Ohlala, a German app that lets men set up paid dates with women, just launched its service in New York. Described by TechCrunch as the “Uber for escorts,” Ohlala originally launched in Germany as Peppr, an app that helped facilitate bookings with legal sex workers. However, Peppr was unable to handle logistical issues as users were messaging sex workers directly and paying in person, not through the app.
They’ve since rebranded to Ohlala and relaunched. Since August 2015, Ohlala has booked over 25,000 dates.
According to Pia Poppenreiter, Ohlala’s CEO, the app isn’t specifically for prostitution, though.
“Whatever those two people want to do — may it be to give company at a dinner or end up in bed together — is a private matter and should be agreed upon in the chat before meeting,” Poppenreiter told TechCrunch. “It’s simple: We match people for paid dates immediately. It actually solves problems in this marketplace that dating sites and most escort sites don’t solve: We match expectations, on-demand.”
Sure Poppenreiter… whatever you say.
So how does Ohlala work?
Male users put in a request for a date. The request includes how much they’re willing to pay and how long they want the date to last. Female users in the area then have 21 minutes to accept the inquiry before it disappears.
Once a female user accepts the inquiry, the couple messages one another, negotiates prices and activities, and sets up a meeting.
Even though the German press has been having a heyday over the Ohlala launch (as well as Peppr’s previous launch), the app isn’t breaking any German laws because sex work is legal in Germany. If you’ve ever been a tourist in Berlin, you know that seeing a sex worker negotiate on the streets with a potential client is not uncommon.
Of course, German prostitution laws and New York laws are quite different. New York has strict laws against prostitution, which include a $1,000 fine or jail time. However, Ohlala has gotten around New York’s laws by claiming that they are not an escort service and whatever users do on their app is up to the users, not Ohlala.
“Ohlala is all about connecting real women to men as quickly as possible to lead to an in-person interaction,” the company says. “Men post to the platform with what type of date they’d like to go on and what the price range will be. Female users can then sort through and choose which requests they’d like to respond to. Once the woman initiates conversation, her profile becomes available to the date seeker, but stays completely anonymous up until that point.”
Ohlala has raised $1.7 million in seed funding and is now available as a web app for New Yorkers with a native app on the way.
And here are a few screenshots for those of you who want to see what the app’s like before downloading: