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The Ladies of Monarq

Get to know Diana and Irene, co-founders of Monarq. Monarq is a social app for the modern women to connect with other women. Try it today!


Monarq is a social app for modern women to connect with other like-minded women. Their mission: Inspire women to lead a more meaningful and fulfilling life, spark authentic conversations, and forge new friendships, whether for a day or a lifetime. Read on to find more about what inspired co-founders Irene Ryabaya and Diana Murakhovskaya to work together in uniting modern women.

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1. How did you two meet?

We spent almost a decade in the same male dominated industry – oil sales and trading. A mutual friend in London put us in touch because it was rare to meet like minded women in finance who would support each other. We were both looking for more fulfillment in our careers and shortly after that introduction we quit finance, traveled the world together and apart and then worked on a few hobbies (like rock climbing!) and passion projects in EdTech and Foodie events.

2. What inspired Monarq?

We wanted to make it possible for other women to find each other through the kind of serendipity that brought us together as friends and business partners. It’s frustrating to watch how easy it is for any single woman to get a date on Tinder or Bumble and yet how difficult it is to find a climbing partner or a coffee buddy in a new city. So, Monarq was born!

We were hiking a mountain in Borneo, Malaysia in late 2014, when it dawned on us that the best way for us build an inspiring company we’d be proud to call our own would be to do it together. Our combined skills in tech, sales and finance and our mutual tenacity and overarching ability to get sh*t done is exactly what startup unicorns are made of.

3. What is a modern challenge to meeting and befriending modern women?

The social needs of the modern woman are evolving in this increasingly connected and yet ever more lonely world.  Women like us are becoming more and more mobile in their careers and personal lives. We are more likely to take freelance and startup jobs, remain unmarried or have unconventional romantic relationships and move across the country or even the world in search of the next personal or professional adventure. Because of this quiet revolution many women are losing their friends and struggling to build new meaningful social circles.

Existing solutions for making new friends and building up your social life fail the modern woman in many ways. Facebook, while a great way to connect with those you already know, is not a good place to discover someone new and like-minded. Meetup is great if you are social and flexible with your time but can be difficult for more introverted women who strict work hours. Many solutions focus on dating and meeting in a group setting vs. focusing on creating real connections for women to meet other like-minded women one-on-one.

4. How does Monarq keep it platonic?

Yes, meaningful, platonic connections are at the core of Monarq. There are so many great dating apps out there for every kind of taste, interest and personality that we don’t see a need to add to the list.

Let’s say you are in a relationship and you tell your significant other, “Honey, I am going to go on Tinder and make new friends.” Chances are the response you get will be “Hell, NO!” In our society, dating and friendship don’t mix.

We decided to make Monarq women only because we found that countless other apps and websites that have tried to solve the friendship problem failed for the same reason – they all turned into bad dating sites. Gender gating helps keep the tone of the app more platonic (no pictures of body parts!) and our community does the rest.

5. What motivates both of you in growing the Monarq community?

Without a community there is no Monarq. This is actually one of the biggest mistakes founders make – the “if I build it they will come” mentality.   With so many new products coming out every single day, they only way you would download an app or sign up for a service is if a friend tells you to.

We were very fortunate because as soon as we launched the Monarq website and and Instagram, the community started forming naturally and reaching out to us with an outpouring of emails and comments telling us “This is so awesome, how can I help?” It was so inspiring to see that there was a real need for this kind of connection and that we were solving a real problem. Our community started there and it’s been our main focus ever since!

6. When did you start climbing?

Irene started climbing over a decade ago. A friend invited her to a Women Only Climbing clinic in the White Mountains because she knew she was outdoorsy (at the time she was into skydiving) and she got hooked.

Diana started climbing when Irene invited her to Brooklyn Boulders because she needed a climbing buddy. As luck would have it, Diana lived a 15 minute walk from the gym and spending hours at the gym together is a great way to bond, make friends and build trust.

Pretty soon we spent spent three days a week at BKB climbing and working on passion projects from the secret members lair.

7. How did you find BKB?

BKB was THE climbing gym in New York five years ago. When we started climbing the only other real option was Chelsea Piers which was both far and not quite the right community. BKB was built for climbers by climbers and the obvious choice. BKB will always be THE climbing gym to us :)

9. How has climbing affected other personal and/or professional arenas of your life?

In 2014 we went to BKB at least three times a week and spent all day there taking turns climbing, bouldering and working on our various projects. We planned Diana’s wedding in two months in the arm chairs in the back members lounge! BKB is where we first started talking about doing something more serious together and where we planned our Borneo Adventure so it will always have a warm place in our hearts.

Learning to climb is all about grit and determination and taking risks, it’s about trying and failing over and over again until you body is buzzing and your head is hazy but then suddenly you stick that move! Startups are all about trying and failing and learning but never giving up on your mission so it’s the perfect training ground for startup founders.

The lessons you learn while constantly working to improve your climbing, often one tiny move at a time, is exactly like the small victories you achieve in the startup world that eventually lead you to the big wins.   Climbing also requires that you work closely and communicate clearly with another person. You have to trust your climbing partner and you have to trust your co-founder. It’s a great way to test your relationship.

Join Monarq at Ladies Night on Monday, January 25th! 5pm climb, 7pm panel with a successful and mobile group of women– find the event on the Monarq app today to link with your future fellow climbers.