Position & Company: Founder, DateinaDash
Period of time in the role: 4 years
Twitter ID: @dateinadash
Can you describe your role and what you do?
I’m the founder of DateinaDash, a London-based speed dating company. I manage the day to day running of the business, everything from blowing up balloons, taking telephone bookings & updating the website. The majority of the time I work from home in Surrey, but like to get out to the events where possible.
My day starts at around 9am when I wake up and check my email (and I get A LOT of email!), usually things like password resets or new venues approaching us to run Speed Dating. I spend half an hour on social media, a quick check on what my competitors are up to and then I look at the numbers for the event that night, if we’re low on guys I often have to ring around and offer discounted tickets or sometimes free ones.
Tell us a little about your company.
I founded DateinaDash in 2011 after attending a poorly ran Speed Dating event by another organisation. I quickly realised that there was a huge demand for this type of service and thought that I could do it better.
I started running events at my local pub in South West London and initially offered all the tickets for free via online dating websites and friends. I was quite naÃ¯ve to the how the events industry worked and actually paid £200 to hire a function room for my first event! Of course, now all our events work on a minimum spend agreement which keeps our overheads to a minimum.
I wanted to stand out from the regular Speed Dating events other companies were hosting so started running unique events like Bowling Parties, Wine Tasting & Pub Crawls. Word of mouth quickly spread and before long went from hosting two events a month to two a week, and spread to other areas including Clapham & Surbiton. I quickly learnt how to do SEO and managed to rank the website #1 for ‘Speed Dating London’ and lots of other terms. We soon found ourselves being approached by television shows and were featured on the X-Factor, Big Brother & Gok Wan.
In 2014 we won the award for the ‘Best Speed Dating Event’ at the UK Dating Awards which was a testament to the hard work we have put in to running the business.DateinaDash has grown rapidly since we launched, and we now have over 15,000 members on our database and host over 25 events each and every month, somewhere across the capital. We pride ourselves on our high quality events, friendly hosts & high success rate! We’ve got our first wedding next year and a DateinaDash baby is well on its way!
How did you get into speed dating?
I was single at the time and a friend of mine talked me into it as something to do for a bit of a laugh. I quickly saw the business opportunity, as I couldn’t believe how many people were at the event (must have been around forty people on a Thursday night!) I did the math in my head and worked out the company must have made about £800 that night. I initially got involved in the events as a way to meet people and wouldn’t have believed it would end up being my full time job, but I absolutely love it!
What experiences of online dating do you hear from people who attend your events?
The main gripe for women is that a lot of guys are just looking for hook ups. When you finally get talking to someone who seems normal, you can spend a few weeks getting to know them online and when you meet up you discover something about them that puts you off. Speed dating works because it puts you face to face with people and you can instantly discover if there is any chemistry. The majority of people who attend our events recommend Speed Dating over online dating.
Is the speed dating industry growing?
It’s definitely growing, as we’ve doubled our numbers year on year. We currently host more events a month than we’ve ever done before. There are still only a few big players but lots of people are trying to tap into the market via social groups like Meet Up, although the quality of the clientele is low. Even the big dating companies like Match.com have started running live events, so that tells you where the industry is heading.
What do you think are the main problems in the online dating industry?
I think online dating is a significant investment of time. It takes time to create a profile, search for people, initiate the conversation, arrange a date and discover if you like them. I certainly think the paid websites like Match.com & eHarmony need to change their model if they are to survive in the new era of apps like Tinder. I also think there are a lot of fake profiles, scammers and cheats, and it’s hard to distinguish between the real, genuine people and the frauds.
What online dating services do you admire in the industry?
I definitely admire PlentyOfFish because it was built by one person with no investors (like most start-ups now) and ended up being the largest dating site in the world. It’s such an easy to use website and has a great app. In fact, Markus started running live events long before anyone, via user hosted nights.
Do you plan, or have you made, any partnerships with dating sites?
We were actually approached by PlentyOfFish who were interested in buying DateinaDash last year, but they pulled out. We work with a few third party websites like onlineandspeeddating.com where we list our events and they earn commission. We are always seeking out new partnerships with other dating websites if they can add value to our business.
What sets your company apart from others in the speed dating space?
Firstly our venues, we’ve worked very hard to source the best bars and clubs for our events. We run Speed Dating at the Kensington Roof Gardens, Mahiki & Shaka Zulu some of the most exclusive places to be in London. Our customers want to meet people in nice surroundings and not some dingy pub on a back street. We try and run events for people of all ages and offer a wide range of events. I think the real difference between DateinaDash and the other companies is the quality of the customers and our fantastic hosts who really do make the night!
What does the rest of 2015 hold for your company?
We’ve got another few busy months ahead and are looking forward to hosting our first New Year’s Eve Singles Party and then we’re into the busiest period of the year. We’re currently working on a top secret project which we feel is going to change the Speed Dating industry forever!
Find more information, visit DateinaDash’s official site here.