“I met my spouse online” is a phrase SouthAfricans will become more and more used to hearing if Dave Burstein and DuncanForrest, co-founders of online dating website DatingBuzz, have anything to dowith it. Forrest, who met his wife Melinda through DatingBuzz, is one of agrowing number of people who have proved that Internet dating is more effective– and mainstream – than people might initially have believed.
Forrest and Burstein, both electronicengineers with experience in interactive design, launched DatingBuzz in 2002.“There were a couple of overseas dating companies that were starting to doreally well, particularly in the USand Australia.Although the numbers were initially quite small, they were definitely headingin the right direction,” explains Burstein. He talks about the considerationsin setting up the website: “Functionality was a key issue – we looked at whatwould work from a user perspective. And we never looked at whether we could dosomething as well as everyone else; we wanted to do what other dating sitesdid, only better.”As the biggest dating site in South Africa, with 45 million pages and fivemillion user sessions a month, as well as formidable presence in the UK, Irelandand Australia,Burstein and Forrest have achieved that goal. DatingBuzz is differentiated fromits competitors on a number of important points. It was the first professionaldating site to offer a uniquely local feel; billing is in rands, not dollars,and it’s clear that the designers understand local geography. But moreimportantly, its key differentiator has been its approach to matchmaking. Thesophisticated matching technology (created in-house along with everything else)allows users to be highly specific about what constitutes their “ideal match”.
Burstein explains: “Once people set uptheir own profile, they specify what they are looking for in an ideal partner accordingto a range of characteristics. But our software allows them to weight each ofthese characteristics according to how important they are to the user. So‘non-smoker’ might be a non-negotiable while age range may only be moderatelyimportant.” DatingBuzz calculates as a percentage how suitable other membersmay be for that user and cross-correlates how suitable the user is for thesepeople, according to their “ideal match” requirements. Members can sendanonymous messages to each other through the site and decide from there whetherthey want to take things further. DatingBuzz’s confidentiality policy means itnever reveals anyone’s identity or details to anyone else.Scalability is a challenge for any businessbut particularly one so reliant on technology. “We reached a point fairlyquickly in the early days where we needed to make some technological decisionsregarding scalability,” Burstein says. “The model we now have is virtuallyinfinitely scalable; if the need arises we simply drop in more servers for morecapacity.” The company leases all its technology.
The site’s success is also due in part tothe business’s value capture model. As Burstein explains, “One of the biggestchallenges is marketing a website. Unless you have really deep pockets, youfind yourself in a bit of a catch 22 situation; you need the traffic togenerate revenue but you need the revenue to generate the traffic.” To overcomethe marketing challenge, he and Forrest took a decision early on to “whitelabel” (re-brand) the site. This meant that South African (and laterinternational) media sites with an existing presence and user base could offera dating service; they brand the outer “skin” of the site but the content isthe same as users would find on the DatingBuzz-branded site. DatingBuzz paysthese media partners a percentage of the revenue generated from each of theirsites. The result is that virtually every media company in South Africa,and many online companies overseas, offer an internet dating service that usesDatingBuzz.
The company’s other income stream comes inthe form of membership fees. Users can sign up for free, remain a non-payinguser indefinitely and enjoy all the services offered by the site, but to send amessage to another user, they need to become a member. Subscriptions aretime-based and range from R89,95 for one month to R649,95 for 12 months. Themodel not only gives users a risk-free chance to determine how well the sitemight work, but it also offers a strong incentive to subscribe.Having overcome the start-up challenges ofestablishing a successful dating site in what was an initially scepticalmarket, Burstein and Forrest are mindful of the challenges that lie ahead. “Wealways have to be aware that we are researchable by others, so we arecontinually improving the functionality and user experience on the site. It’sall about staying ahead of the game,” says Burstein.
How Nic Haralambous Launched His 6 Year In The Making, Overnight Success
Nic Haralambous launched 8 failing businesses. He used the lessons learnt from that failure to ensure the success of his new business Nic Harry.
Nic Haralambous, the founder and CEO of Nic Harry who started off selling bamboo socks online and now has brick and mortar stores with a larger product range around the country. Nic has also written a book titled Do. Fail. Learn. Repeat. which is a brutally honest look at entrepreneurship and follows Nic’s entrepreneurial journey. Learn from his failures and how he used them as the foundation of his success.
Related: (Podcast) Speak More Honestly
Vuyo Tofile Of EntBanc Group Talks About Finding Solutions And Partnering To Offer The Most Value
Vuyo Tofile offers his advice on how to know if you’re ready to scale and how to get it right the first time.
Vuyo Tofile, CEO of EntBanc Group (Pty) Ltd, which is a privately held enterprise and financial technology group. They empower small businesses with the right tools including products such as mySMEtools, which is used by over 46 000 small businesses. Learn about partnering for success, develop tools and resources that your customer base needs, and how can you scale?
Eben Uys Shares His Concept Behind Mad Giant Brewery And How You Can Make Your Business Stand Out In A Crowd
“You just need to start” says Eben Uys, don’t make up excuses why you aren’t ready. Just start.
Eben Uys, Co-founder and CEO of Mad Giant, a Brewery in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa. Eben brings new life to craft beer and has made his brewery and restaurant Urbanologi, a destination hub. His advice: “You can do things that give you short-term gains, but it might not benefit you in the long term. Try a lot of things over a long period of time and build a reputation and a network.”
Lessons Learnt1 week ago
Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage
Increase Profitability2 days ago
Leon Meyer GM At Westin Cape Town Shares 4 Experience-Driven Tips On How To Keep Your Team Productive
How to Guides2 weeks ago
The 10 Most Reliable Ways To Fund A Start-up
Celebrity Businesses2 hours ago
11 Celebrities That Are Profiting From Their Investments In The Lucrative Pot Industry
Cool Offices4 days ago
6 Companies With Amazing Office Layouts To Inspire Your Office Redesign
Company Posts2 weeks ago
Building Customer Relationships
Self Development1 week ago
(Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas
Entrepreneur Today1 week ago
How Are South Africans Feeling About The Work Environment?