For single entrepreneurs, the dating game offers unique challenges. The long hours, obsession with work and unpredictable lifestyle are all factors that can interfere with a single date, not to mention the delicate process of building a relationship.
Some entrepreneurs are tackling these dating challenges in the same way they handle their business: once you see a need in the marketplace, you find a way to fill it. Of course, dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony.com are well known, but here are the stories of two love-seeking sites created by entrepreneurs exclusively for entrepreneurs -- with some pretty impressive results.
Looking to explore the online dating industry, 34-year-old entrepreneur Benji Kurtz launched a handful of niche dating sites in 2001 focused on everything from religious backgrounds to physical stature, such as height and size. Over the next 10 years, Kurtz's love businesses grew to include more than 1,000 sites in about 100 different niches. Though Kurtz declined to disclose revenues, he says his online dating services have been profitable from the start. And it was in 2005 that Kurtz recognized the need to launch an entrepreneur-specific dating site, which he aptly named EntrepreneurDate.com.
"Although not single myself, it was clear that entrepreneurs who were single and looking just didn't have the time to dedicate to complicated registration processes, nor fool with the trivialities attached to the mainstream dating sites," he says. "We wanted to create a reputable site for entrepreneurs -- and those interested in them."
Today there are 160,000 members on EntrepreneurDate.com (not to be confused with EntrepreneurDating.com, a newer site with about a 1,000 members whose owner declined to be interviewed).
Kurtz uses a freemium business model, so he makes money if members choose to upgrade from the free basic membership. "We calculate the percentage of free members who choose to upgrade," Kurtz says. "And as long as our average cost per site visitor stays below our average revenue per visitor, we're in good shape."
Kurtz and his wife Claire, also an entrepreneur, live in Atlanta with their two cats.
When Connie Kelly's son David divorced in 2008 after a decade-long marriage, it sparked a business idea. David, a 32-year-old entrepreneur who owns an alarm company, was having trouble finding time in his hectic schedule to get back into the dating scene. So Kelly did what most moms would do: find a way to help. But Kelly didn't just set him up, she set up an entire business. MatchmakingInc.com, a dating site focused squarely on entrepreneurs, was born.
"Unlike those with a regular day job, entrepreneurs are so absorbed by their work that it makes it difficult to date someone who is not tuned into that," says Kelly, 51, who lives in San Francisco Bay area. "The site helps people find others with similar qualities who have a tolerance for the entrepreneur lifestyle."
Beyond profiles, MatchmakingInc.com also outlines entrepreneurial personality traits. A 60-day trial is free; then members pay a monthly fee. While the service is still in its infancy with about 250 members, Kelly is looking to sell it and get into other entrepreneurial ambitions. After all she already accomplished her primary mission. Her son did, in fact, meet a woman through the site and they have been dating for about a year.
"She's not an entrepreneur but was interested in meeting someone goal-oriented and thought an entrepreneur would be an interesting match," Kelly says. "She is amazingly supportive and quite patient with my son's demanding work schedule, I guess she knew what she was getting herself into."
Social Media's Love Connections
While some business owners are banking on the business of love, others are connecting with like-minded single entrepreneurs through social networks.
Meetup.com offers anyone the chance to put together their own group based on any interest or niche, and single entrepreneurs have done just that. For example, a meetup of Southern California-based single entrepreneurs was started three years ago by Gina Woodruff, 45, who owns AIM Living Services, a support service for adults with developmental and physical challenges. "If one joins a meetup, he or she can regularly encounter some of the same people over time with no awkwardness of a blind date," Woodruff says.
"Relationships can develop more naturally," adds Dan Wright, a 30-something entrepreneur who attends a similar meetup in Orlando, Fla."It's a lot less stressful -- you're not on a date with anyone."
Facebook also has pages devoted to single entrepreneurs, including one called -- simply -- Single Entrepreneurs. However, this group appears to be in its puppy love stages, as only a handful of people are listed as members so far.