OPW INTERVIEW - Oct 29 - Single.dk is one of the two biggest dating sites in Denmark. Here is our interview with Rune Heickendorf, CEO of Single.dk. - Irena Brooks
What is Single.dk founding story?
Single.dk was one of the online dating pioneers in Scandinavia. The site, formerly Netdate.dk, was founded in 1999. At that time, the only competitor was Dating.dk, who quickly acquired the new player on the Danish market. Netdate.dk had been living a rather silent life until 2007 when my two partners and I bought a 50% stake of the company, and started the growth strategy that has led to its current position as one of the market leaders in Denmark. In 2012 we renamed Netdate.dk to Single.dk and increased our visibility through several TV campaigns. We've been profitable for 7 years in a row now and are seeing triple-digit growth this year.
Single.dk is partly owned by Dating.dk, can you tell us more about Dating.dk and the deal?
You can say we live in a complicated but happy marriage. Our rather unusual company structure tends to create some natural turbulence from time to time, which can be both healthy and disruptive. Our partnership with Freeway (the company behind Dating.dk) started in 2005 when they took over 50% of our gay dating site Albert.dk. They were also involved in another niche dating site we originally started in corporation with the major media conglomerate Egmont Media Group. Later on, we acquired 50% of Single.dk from Freeway. So they own 100% of the country's most well-consolidated and stable dating brand and 50% of the second largest and fastest growing dating site in the nation.
What is Dating.dk/Single.dk market share?
We have no valid traffic or revenue data on our international competitors, so it would be nothing but guesswork. I can say with high certainty that we dominate the market.
What is your business model?
To provide a service people love to use and charge a fee. We have a strict pay wall policy, and only allow paying members to communicate with each other. We haven't found it very difficult to convert our premium-model onto mobile devices.
How would you say the Danish market is different from the US market? What do you think is the biggest challenge for sites like Match.com/Meetic entering this market?
They are entering the market instead of evolving from within the market. The Scandinavian audience has a distinct sense for their regional cultural values, and appreciate brands that feels familiar from first sight and speaks their language in every term. You can't really compensate that with a giant marketing budget. That’s why most Swedes still prefer Volvo over Volkswagen, and also why the typical Danish single feel like he belongs on Single.dk rather than Match.com. Besides that, Denmark is a small market that has already been extremely saturated by Single.dk and Dating.dk.
Do you have a presence in Norway and Sweden? If not, are you planning on entering these markets as well?
At the moment we focus only on the Danish market. We prefer to earn every cent before we spend it, so we haven't looked for venture funding that would have allowed us to expand rapidly on many markets. But we do have specific plans about how and when we're going to enter the other Nordic countries.
Who do you consider to be your direct competitor in Denmark?
The only players who has real loyalty from the Danish audience is Dating.dk and Single.dk, but we don't really consider each other as competitors. We focus jointly to avoid international competitors from entering the market, rather than fighting each other.