In a desperate attempt to meet other mothers, Ivana Mannel Googled “how to make mum friends in Dallas.” She didn’t have any family or friends with kids of their own in her area, and was desperate to find someone to relate to. What she found on the other end of her search was Peanut, an app that links up mothers with other compatible mums in the same area.
Now, she says she goes on the app everyday to exchange messages with other mums. One of her “matches” is teaching her French, and another how to make Sushi. “I have people who understand what it’s like to be a mother and they’re there to help. It’s so amazing and simply an enormous relief because I know I am not alone.” she said.
The Peanut app uses a similar formula to dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. Users connect their Facebook accounts, and choose from a variety of descriptors like “Spiritual Gangster,” “Fashion Killa,” or “Single Mama.” A smart algorithm and geolocation tool then shows them nearby women with similar interests. They can either swipe up to wave, or down to say maybe later. If another woman waves back, it’s a match and the two can start chatting.
The app, launched one year ago, was created by Michelle Kennedy, a former executive at Badoo who was integral to the creation of Bumble. After having a son, she struggled to find other mums to connect with while also working. She was also seriously unimpressed with the lack of social technology available for mums.
“It was like, here’s a forum. The technology and tools were out there, but there was nothing catering to this enormous market.” Kennedy said.
Mums who missed out on Tinder
The app’s demographic is 25 to 35-year-olds, a generation accustomed to whipping out a smartphone to do everything. Kennedy said she finds there are two types of users on Peanut: those who found their partners through a dating app and find it totally natural to meet close friends online; and those who missed out on using apps like Tinder and want in on the fun.
She wanted to focus specifically on the female user experience, and created Peanut with all of the constraints of motherhood in mind. The app connects to users’ calendars, and allows busy mums to schedule and add playdates or other meetups directly to their calendars.
Safety is also a critical feature — it’s why Kennedy requires users to connect Facebook accounts and use geolocation tools. Dallas mum Jess Elo said she recently hosted a happy hour for women in the Peanut community, and was pleasantly surprised when 15 women she hadn’t met before showed up.
“There’s a safe feeling to it, you know where they live, and how old their kids are. That’s the key to it.” she said.
The isolation that comes along with having a baby can be difficult, but Yalda Uhls, a researcher at UCLA and author of Media Mums & Digital Dads, emphasised the importance of young mothers also taking time to connect with each other and their babies in non-virtual worlds.
“Looking at your face is how kids learn non-verbal empathy cues, and if you are always looking at your screen they won’t learn.” she said.
So far, the app has launched in London, NYC, Dallas, Chicago, LA and as of Thursday, San Francisco. It’s got a long ways to go before reaching the scale of a Tinder, but the app is growing its audience of users and expanding its locations: The number of users is currently in the “six figures” according to the company, with more than 100,000 swipers per day and 15 million profile views. Kennedy said she also sees users popping up around the world in far flung places like Dubai and Australia. Mothers are a powerful community, and word about the app spreads quickly from mum to mum.
Kennedy says she gets emails from users every week asking when Peanut is coming to their city. She noted that the way our society lives and works has changed. People used to live down the street from a close community of mothers and sisters, but that is no longer the reality.
“They say it takes a village, but we no longer have that village mentality, and those support networks just don’t exist anymore.” she said