By Abigael Mei M. Yaokana / Office of the Director, DTI-EMB
WE live at the height of a technological revolution with fresh and innovative ideas sprouting from the minds of the aspiring start-up community. There is no denying young entrepreneurs will be the main players of this revolution.
With the growing landscape of social media, there is no doubt that millennials will be seizing this opportunity, and 27-year-old Valenice Balace knows exactly how to seize it.
Balace founded dating web site Peekawoo in 2012. The company was officially launched in 2013. By 2016 they started moving to a broader space.
“We started r-skinning our dating app to do other verticals, such as conferences, communities, colleges and hotels aside from dating,” Balace said.
Peekawoo is not your ordinary hook-up dating site. In fact, it was developed with women as their target market to cater to their needs of taking a traditional but fun approach to dating.
She developed this idea after she and a friend went through the phase from doing the usual option of going to nightspots, and found no one. They even went on to try dating web sites, but most of the men they met were just looking either for hook-ups or instant marriage.
From this experience, she noticed today’s dating apps were made by men who fashioned their site on how men wanted it to be. She wanted to challenge this platform by creating an app that would be “safe, fun, with users still having control and privacy,” she said
Peekawoo is not the typical location-based app. Instead, it filters matches by relying on the information you put upon signing in, while still giving you the option to choose your preferences and before chatting with your match, you would need to answer at least three out of five “would you rather” questions.
Today Peekawoo has broadened its platform by hosting friendly get-togethers for its beloved users. It has also started a do-it-yourself platform where anyone can log in and create their own app. “Just select the features you want, select a theme, upload your logo and photos, and voila! You have an app,” she said.
Her journey may be inspiring, but Balace admitted she did encounter hurdles along the way.
“Most women aren’t seen as entrepreneurs, especially as tech entrepreneurs. Every time I get into a room or into a meeting, I’m mostly mistaken for anyone, but the CEO and the founder,” she said.
This doesn’t stop her and her women-dominated team from doing what they want to do. She also said a woman executive is “more compassionate. There’s a lot less ego in a female executive.”
Almost five years in the industry, Balace is very thankful for the team who trusted and supported her, as well as government agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for giving exposure to female-led startups like her. Balace also considers as her greatest achievements being included in the list of Forbes 30 under 30 and earning $600,000.
Balace and her team are perfect examples that women can also be the main players, and challenge the tech industry.
“I do not see myself in terms of gender. I mostly just identify myself as a leader,” she said.