Stop Swiping and Start Connecting: Meet Huggle

Stop Swiping And Start Connecting:

Meet Huggle

Have you ever gone out with someone that you met through a social app and ended up disappointed because the connection didn’t go much further than physical attraction? If yes, that is the scenario that Valerie Stark and Stina Sanders were looking to overcome when creating the Huggle app.

Huggle is a social app that connects you with people based on places you go, rather than physical appearance. The app uses hyper local technology to check you into your favorite places, your current location or places nearby and allows you to see who else has been there and what other locations you share with them – say goodbye to swiping! According to the founders, it is a mix of Instagram and Foursquare and can be used to find platonic or romantic connections – or simply to be nosey. It is the perfect app to use if you are traveling or new to an area – which is exactly how the idea for the app came about.

Huggle – which suggests a friendly hug – emerged when Valerie moved from Moscow to London and was struggling to make friends so she would often search her own Instagram geo-tags to see who else had gone to the same places and would occasionally reach out to people and initiate conversation. According to her, she started to build a small network through her own geo-tags and one day discovered Stina through a mutual yoga location. Upon scanning Stina’s Instagram page, Valerie discovered that the two had a lot of interests in common and both frequented at a lot of the same locations so she decided to message Stina and after a short while, the two met and became friends.

After meeting and establishing a friendship in 2014, the duo agreed that since social media apps at the time lacked depth and didn’t provide a good common ground for people to meet combined with their shared desire to meet people that they had things in common with, left a big white-space in the market. Ultimately leading to the start of Huggle in the beginning of 2015.

In a world of Tinders, Grindrs, Hinges, Bumbles and OKCupids, it is refreshing to learn of an experience provided by a social app where romantic or sexual relationships aren’t the assumed end result. “Huggle is a bespoke app and you can use it how you wish” offers Sanders. She explains that there is absolutely no bias when it comes to their target market – man, woman, single, taken, whether you’re in search of platonic friendships or romance, all users are welcome.

Valerie Stark and Stina Sanders, founders of Huggle app

The app officially launched in the UK in June 2016 and the U.S. launch is in the works. Huggle has received investment by Andrey Andreev, a Russian entrepreneur who also invested in Bumble, reasserting the market’s need for an unbias and platonic social media app.

When asked about challenges faced thus far, the duo share their favorite motivational quote “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” Their shared interests and ideas brought them together and keep them going day to day but their very diverse backgrounds have also played a large part in the success of the app. Stark, a certified yoga instructor whose background includes a managerial position at one of the largest restaurant businesses in Moscow where she was a key player in their UK and European expansion, combined with Sanders, a model and social media personality who partakes in online TV documentaries and public speaking to highlight social media safety and expectations, make a great team. According to Sanders, “We have very different backgrounds in the tech world, which has been a blessing in disguise.”


1. What app do you most use?

Huggle 🙂 and Instagram.

2. Name a business mogul you admire.

Val: Victoria Beckham – she knows what she’s doing and I like how she moved away from her pop-star perception to a high brow fashion designer.  She created the Beckham brand and I admire that.

Stina: Richard Branson. I’ve read all of his books and I personally think he is a PR genius.

3. What product do you wish you had invented?

V: Memes! 

S: Any idea that is so simple and almost pointless – like the selfie stick.

4. What is your life motto?

V: Her success is not your failure.

S: The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has been before.

5. Desert island. Three things, go.

V: Resistance bands, book and intimate wash.

S: Music, coconut oil and a hair tie! 

Kelsi Zimmerman

Kelsi is a digital beauty, fashion and lifestyle writer who resides in New York City. In addition to SWAAY, she also contributes to Teen Vogue, Women's Health and New Beauty.

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