Name: Emma Forsyth
Position & Company: Founder, Tribe London
Twitter ID: @tribelondon
Can you give a brief description of Tribe London and what it does?
At Tribe we’re giving traditional dating a shot in the arse. We work with multiple creative partners, from Bompas & Parr to Blanch & Shock, to produce bespoke group dates for six at London’s hottest venues, experiences and events. We pair two groups of three friends together based on their shared interest in the same type of date, and ensure that all Tribe dates are bespoke, high quality and relaxed.
Why did you launch the service? Was there a specific inspiration?
As a born and bred Londoner, I feel that single city living poses two big questions; when faced with so much choice, how do you find the perfect place to go? And, when faced with so little time, how do you meet the perfect person?
In an effort to answer both these questions, most of us plough through lists of new pop-ups, private members clubs and playhouses, whilst simultaneously app-shopping for lovers on late night commutes. It has made proactively planning your spare time a second job, and even the quick fix apps aren’t really helping us find those genuine gems.
As a result, I wanted to create an excuse to effortlessly explore more of London and meet more likeminded single people in the process. What I didn’t want was the desperation of a matchmaking service or the awkwardness of one-on-one dating. And so, Tribe was born.
What are the main advantages of group dating in today’s society?
At Tribe we’ve made the move towards group dating to tackle the awkwardness of one-on-one dating. I’ve lost count of the number of bad dates I’ve had and I don’t think I’m in the minority. The increased focus on looks over shared interests in the last five years has brought the likelihood of quality of conversation and real life chemistry on a date down. It’s led to an abundance of over-filtered selfies, stale conversation and awkward after work drinks. It’s just dire.
With Tribe, we pair groups of friends together so that everyone feels more relaxed, drops their inhibitions and the whole interaction becomes more genuine. With less pressure on the need to impress, three options rather than one, and a stimulating environment, we’re finding that second and even third dates are becoming common practice, which is something else Tribe London can help with.
Additionally, as a women, I feel that group dating gives an added sense of safety and security that allows women to be more adventurous and more themselves on a date. Meeting a relative stranger off the internet on your own can make you feel exposed, which is bound to affect how you initially come across.
Why do you think we’ve seen an emergence of so-called “on-demand” dating?
Apps like Tinder have a lot of toing and froing before actually securing a date. For most people this is exactly what they want, because it’s a lot easier than actually getting to know someone face to face (so jumping straight to the date was bound to be the next step in dating).
Do you think singles are disillusioned by apps like Tinder?
I do. I think the initial intrigue around these apps is fading. We’ve all tried them, and although there are urban legends of matches, the real life reality is a lot of stagnant texting and awkward hookups. I can’t remember the last time a friend went on an actual Tinder or Happn ‘date’ (I’m talking drinks by the river, not a 2am kebab at theirs). There are several reasons why these apps are seeing a kick back but, more generally, I think people are tired of quantity over quality now.
Who do you consider to be your biggest competitors?
I always keep an eye on Social Concierge. I feel that they’re also putting edgy glamour back into dating and are tailored for people who don’t want to trawl sites and apps for dates. I love their stance and attitude and feel we’re very close in nature. Grouper have been upping their game lately and the introduction of Match.com events shows they’re making an effort to control the date experience their customers are having offline too.
However, on a day to day basis I feel like Tribe competes harder against the ‘on demand’ apps. When they make hooking up so easy, it’s hard to cut through, especially to new male members. I want to show that audience that dating isn’t just multiple shallow experiences between two people projecting a perfect profile version of themselves. It used to be about physical face-to-face chemistry, natural companionship and having a mini adventure together. I want to bring that back!
What sets Tribe London aside from its competitors?
There are two unique approaches Tribe takes to dating. Firstly, we’re finding and creating high quality, unique dates so our busy members don’t have to. And, secondly, we pair groups with similar interests. Adventure and intrigue are key to our members, who are always looking to try something new. We’ve found this shared attitude leads to successful pairings because it’s not all about looks, it’s about encouraging chemistry in a fantastic environment.
What do you think are the industry’s biggest problems?
The fastidious process of dating which has taken over in the last few years. Swipe, match, chat, repeat. Churning out dates with different people every week is taking out the thrill of actually liking someone. It’s become about hooking up where as there are so many people looking to secure those second and third dates.
Tribe is about putting the excitement back into dating by making sure that each date is a unique experience, where the chances of a second date are improved significantly as people spend the time getting to know one another with their friends, rather than meeting with all the small talk having already happened.
Have you raised any funding to expand Tribe London?
We’re brand new so are fully focused on getting out of the starting blocks at the moment.
How big is the Tribe London team? What are your backgrounds in?
At the moment it’s just me, but I work daily with fantastic teams at both Ampersand Mobile and Manifest, who all feel like part of the family. I spent five years in advertising working with a lovely mix of brands from small startups to behemoths like Coca-Cola. I loved every minute and achieved a lot of my personal goals in that industry, however, Tribe is an idea that I desperately wanted to bring to life. This year felt like just the right timing for the concept so I had to jump in.
Do you have plans to expand Tribe London into new markets?
The aim is to roll out across numerous cities worldwide. This would mean that our members would get the most out of the other cities they visit. Our busiest members, business travellers, will particularly benefit from this by making the most of their downtime while away.
How many active users does the platform have at the moment?
We currently run three dates each week for approximately 20 people.
What date nights are you currently offering?
As we pair people based on interests, we always make sure to have a variety of experiences on offer. Currently we have VIP access to Bompas & Parr’s Alcoholic Architecture, intimate cooking lessons with the incredible Blanch & Shock at The Future Laboratory, Spectre themed dinner parties at private members club, LIBRARY and casual wine tastings at Vinoteca’s soho residence. You can explore them all here: https://www.tribelondon.co.uk/search.
How do you plan to acquire more users? What are you marketing strategies? (advertising, PR etc.)
I want to attract the type of singles who don’t consider themselves traditional “online daters” and who want an “access all areas” pass to the most interesting experiences in London. As a result, in our soft launch we will be targeting them through their favourite trend hunters, secret London specialists and lifestyle sites and blogs.
What are your plans for the platform over the next year?
We’re aiming to build out partners to deliver the best dating experiences in the city and will be looking oversees for our first international expansion.
Find out more about Tribe London here.