“We met when we both joined the graduate programme at Morgan Stanley. That was an incredible time to join the investment banking industry, with the collapse of first Bear Stearns and then Lehman Brothers. We both knew months before leaving in June this year that we wanted to work together on something different, but we spent months working out what.
“We decided to leave the bank and set up our company to help transform the online dating experience for such people, after we realised how difficult it can be to meet the right new people when time is tight; an amazing number of City colleagues seemed to be in that same position.
“One of the biggest drawbacks to online dating services is that creating a profile simply takes too long for many users, while the huge number of potential matches to sift through can feel a little like searching for a specific item in a gigantic supermarket with no signs on the aisles. We aim to improve the process by effectively becoming our members online and guaranteeing them dates. Our expert dating agents have an interactive call with each member to get to know them in-depth, before creating a profile for the member – which they have a chance to see and veto – and then filtering the matches and organising the dates. All our members have to do is turn up for the date.
“There was a gap in the market for such a service that sits between the bigger and cheaper mass-market dating sites and the top-end players. The company is aimed at people in the City, so we asked what people thought would be an appropriate price scale. We offer a choice of three packages costing from $300 to $1,200 per month, with each including a dedicated dating agent, a guaranteed number of dates each month and other options.
“The guarantee makes it all the more important that not only are we careful to ensure our clients’ expectations are realistic, but [we] also perform comprehensive background checks.
“Neither of us has a technology background, having studied international business and international relations, so we consulted web designers and conducted a lot of market research before launching last month. The hardest thing so far has been recruitment. We now have a team of experienced writers and dating professionals who handle the dating lives of our clients.
“We have already learnt a huge amount along the way, and we are having a lot of fun, not least because we have left the 5.30am alarm calls and one-hour commutes behind! We were both determined that our first company would be truly our own, so we have no external stakeholders. Without having spent years in the banking industry before striking out in a different direction, that means the budget is quite tight, but we’re determined to make this work. Going back to banking is not an option.”