GLOBAL EDGE -- Sep 25 -- Darren Richards grew Dating Direct from nothing into the UK's largest dating site with over 4m monthly users. He sold out to Meetic for £30m in 2007. He talks to Globaledge about his plans to repeat his success in the property portal market with PropertyIndex.com.
Q: How running a dating site compares to operating a property portal?
A: The challenges are actually very similar. Both businesses are about using the internet to bring people together, either on a date or introducing buyers to sellers in the case of property.
Q: You had first-mover advantage back in the nineties with Dating Direct. It must be very different working in such a saturated market?
A: We always put the user at the heart of the online experience and stayed two steps ahead of the competition.
Q: How do you plan to do this with PropertyIndex?
A: We have over 150,000 properties from over 1,000 agents. We offer agents very competitive pricing but we realise that we need to be more innovative, both in terms of our offering to consumers and agents.
Q: For example?
A: On the consumer side, we have a number of Web 2.0 innovations in the pipeline and we plan to go further than anyone else in this respect. I'm a big fan of sites like TripAdvisor.
Q: Is there anything you can tell me about your plans to improve your proposition to agents and developers?
A: Our lead numbers are growing rapidly at the moment which is ultimately what agents judge us on. Leads were up 70% between July and August and so far for September, we are 25% ahead of where we were last month. In terms of improving the proposition, we recently introduced featured positions and branding on a cost-per-click basis which is something most other portals don't do. Pay-per-performance is generally what agents want and we'll continue to innovate with this in mind.
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