Last month M14 Industries sponsored the European Dating Conference 2017 in Amsterdam run by The Dating Awards. There were some fascinating talks from a variety of voices in the Dating Industry, and we saw attendees from over 15 different countries.

We’ll be taking an in-depth look at each speaker and panel over the coming weeks, including video footage for those of you who couldn’t make it to Amsterdam. Until then, here’s a quick round up of the speakers from the M14 European Dating Conference.

Robyn Exton – CEO of HER 

Can dating and social ever work together in the same product?

That was the question explored by Robyn Exton, founder and CEO of the dating app for queer women, HER. In answering that question, Robyn discussed HER’s journey from dating, to social and back to dating.

During her talk Robyn discussed how HER explores the possibility of both dating and social existing in one product through active engagement with the community. HER allows users to host events worldwide – to put an actual stat to that; 23 major cities, 40 events and 15,000 attendees in total. That’s an impressive amount of community engagement.

Robyn talked about the origins of HER, initially launched as Dattch before being re-branded following a hugely successful funding round.

Whilst HER focuses heavily on the social side, with frequent events and meet ups, all the users have that intrinsic queer link. It’s that link that encourages the dating side. HER isn’t just about swiping, it’s about people meeting and connecting.


Geoff Cook – CEO of The Meet Group

Consolidating a fragmented Landscape

Geoff Cook discussed what The Meet Group looks for in acquisition of apps, including their acquisition of Skout and if(we).

To answer that question right off the bat, the key factors The Meet Group considers for acquisition are; an engaged and large scale community, an understandable business model and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) performance in year one and beyond.

Interesting stats from Geoff’s talk showed that people use an average of approximately 3.4 dating apps at a time. The importance of this figure can’t be underestimated in acquisition, if one wants to bring in the highest pool of engaged and active users.

However, interestingly Geoff mentioned that the best apps to acquire, though well established, are often under optimised. Perhaps this leaves room for improvement?


Mike Bandar – Owner of Toyboy Warehouse

Is the online dating industry its own worst enemy?

Mike Bandar’s ‘Datepocalypse’ might seem like an overly dramatic title, but when one considers this point it seems fairly apt…

Success to our customers is failure to our industry.

Whilst that may sound unusual, for the dating industry this is actually true. The more customers using our apps that meet someone, the less users we have on our apps. Effectively by doing our jobs well we are limiting our user bases, effectively shooting ourselves in the foot.

Mike’s talk concerned extending the lifetime value of a product in spite of this, reducing churn rate and increasing smart customer acquisition.


Justin Gerrard – Creator of Bae and if(we), Marketing & Growth at The Meet Group

The three marketing strategies which led to the growth of Bae – press, influencer marketing & events

Bae became a success through great PR, that was the topic co-founder Justin Gerrard discussed. It all started with himself and two others.

Similar to HER, Bae arrived by finding a gap in the industry that for some reason hadn’t been filled;

We created Bae because there’s an unfortunate bias against black singles in dating apps.

With that in mind, it was exciting to hear about the success of Bae over the course of Justin’s talk.

The key areas for success with Bae were discovering what kind of press works, getting press coverage for free and nurturing those press relationships for future growth. This largely involved finding and working with key influencers within the community.

One of the key areas of successful PR for Bae was authentic stories – being a group of black developers looking to solve black issues in online dating provided that.

 

Interestingly, controversial article titles also helped. See the image below for more information there…


PR Panel – Robyn Exton, Charreah Jackson (Essence Magazine), Mike Bandar and Justin Gerrard – chaired by Charly Lester

The PR Panel, first panel of the day, saw Mike Bandar, Justin Gerrard and Robyn Exton return to the stage alongside Charreah Jackson of Essence Magazine.


Vera Ivashchenko – Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook

Facebook and online dating – it’s a match!

Mobile devices are peoples everyday companion and the place to reach them with your business. Find out how by learning about the most popular apps, messenger bots and the largest opportunities to export in new markets.


Michael Schrezenmaier – Elite Singles

Creating a Global Leader in Premium Dating

Stepping in for Jeronimo Folgueira, who unfortunately couldn’t attend, Managing Director Michael Schrezenmaier stepped in to talk about the recent merger of the Affinitas and Spark Networks.


Video Panel  – Charreah Jackson, Geoff Cook, Michael Gennitti (co-founder ShowReal) – chaired by Andrew McClelland, ODA

Charreah Jackson returned for another panel, this time discussing the importance of video in the online dating industry. Joining in on the discussion we had Geoff Cook and Michael Gennitti of ShowReal.

People don’t think of videos just being their television anymore. They think of instagram, snapchat, and mobile. – Michael, Showreal


Grant Langston – CEO of eHarmony

We’re Not Selling Shoes – Making a Real Difference with Online Relationships

An amazing opportunity to create better outcomes…

Grant Langston fronted the final talk of the day before the closing panel. Grant’s discussion centred around the responsibility companies have when trying to create more love in the world.

One area Grant explored was the reasons that people may have for not using dating sites.

People want to use our services, but statistics show they’re just scared.

The main reasons being worries about fake accounts, dangers of meeting people online, no one using them to seek serious relationships, not wanting to be judged on looks and appearing desperate. In the dating industry, we have the opportunity to change those views and make online dating a safe and welcoming space for everyone.


Final Panel – Grant Langston, Robyn Exton and Geoff Cook – chaired by Charly Lester

Ending the Dating Conference with a final panel, Grant Langston returned with Robyn Exton and Geoff Cook. The Final Panel covered everything from PR to advice for people in the dating industry.

One audience member asked the panel what advice the panel wish they’d received at day one…

Look what other companies are doing, learn from that. Scale is the ultimate game here, you need to hit large scale. You can find a better experience than if you’re crafting too much – Robyn Exton.

Raise as little funding as possible initially… Avoid over-raising – Geoff Cook

Spend some time working on your narrative before you spend time working on your business – Grant Langston


After a series of deep and engaging talks the M14 Dating Conference 2017 ended and the European Dating Awards 2017 began.

We’d like to thank our amazing speakers at the Conference and everyone that came to hear what they had to see. We’re looking forward to hopefully seeing you next year, where you can do more networking in the sun, meet your dating industry heroes and get to know more about the journeys of those working in the industry.