Thanks!


Major ones I would fix are:

- your 404 page is returning a 200 status code instead of 404 (making it hard for Google to know what's a broken page)

- your server isn't compressing (i.e. gzip) any of the responses which will impact speed a lot.

- you have several broken external links e.g. one to chandlerdpethpsych.com

I used this Chrome extension (I'm the author) to crawl and find these issues if you want to check and confirm fixes:

https://www.checkbot.io


Thank you!


This is kind of a nit-pick, but aside from what others have mentioned, your font for large and bold text (e.g. "As a woman over fifty...") is hard to read (and my vision is good). I'd suggest something clean, straight, sans-serif, and easily recognizable. Helvetica is probably a safe bet, though I'm certainly not a designer and am approaching more from a standpoint of legibility than usability.


I appreciate this suggestion!


Ideas? Stop being so sexist and exclusionary! Start recognizing the amazingness of diversity. Start welcoming men. You might learn a thing or three. Yes, it will be about WWII or the stock market or football, but would it hurt you to spend some time thinking about something new?


It's both easier and more trendy to launch it just for women and exclude men.

Someone should make something similar for men though. Though, I would imagine it would be more difficult.


I think this kind of thing should be not for profit though rather than YC. Someone mentioned men’s shed in Australia. That sort of thing. Meetup is a good idea. Sure they are for profit but a few bucks for unlimited members is ok, it’s almost free.




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