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Dating with a (Refreshing) Twist: An Interview with Jennique Mason, the CEO of Club Soda

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

In today’s day and age, the use of dating apps has never been more relevant for many adults. The joys and wonders of seeking relationships can be a delightful experience, yet challenges may come their way every now and then. Nevertheless, one of the biggest challenges people face has been finding the perfect match: Perhaps, someone who shares the same interests and aspirations as you. Or someone you know you can vibe with on a deeper level. And perhaps an integral part of this “match” may involve something known as “sobriety,” which, in this context, is defined as the state of abstaining from drinking alcohol. After some personal reflection, Jennique Mason came up with a solution to this problem: the creation of a dating app for people who don’t drink, known as Club Soda. In this exclusive interview, CEO Jennique Mason shares her story on how Club Soda came to be, as well as some reflections, hopes, and goals regarding her work.

Club Soda: How It All Started

On one beautiful day in Fiji, Jennique Mason was sitting at the beach, celebrating her birthday with her friend. As sober individuals, both Jennique and her friend were sipping on club soda with lime rather than alcohol. After spending some time chatting about their negative dating experiences as women who don’t drink, her friend turned to Jennique and asked her the question that ignited it all: “Why isn’t there a good dating app for people who don’t drink?”

Brimming with curiosity, Jennique took time on her own to research the industry of dating apps, specifically those for sober people. And to further add to this coincidence, Jennique happened to meet someone who worked for a third-party app developer at a high school reunion at the beginning of 2017. From that point on, Jennique spent some time working with the app developer to bring her idea of a sober dating app to fruition. 

At the time, Jennique’s daily career involved working in property management for several self-storage facilities in major metropolitan areas. This meant that the generation of her own dating app was a side project. 

Yet nothing prevented Jennique from putting a halt to the project, thanks both to her strong determination and the outstanding support that the app developer provided her. 

Fast forward to 2020. The app developer that Jennique worked with has done their part for her project, and it was now time for Jennique to choose between two options: 1) transition to work with another app developer or 2) gather her own in-house team.

Jennique chose the latter (hire an in-house team), and she faces no regrets: “I’m very lucky to have a small team of fairly young people… Somewhat inexperienced, but they’re very passionate, very dedicated team members who pretty much have just been willing to learn what they need to learn on the fly to make this happen… They also don’t drink, which is incredible.”

But with the successes also come the trials. Throughout the creation process and into the present day, Jennique has faced countless challenges. First, she faces the everyday obstacles of financing and whether she is capable of executing something. “‘Can I do this? Is the money going to run out?’ You’re following a trail of bread crumbs, doing your best every day, and you show up for me with the faith that the next step is gonna reveal itself but having never done it before.” Second, while Jennique does have access to mentors with business experience, she has never been in touch with anyone who has done anything close to Club Soda. Launching a dating app (and a sober one at that) can be very ambitious, and it also taps into a niche where she is “serving a community of people who, to a certain degree, have been marginalized in the mainstream culture.” 

Most of all, as a solo founder with no partners or investors, Jennique finds herself at a constant crossroads with both the easy days and the difficult days. However, with the efforts of her team and her passion for Club Soda’s mission, Jennique has continued to elevate herself along the path of being a CEO, and Club Soda continues to experience its own success today as a sober dating app.

An Inclusive Space for Sober People (And Those Who Are Interested)

Club Soda serves as a dating app “for people who don’t drink and also for people who are interested in dating people who don’t drink – you don’t have to be sober to use the app.” In addition to sober people, Club Soda also welcomes those who are sober-friendly, sober-adjacent, and sober-curious. Therefore, if one ever has their doubts about whether the users of the app truly identify as sober or not, you are welcome to the community, so long as you are interested in connecting with people who don’t drink. Jennique believes that the app will naturally filter out people “who could be intimidated by people who don’t drink” because they may find it difficult to match their interests with those who are sober. 

Something distinct about Club Soda is that it requires users to include a video and voice recording about themselves as part of their profiles. Though it may seem like something overwhelming to do, you can always come back and do your video when you feel ready. What’s even more rewarding is that this is one of the first steps to becoming part of an inclusive community for sober people and for everyone to get to know each other on a more genuine and personal level. Since there’s no filter, music, or requirement to look extra fancy, users of Club Soda are given a chance to just be themselves without having the look or feel of an influencer. 

“Especially after feeling isolated for so long [because of the pandemic] … people just want real, authentic connections and experiences whether that leads to a relationship or not, because everybody is all in different places,” says Jennique.

Speaking of a post-COVID world, many people in our society have experienced a spike in alcohol and substance use, which Jennique links to the fentanyl crisis in 2020 and 2021. However, it’s no surprise that many want to live feeling good in their own lives. With that, the reliance on dating apps has increased since 2020, which revealed an opportunity for those who were interested in dating but not drinking. 

Jennique’s personal experience with a past relationship has certainly played a role in her intention behind Club Soda. Before Jennique became sober, she was in a tumultuous relationship. As she describes it, “I don’t think that we would’ve been together if we had both been sober.” After some time, the relationship ended, and Jennique found herself in a state of emotional struggle, taking her about a year until she managed to control her drinking. 

Once she became sober, Jennique spent a year focusing on taking care of herself before she was ready to enter the dating world again. Once she was ready, Jennique began using dating apps for the first time. With her being sober, her social network had changed, and she wanted to meet people who were either sober or interested in dating those who didn’t drink. However, her experience trying to find the right people didn’t usually go as smoothly as expected. Jennique would usually have to gauge whether to let them know that she was sober, and she would wonder whether doing so would make either of them uncomfortable. 

However, every once in a while, Jennique would find someone who also didn’t drink, and those were the types of dates she found more enjoyable. 

With that said, Jennique was inspired to create Club Soda as a way to unite people who don’t drink and people who are interested in dating those who don’t drink. One of her biggest hopes is to eliminate the awkwardness of getting to know whether one is sober or not and cutting “to the good part where people can focus on getting to know each other and just have fun and feel comfortable together.” Club Soda is envisioned to serve people by traversing that gap and the loneliness that accompanies dating someone who drinks, giving way for those who are sober (or are interested in it) to be fully understood and seen in a relationship.

Reflections and Goals for Club Soda

When it comes to dating and relationships, Jennique offers a few words of wisdom:

Don’t give up.

If you feel like you’re not having any luck finding your person, don’t feel bad. Instead, look at it in a positive light and know that you will find your perfect match at the right time.

Get clear and focus on what you want.

Highlight the qualities that you would like to experience or show in a relationship.

Be willing to put yourself out there.

Whether you’re online or in person, be willing to “make that conscious effort to be open” because “you’ll be surprised at how many positive experiences you could have that could possibly lead to a date.”

Reflecting on how she got to where she is today, Jennique is extremely grateful to her family, friends, and her Club Soda team for supporting her and making her dream become a reality. Even though Club Soda’s journey has just begun, Jennique would consider where she is at today as a huge accomplishment. It all started with a little idea that has now evolved into an app that people can download and use. 

Not to mention, Jennique is also one of the first women in her family to be the founder of her own business. Here is her advice to all the young women reading this article: “… do not let lack of money, lack of resources, lack of a team deter you from dreaming big. Continue to believe in yourself and not give up no matter what. We all have our days where we’re looking at the glass and it’s half empty. But if you just recommit tomorrow, and you keep showing up like that, you can achieve anything that you want.”

One of Jennique’s goals for Club Soda is to expand her market from Los Angeles, where Club Soda started, to New York and eventually Chicago, because of their lively communities of young people who don’t drink. She and her team are currently working on incorporating a social media component in Club Soda to encourage “people to engage with each other without the pressure of having a match on the dating app side” or maybe even to just make friends. 

Beyond business goals, Jennique hopes Club Soda can one day achieve something like how people felt connected with one another through TikTok during the lockdown in 2020. She aspires to ignite a sense of community and belonging for sober young people, “where they could feel like, ‘Okay, I’m not alone. There are other people like me that I can interact with, who understand my sense of humor, who understand my challenges and share a lot of my same worldviews, and I’m not alone.’”


If you would like to learn more about Club Soda and/or try out the app, click here. With Club Soda currently being invite-only, all CU Boulder students reading this article are welcome to use the following code to create their Club Soda profile: 


Gennah Penalosa is currently the social media director for Her Campus CU Boulder. She is a senior studying finance at the Leeds School of Business. When she is not doing homework, you can find her listening to music or drawing the face of a random celebrity.