OPW INTERVIEW - Aug 13 - eDarling recently pared away from eHarmony and is independent again, and ready to compete internationally. eDarling launched in the UK recently and is now open for business in 22 countries. Here’s their founding story, from Affinitas co-founder Lukas Brosseder. - Mark Brooks
This is our first interview with eDarling. What’s your founding story?
David Khalil and myself founded the company in November 2008. In Europe, we didn't see a true matchmaking company. Here, it was always a combination of a dating site and a personality questionnaire, but not a true matchmaking service, and existing players weren’t very innovative. None of the matchmaking sites such as Parship in Germany and eHarmony in the U.S. were able to go international. We believed that this was possible, and that was our idea. In May 2009, 6 months after the launch in Germany, we were live in 4 other countries.
Would you say that your product and philosophy is different from the likes of Parship and eHarmony?
What distinguishes us is a very true matchmaking system. We are focusing on delivering very good matches. You only get 7 initial matches when you finish our relationship questionnaire. We pride ourselves in the quality of the matches, and the communications.
eHarmony has been a big part of us for a very long time, and we have grown together in a lot of ways. Initially, they were one of our biggest heroes. Our matchmaking system is very different from the eHarmony system.
Let's talk about matchmaking then. What is your philosophy; what kind of basis do you focus on for the matchmaking?
All the other larger competitors’ matchmaking is based on the big five model. We truly believe in compatibility and being matched based on having similar interests and personality traits. We have several innovative algorithms implemented that understandably I can not talk about in detail. A big part of the secret sauce are the users on the site, and here we pride ourselves on having a high educated, extremely dedicated user base. I think that also is a big part of our success.
Recently you parted ways with eHarmony. Could you give us some more insight on why, and what happened?
We parted on very good terms on either side. I think the main reason for the parting was Dr. Neil Clark Warren’s strategy to decrease eHarmony’s international footprint. We wanted to grow internationally. It was a good way and good timing for everyone to take different routes and to take different strategies.
How many countries are you in now?
We launched in UK and Ireland just a couple weeks ago, and now we're in 22 countries.
Congratulations on entering UK and Ireland. How did that go, and how did you seed into those countries from scratch?
We have done this 20 times before. We know how to grow business internationally. With UK and Ireland, it was the same set up as it was with Hungary, Finland, Denmark, and Slovakia, which all were launched at the beginning of this year. We make the site free and spend significant 5-digit marketing budgets per day to build up a user base. When we have a user base and also activity on the platform that is sufficient, we start to charge.
What is eDarling going to look like in a year or so's time?
We will grow further international. We just launched in Ireland and UK which is the largest dating market in Europe. So there are a lot of things to do. We won't rule out launching in more countries in Europe. We also see opportunities in South America.