Every fortnight, we do a quick five minute interview with a different, inspirational member of the dating industry. This time we chat to Free Dating Platform CEO Tim Taylor.
1) So Tim, FDP has gone through some changes recently. Tell us more about the brand …
In its simplest form, FDP’s strategic aim is to have a dating service that’s right for anyone, regardless of their lifestyle, circumstance, budget, relationship ambitions or preferred device.
In reality, that’s a difficult aim to deliver on, and it’s been a busy and exciting couple of years for us. FDP now owns and operates over 400 freemium dating brands in the UK, Australia and the US, including our flagship brands FreeAndSingle, MeetLovelyMe, and FreeLocal.Singles. Beyond freemium, we also own several mainstream and niche premium dating brands.
Underpinning all these brands is the FDP cross-promotion system that binds them all together, presenting them to the right members at the right time in their lifecycle with us. The system also allows us to add new brands quickly into the mix, improving the revenue for that brand and for the group as a whole.
So we’re now well positioned for growth, which we’ll achieve through our existing brands and through acquisition. So exciting times as there’s bags of potential in this space.
2) You had a pretty successful funding round recently. What advice would you offer anyone looking for investment at the moment?
That’s tricky as everyone’s looking for something different when it comes to investment, but I believe these points hold true for anyone:
- Work out your revenue streams as quickly as possible. Our business model changed enormously over the past 12 months, but because we were generating cash from day one, we were never under pressure to raise finance. We were able to do so when we were ready, and on our terms.
- Focus on trends not fads. The “trend” in our industry is that more people are dating on their mobiles and for free. The “fad” is swiping or what’s being offered by the “me too” apps out there. If you have a single product that answers a “fad”, then you’re going to find it tough to get investment.
- In dating, you need a user base, so work out how you’re going to get it before you spend anything on the tech. Think about partnering with companies like FDP to seed your database and help get it off the ground.
- Don’t be precious. Do deals with as many people and companies as you can to get cash flowing through your company.
3) What made you step away from the White Label model?
We always had this strategic aim of having a dating brand for everyone. Working with partners was an amazing experience, but there was a great temptation to be all things to all people, particularly when we were starting out. And that had two downsides. Firstly, you can’t please everyone, so you end up pleasing no-one. Secondly, we drifted from our core aim. We had built this platform which was fantastic at freemium, cross-promotion and data monetisation, but we weren’t in control of it or making the most of it.
So we struck deals with our key partners at the back end of 2016 and took ownership of their freemium brands. We took on all their marketing budgets too, and took control of all their cross-promotion. The result is that we’re now back on track and making great strides again, which is a great feeling.
4) Tell us about MeetLovelyMe. What other tech falls under the FDP umbrella?
MeetLovelyMe (MLM), is our mobile app. It stands as a brand in its own right, and also the mobile app for all our web-based brands. Here’s how it works. When a member of – for example – FreeDatingInBrighton downloads MLM and logs in, she sees the brand “MeetLovelyMe, powered by FreeDatingInBrighton”. All her settings, profile, photos and messages are already loaded into the app, and she can pick up where she left off.
Regardless of the site they first join on our network, all our members are aware of MeetLovelyMe before downloading it, because it is the name of the “swiping game” that features across the entire platform.
Running with this approach has several benefits. For FDP, it enables us to run a single mobile app rather than hundreds, which would be impossible to maintain. It also gave us a populated and active mobile app from Day One, as everyone on the mobile app can connect with those on the web platform, and vice versa. And for the member, it gives them the better mobile experience that they expect and deserve.
5) How can brands in the dating industry get involved with FDP?
The dating industry is fragmented, made up of a one or two giants, and then hundreds of smaller, independent operators. The changing landscape in recent years has made it harder for the independents to prosper and grow. For those who are looking to either become a part of something larger and exciting, who want to discuss a partnership, or who are looking to exit, we’d be interested in talking to you to explore the opportunities.