MONEY WEEK - Dec 23 - In 1999 Ross Wiliams began to design and build websites for small firms based around Plymouth University. His firm, Rawnet, grew fast and he took on his first employee while still at university and in a couple of years he had 20 staff. The only problem with the business was that "it wasn't profitable". Rawnet had annual sales of £2M, but was "living from project to project". So in 2003, he decided to set up a dating website. He had to finance the new site, Singles365.com, with credit cards. He decided to make the software program that Singles365.com used available to competitors – for a price. The service, Whitelabeldating.com, was "a platform for brands and individuals to power their own dating sites". Global Personals – the holding company for his dating services – was soon making more than Rawnet. Williams sold his controlling stake in Rawnet to a senior employee and decided to concentrate on dating. In the last three years more than 5,000 online dating sites around the world have partnered with Global Personals. Global Personals now employs 80 staff and generates annual sales of £20M.
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