Can you describe your role and what you do in one sentence?
Being a start-up I am forced to wear a number of different hats. I suppose my main focus though is to look after TrueView’s brand vision, the UX and design of the product as well as developing and implementing the marketing strategy.
Tell us a little about your company.
TrueView was born 18 months ago after the three founders won a place at the Wayra Academy in London. Having an initial investment from the telefonica/O2 accelerator scheme meant we could all go full-time and really push our idea into the market. We are a very small start-up, but pride ourselves on doing everything in-house.
My background is digital advertising, working as a designer and creative for the past 10 years. Damian our CTO worked alongside me at the very same agency, working on groundbreaking digital executions and innovative forms of development. Our third co-founder Andrew is the reason we exist.
Having a career in business and technical sales under his belt means we have three very strong aspects of our business covered, coupled with the unique aspect of Andrew’s genuine insight of the dating market. Spending a lot of money and time using various dating services inspired him to want to build a better proposition. With the skills now surrounding that vision we hope we will do just that.
Damian, Andrew and Matt from TrueView.
What is your personal style in business in three words?
Fun, passionate and collaborative.
How did you get into the online dating industry?
I slipped, banged my head and Andrew was sat there asking whether we should all quit our well-paid jobs, dump our security, solid routine and go be our own bosses by building a dating app. Of course I jumped at the chance. It was the biggest challenge I had been offered and when you look at it beyond just a product point of view, it was also the industry-wide challenges that excited me.
What are you most proud of in your role?
Designing a product and seeing people using it in the way you intended was hugely exciting. However, building a brand that people trust and want to communicate with was the biggest task but most rewarding by far. We received a personal email not that long ago from a wonderful girl called Vicki. She just wanted to get in touch to say thanks because she had met her boyfriend Nick through TrueView. I went to meet them both and it was such a strange and rewarding feeling.
There is a gritty side to the online dating industry, so our aim was to create a truly credible and honest brand to help change people’s opinions. With only 12 months behind us, sat working out of a bedroom, receiving that email was the exact reason we launched TrueView. Vicki never even contemplated using online dating until she saw an ad for TrueView. It was at that moment that all our efforts had come together and been validated. The design, the product and the brand positioning. It is early days for us but that gave us a huge confidence boost and made us all very proud indeed.
What are the biggest challenges the industry faces?
I think with developments in technology comes huge behavioral shifts within industries. People expect business and services to align with that shift, otherwise they are left behind as people migrate to new and more intuitive systems that fit more comfortably into their daily lives – complimenting the technology they choose to use. We are in a world where expensive subscriptions can no longer be the money making model. People download apps that they can’t live without for 69p.
The industry needs to come around to this thinking. It is no longer an industry to make a quick buck and prey on the weak, it is about relevancy, useful and effective services with creative business models that don’t just front-load the cost onto a customer to pay for extortionate TV campaigns. That is a scary cycle that I think a lot of companies are now faced with, and will have to quickly rethink as more people follow the Tinder train.
With the social media and mobile boom also comes an attitudinal shift that all businesses have to take, not just those in this industry. Customers now respond, comment and share opinions not only by the product or service but all levels of how a business behaves.
This can be hugely beneficial to a company if they choose to embrace it, however my feeling is that this industry has a lot of catching up to do and it is the companies who are resisting this transparency and honesty that keeps the stigma of online dating alive.
In my opinion people are more confident online than ever before and as long as the companies in the online dating industry create a secure and trusted service that truly understands that they are dealing with people’s feelings and emotions, then the industry can keep moving forward.
What do you believe is the most exciting opportunity facing the industry?
It is a massively exciting place to be, as long as your company is prepared for it. My point being that Tinder is huge and is doing a lot to create a buzz around our industry, talking to people that previously thought that online dating was only for their divorced parents. A new generation of people are emerging that have mobile, Facebook and Twitter ingrained into their everyday lives. This generation are more internet savvy and have more confidence sharing content online. What used to be a really hard education process now already exists.
Now it is just building the right product and having the right approach that excites. The creativity and innovation that is now demanded of our industry is fascinating. It is starting to become a cool industry and not just a stream of carbon copy sites with different names, who unfortunately now are being exposed for their lack of empathy towards the people who we aim to help.
What do you love most about the online dating industry?
The opportunity. For me it is the only industry that feels behind in its thinking and that the market leaders are not the pioneers in its technology advancements. They are only the ones with the fattest wallets. There are some amazing new services out there and some serious technology specialists wanting to shake up this industry and they really have the opportunity and ability to do so.
It is like some kid in a garage launching a computer company that really knocks Apple off its pedestal. It just wouldn’t happen. Though a lot of the new and exciting online dating products that are being developed and launched are exactly that, which is very exciting. There is plenty of room for everyone to co-exist but it is this type of behavior that drives innovation and change within an industry and I love being a part of it.
Which service or company do you admire in the online dating industry?
Has to be Tinder. They just blew it wide open, they have started a revolution. The gap between social networks and online dating is closing rapidly and their growth rate is phenomenal. People don’t realise how hard it is to launch a digital product or service, especially on a limited budget. The viral effect that Tinder created is what any company in any industry would envy.
Though, my admiration is also attributed to what it has done for the industry. They have created a huge wave, which every company will feel. It has generated huge awareness that online dating is moving and changing all the time. With new innovative products launching all the time, this can only be a good thing for the industry as long as they understand it’s not only about the technology but the business ethics as well.
What sets your company apart from others in the industry?
There are plenty of things but a key one is how lean we are and the reasons we got into the industry in the first place. Having a small but highly skilled team means we can quickly iterate and test whilst still retaining relatively low running costs. The product is always evolving and developing and having our skills in-house means we can react quickly to product alterations, as well as shifts in our marketing strategy.
We also invest a lot of time with building our brand, which I feel is lacking in the industry. We have built up friends and advocates of our TrueView. Because we understand what people are going through when using online dating, our product vision and approach is vastly different. We don’t just sell this dream but actually empathise and understand how dating can be so stressful. And it isn’t just some clever marketing spin, having been there and tried most dating services with a real need to meet someone, has meant our co-founder Andrew has real compassion and understanding, which filters down in how we approach our business.
What does the rest of 2013 hold for your company?
We are technically only on version 1, so we are about to move into our version 2 phase, which is vastly different and much more advanced, so we are very excited about that. We are securing an office space and expanding the team to accommodate these advancements, so it really feels that we are becoming a true business. There is not much left of 2013 but a hell of a lot of work to be done, so I am assuming a lot of late nights but hopefully one serious Christmas party to celebrate how far three people have come in the last 18 months, if we get into our office on time.
â€‹Watch The Story of TrueView, below: