OPW INTERVIEW -- July 25 -- When users sign up for internet dating sites, I don’t think they realise that its not ‘instant gratification.’ They have to invest time into the internet dating process. Done For You Dating takes the time investment away from end users. Agents pose as users. Its a little controversial to say the least. Here’s my interview with the CEO and Founder, Luke Chao. Your comments please… - Mark Brooks
Why did you start Done For You Dating?
I’ve had a hypnotherapy center in Toronto for the past 3 years. It takes up a lot of my time. So I said to my secretary Sue one day, “Why don’t you write a profile for me on LavaLife?” because I bought a lot of credits and I’ve had them sitting in the account for about half a year and never did anything with them. She wrote the profile and asking me, “What do I do next?” I said, “Why don’t you find some women who match these criteria and write to them?” It got to the point where we had a lot of back and forth conversations about what I was looking for and she was able to represent me very well.
It worked for me and I realized that there have to be other people who could benefit from the same service. So in April of this year I registered the domain. I started representing some friends of mine to see how it works. Because it worked for my friends as well, I then decided to launch Done For You Dating. So far the service is very new and we just started advertising on a prominent website.
How does the service work from the user perspective?
It’s not quite a matchmaker service and not quite a secretary or virtual assistant. It is something that is so new to people that they have to understand what it is about.
When people decide they want to sign up for the service, we spend about 1 to 2 hours talking with them and asking them questions about their tastes in music, film, food, places they’ve been, etc. Sue picks up the phone and she role plays a date with them which ensures an easy transition from online to offline.
After the profile is set up, we begin to send out messages on behalf of the client. Those messages are initially screened by the client and then after the client says, Okay, you can represent me well”, then we represent them like Sue represents me. We send the client photos and a profile of a woman he might be interested in. If the client says yes and the woman says “Yes, let’s meet up”, then we bill the client for the work we did and they take it from there.
I love the fact that you do the screening of the communication. There are a lot of people out there that don’t have time and they just want to go out and date. They want to use Internet dating because it’s really a value and a lot less expensive than a matchmaker. But my concern with the service is misrepresentation. When you did this with your secretary, at what stage did you let the dates know that this wasn’t you? Or did you at all?
I didn’t, actually. My philosophy is that in this case the end justifies the means. Of course, I make sure that everything that Sue sends out represents me accurately and fairly. We don’t have anybody in house right now who specialized in coaching men in dating. Sue is a young woman and she can play the role of a date and provide critiques and feedback to the client. So that is the service we offer right now. But definitely in the future, if we can also help the client be a better date then I think it will benefit both the client and the women that they meet.
What is the cost now? What kind of pricing do you think you’re going to be charging in a few months time once you’ve got the service really up and running?
Right now the most important thing is that we get clients. Until the end of July, there is no set up fee. It means we set up the profile, interview the client, we begin to find matches at no cost. We get paid when we present the match to the client and the client says, “Yes, I like her and want to go out with her.”
What do you have in mind for that, how much?
$200 to $300 for the profile writing, photo retouching services and getting to know the client. Then after that it’s $247 US per date. If the client just wants the phone number and take it from there then it’s $197. But those prices are based on the time it takes to set up a date.
Have you had any difficulties so far with working with the dating sites? How would you like to work with them?
There is one dating site we’re working with right now. I first contacted them because I wanted to advertise on the site. I told them about the service and asked if they were okay with this. They said “Yes, absolutely”. I described it as beneficial. Our service keeps people on the sites. Also the quality of the profiles, pictures and the messages improve as a result of the service.