Executive Interview: David Khalil, co-founder of EliteSingles

David Kahil Elite Singles

Name: David Khalil
Position & Company: Co-founder of Affinitas, owner of eDarling and EliteSingles brands.
Period of time in the role: Since November 2008
Twitter ID: @david_khalil

Can you describe your role and what you do in one sentence?

I am one of the founders of Affinitas and take responsibility for most of our marketing, as well as our customer care operations.

Tell us a little about your company.

Affinitas was started roughly five years ago. Today we operate our main eDarling brand in 20 countries across Europe, and we also have sites in Chile and Mexico. Our newest launches have been in the UK and Ireland, our first entry into English-speaking markets, under the Elite Singles brand. We focus on helping our users to find long-term relationships. Our target group is mostly 29 to 59 year olds and of higher education. Our headquarters are in Berlin, where we employ more than 300 people from almost 40 nationalities.

What is your personal style in business in three words?

Transparency, Honesty, Entrepreneurship.

How did you get into the online dating industry?

Pure coincidence. Until six — eight weeks before starting our company, neither my co-founder Lukas nor I had ever used an online dating site. The market really caught our interest in 2008, when we read about an investment from Index Ventures into Be2. We then looked through the sites that were successful on the German market and had a number of ideas how we could do things better. A few weeks later we decided to put our hypothesis to the test.

What are you most proud of in your role?

I am most proud of the value that we are creating for society. Within five years we have helped singles from the Southern tips of Chile to the far East of Russia to overcome loneliness and find the love of their life. At the same time we have done much in markets to raise the quality standards of our industry — for instance in the area of fighting scams.

Elite Singles
Affinitas team: David Khalil, Lukas Brosseder, Michael Schrezenmaier

What are the biggest challenges the industry faces?

The industry’s biggest challenge is reputation. The potential of the online dating industry is enormous. We address one of the most essential needs of the human being. But a large number of sites in our markets live on running databases full of fake profiles and on tricking people into subscriptions services. So many users of online dating sites have suffered great financial and emotional damage that their voice is being heard even louder than those of the millions of success couples.

What do you believe is the most exciting opportunity facing the industry?

Mobile apps are clearly the biggest opportunity right now. Tinder is a great example of how big the potential for mobile dating is and I can only congratulate IAC on their success. I am very excited to see how they will be doing in 2014.

What do you love most about the online dating industry?

As you might infer from my previous answers, I am not the greatest fan of the industry in general. Nonetheless I like what we are doing as a company and that’s kept me excited and happy over the past five years.

Which service or company do you admire in the online dating industry?

First of all: we are really trying hard to establish ourselves as the company that earns the admiration of its direct competitors and I think that there are a number of areas in which we really excel. Despite my very negative view on how many competitors are running their business, there are also many exceptions. To name a few: we like Tinder, we like AdopteunMec for their creativity and I have great admiration for Markus Frind. In the past, we also had the opportunity to work closer with eHarmony and we have admiration for them.

What sets your company apart from others in the industry?

Just the fact that we are truly dedicated to helping people find love makes us stand out. But at the same time we are, despite our size, a very entrepreneurial company.

What does the rest of 2013 hold for your company?

Our recent launches in the UK and Ireland have been successful, so we are now preparing to start our service in Australia and New Zealand