About Charly

Charly Lester is a trained journalist and award-winning serial entrepreneur.  She is the author of two marketing books for start-ups and Rebel Badge Book.  She now works as a freelance marketing consultant, specialising in start-ups.

Charly Lester first entered the dating industry in 2013, when her blog ’30 Dates’ went viral.  Quickly head-hunted by The Guardian, and then by Time Out media, where she was Global Head of Dating, Charly spent has spent over seven years working in the dating industry.

In 2014, she launched The Dating Awards, an international set of industry awards for the online and offline dating industries.  Charly ran the UK, US and European Dating Awards until 2018, when she co-founded Lumen, a new dating app for over 50s.   Lumen received £3.5m investment from Andrey Andreev – the dating titan behind the Badoo, Bumble and Chappy dating apps.  The four apps formed The Magic Lab group, which was bought for $3 billion by the Blackstone Group at the end of 2019.

Over the last seven years Charly has worked with a number of companies within the dating space, with a particular focus on marketing and PR.  She was Agony Aunt for eHarmony, and her dating advice has appeared in most national newspapers and magazines.  She regularly appears on TV and radio representing the British dating industry and talking about entrepreneurship.  In 2015 she was a guest judge on the final of The Apprentice, advising Lord Sugar on the viability of a dating app idea (see photo below).

Charly’s marketing successes with The Dating Awards and Lumen have led her to be a sought after advisor for start-ups across a range of different industries.  She currently works an advisor for a number of different apps and lifestyle brands.

Charly teaches regular business classes at the Guardian, and is the author of two business books – The Female Entrepreneur and Modern Marketing for Start-Ups.  Outside of dating Charly is a huge advocate for female entrepreneurship, and co-founded of ‘A League of Her Own’ – an online training platform for early stage entrepreneurs.  Charly is an Ambassador for the rape charity Survivors Manchester, and was a Community Governor at Kendrick School in Reading – the girls’ grammar school where she herself was educated.

In 2018 Charly was named one of the 5 ‘Women of the Future’ in entrepreneurship.  She was profiled by Forbes the same year. In January 2020 Charly was listed in the Women in Tech 100.  After just four months with Lumen, she led the business to 24th in the Start Ups 100 List, and she was recently awarded a Stevie Award for entrepreneurship.

Charly judging the final of The Apprentice in 2015