Ahead of his talk at GDI’s forthcoming conference in Amsterdam next week, take a look at our interview with the CEO of European dating brand The Inner Circle, David Vermeulen.
Name: David Vermeulen
Position and company: CEO of The Inner Circle
Period of time in the role: 2 years
Twitter ID: @InnerCircleCo
Tell us a little about The Inner Circle.
The Inner Circle helps members move in the right circles for well-matched dating. Connect through friends and travel.We believe that meeting up with other like-minded single people should be simple and fun. The Inner Circle helps create great opportunities for members to interact online, through the app and at our exclusive events. To become a member, you need to be personally invited. To ensure the highest quality, we also screen each registration before approval.
The Inner Circle first launched in Amsterdam in December 2012, followed shortly by London, Paris, Barcelona, Milan and Stockholm.
When did the idea come about, and how long have you been working on the site?
I founded The Inner Circle in 2012. After a long relationship, I decided to try online dating. I registered for two sites and thought that not only the quality of people, but also the design and user experience of the dating sites was disappointing. I decided that this could be done better, and started to build a dating platform with a focus on the highest quality.
Why did you decide to create a hybrid of a dating site and events company?
Online dating only makes sense when people eventually meet offline. The Inner Circle provides a unique dating experience by combining these two key elements.To break the ice for people new to dating, we organise exclusive events at classy bars and clubs. We make these nights relaxed and fun. The events are the stepping stone for members to get more active online and offline.
Which features have proved popular amongst your users?
The Travel Feature: our members are young professionals, travelling often for work and leisure. The Travel Feature enables members to share their travel plans and meet up abroad with other members. Through the app and website, it is then also possible to see how near the other members are.
Who is your target audience?
Members of The Inner Circle are inspiring professionals of similar backgrounds and interests. They are aged 25-40 years old, ambitious, well-groomed, well-educated, and are excelling in their careers.
Did you take inspiration from sites like HowAboutWe?
When we started developing The Inner Circle we did not want to be the next standard dating site, so we focused more on the exclusive social networking sites like ASmallWorld and Best of All Worlds. Also we learned a lot from event communities like Meetup and InterNations.
What markets are you currently live in? Do you plan to expand into new areas?
The Inner Circle is currently live in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Barcelona, Milan and Stockholm. Soon we will launch in Berlin and Copenhagen. And mid 2015, we will take the big step across the ocean and launch in NYC.
How many users do you have? What is engagement like, and where are the users from?
We do not share numbers. What we can share is that we are really pleased with the activity and conversion. And in particular, members actually finding a partner. We are now receiving baby cards!
What is your monetisation strategy? Have you partnered with date spots?
The Inner Circle has multiple channels of income. The first is our full membership subscription we offer for members that want to use the site fully. Second is the income we get from our events (ticket sales and bar revenue). The third is through selected partners that are integrated in our site. For example, it is possible to book a table at one of the selected hotspots. We get a revenue share from the venue, or one of the concierge services we work with.
Did you raise any investment or funding for The Inner Circle?
No, we worked from the start on a shoestring with a small team. Luckily we reached our Break Even Point at an early stage.
What do you think will be the biggest online dating trends in 2015?
More personal: The world is moving towards more personal solutions. Niche communities of like-minded people will continue to excel, especially those linked to one’s personal network.More offline less online:
Offline is the new online, people have started to realise that meeting up offline is the key to finding love, the web is merely a facilitator. So companies that can get their members faster offline through events, real time nearby notifications etc, will have an advantage.
Higher quality: Dating sites must go for higher quality of potential matches. People are Tinder tired. No more endless swiping but an offering of potential matches you do actually want to meet.
Wearables: Introduction of the Apple Watch will create new opportunities for geo-locations dating features.
What are your plans for the next year?
In 2015 we will continue to launch The Inner Circle in new cities around the world. Exciting times!
Visit The Inner Circle here.