Soul App Founder Zhang Lu comes second in J.P. Morgan's Top 100 Women-Powered, High-Growth Businesses in Asia Pacific

Published : Friday, March 31, 2023, 4:21 pm

SHANGHAI, March 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- In the inaugural Top 100 Women-Powered, High-Growth Businesses in Asia Pacific by J.P. Morgan, Soul App and its founder Ms. Zhang Lu were awarded second place. The investment bank's report celebrates the women founders, co-founders and C-suite executives at the fastest-growing private companies over the past year. 

After seven years of solid growth since Ms. Zhang single-handedly founded Soul App in 2016, it has become one of the most prominent social platforms and a star unicorn companies in China. In a media interview, Zhang said that "SOUL has committed itself to helping people connect with like-minded peers and secure a sense of belonging, something which everyone sometimes struggles to find offline. Driven by her persistence and leveraging innovations such as interest graph-based relationship building and gamification, SOUL has gained consistent traction with younger generations.

While traditional social platforms commonly foster online connections on the basis of users' existing interpersonal networks, Gen-Z as true digital natives instead place weight on sharing life's ups and downs with other users with the same values, even if they were initially strangers. Inspired by this observation, Zhang soon realized that "no single product on the market enables users to speak their minds, share their unique life stories, or simply express the feeling of the moment without pressure and to receive immediate, meaningful feedback". Out of her vision, Soul App was born.

Based on Zhang's penetrating insights on socialization needs specific to young digital natives, SOUL has set its core goals of "pressure-free communication" and "emotional resonance". To allow users to express themselves freely, the app has taken a multi-pronged approach to remove the pressure from socializing. For one, real portrait photos are not supported as SOUL users are encouraged to use avatars meticulously crafted by the platform or their peers in a way that reduces appearance anxiety. At the same time, the social platform has tapped into interest graphs and advanced algorithms to quickly introduce potential friends with shared values and hobbies to one another, allowing the forging of deeper connections without so much time and hassle. 

Capitalizing on gamification, Zhang and her team have made socializing more relaxing and engaging by adding new features such as "Anonymous Chitchats", "Bombing Cats", a cat-animated strategy card game, and real-time group chat. These innovative interactions have paved the way for an immersive social experience and a user stickiness boost, as evidenced by the latest data: SOUL records an average of 66.9 point-to-point messages per person daily, 31.5% of its monthly active users (MAUs) posting personal status, and 87% of MAUs communicating and interacting with other peers.

All these continuous efforts have turbocharged SOUL's growth and set it apart from the competition to become one of the most valuable apps. With Zhang at its helm, SOUL's stellar ranking by J.P. Morgan suggests that the capital market recognizes Ms. Zhang Lu as an outstanding management leader and SOUL as a platform with rosy business prospects.

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