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Revel: Women Creating Community for Women

By Mark Ogilbee posted 09-08-2022 09:04 AM

  
Revel participants enjoy an outing

Founded by Lisa Marrone and Alexa Wahr, Revel is a membership-based social platform exclusively for women in midlife. An AgeTech Collaborative™ startup participant, Revel builds community through member-led events, both virtual and in-person, as well as through online discussion groups. 

We sat down to talk with co-founder Lisa Marrone, who offered her thoughts on Revel’s vision and some challenges they’ve faced along the way. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

  

Can you tell us something about yourself and about Revel? 

My name is Lisa Marrone; I’m the co-founder and CEO of Revel. Our platform is a community for women in midlife and beyond, offering events and online communities.  

The purpose of Revel is to acknowledge that when women hit their 50s, 60s and 70s, there’s a lot going on in our lives. We’re going through menopause, empty-nest syndrome, health issues, aging parents and more — and we want to talk to other people who are going through the same things. Revel exists to be a place where a woman can find community and come away feeling like she was nourished and emotionally empowered.  

 

And Revel offers a combination of virtual and in-real-life events, correct? 

Revel has two different product offerings, so to speak. On the one side are our events; anybody who joins Revel can browse all the events happening on our calendar. There are 500 events that members organize each month, ranging from in-person walks and aerial yoga to virtual meditation, workout classes and cocktail hours. 

On the other side, we have online communities where members can talk about specific topics. We have groups focused on menopause, divorce, difficult relationships with adult children, and more. 

 

Do you curate or have a hand in what kind of events members organize? 

One thing that makes Revel unique is that we take more trust and safety precautions than other social platforms. One of those is that we approve every single event that gets published to the site, and we’ve got strict guidelines about what’s allowed and what’s not.  

It’s the same for posting in our communities: Someone on the Revel team is looking at everything that’s posted to make sure it’s safe, appropriate and good. That has created this feeling of trust, safety and intimacy among the members. They know that the conversations they have at Revel are private and aren’t going to follow them around the internet. 

 

What inspired you to found Revel? 

My co-founder and I get this question a lot: “Why did two women in their mid-30s start a community for women in midlife and beyond?”  

In my case, my mom raised me by herself, and she didn't have the luxury of spending time on herself or with her friends. But when I went to college, she started putting herself out there socially, and these days she has a busier social calendar than I do. She’s 72 years old and she’s healthier and younger-looking than she was in her 40s and 50s, when she was bedraggled from caring for me. 

That’s a good metaphor for how a lot of women of her age feel. From a societal perspective, women get more and more invisible as we get grayer. But internally, women feel the opposite. They feel comfortable in their own skin, they know themselves better, they feel stronger internally.  

But all the marketing messaging directed toward older women is very pejorative: “You need this anti-wrinkle cream; you need to dye your hair.” But that’s not the message she wants. The message she wants is: “You’re young, and here’s this cool hip thing. You’re worth investing in yourself in this way.” 

 

What has surprised you about this, this whole process? 

Lots! For one, I know more about what will happen to women's bodies than I did when starting this adventure, which has been personally really fulfilling. I'm almost 35, and I knew zero about menopause and what’s going to happen to my body. Now I know, and I'm glad I know. That’s a testament to the whole thesis of Revel. 

 

What is an obstacle that you've had to navigate in this process? 

I met my co-founder at Harvard Business School, and I worked in venture before starting this company, so we've been fortunate as founders — especially as female founders — to be well-networked and connected. We get into spaces more easily than other people who don't have those networks.  

Even so, we encounter a lot of sexism. There’s a different set of questions that are asked of us than are asked of male founders. That has been eye-opening. But ultimately, it makes us more excited and resolved to build this on behalf of our members, because we know it deserves to exist in the world, and we believe that it's going to be a really big and interesting business. 

 

You participated in AARP Innovation Labs’ accelerator program. How did that help shape your journey? 

We started the accelerator as we were in a three-month ramp-up to starting a fundraising process. Those three months were pedal to the metal with us asking ourselves, “How do we make sure we’re hitting our goals? How do we put fuel on the fire and make sure we’re not messing things up?”  

The accelerator helped us with marketing, sending out surveys and getting us real-time feedback. They had a designer who was instrumental in changing how we think about the onboarding flow at Revel. Each week, it seemed like we learned new things from different experts on the accelerator programs team. 

 

Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share? 

Once someone is a member of Revel, they can sign up for any number of events. We have some especially beloved events, such as Monday Declutter and Chat, where you pour yourself a glass of wine, make a list of your decluttering projects and hold each other accountable. Joining Revel is currently free, so now is a great time to get involved. 

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