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'No One Took Me Seriously,' Says Gen Zer Who's Changing How People Date — Now Her Side Hustle Earns Up to $4,000 a Month Maxine Williams was working as a news video producer when she saw an opportunity to help people connect.

By Amanda Breen Edited by Dan Bova

Key Takeaways

  • In 2022, Williams launched We Met IRL, inspired by "a need for an alternative to dating apps."
  • She used her savings to book the first venues and made about $800 a month in the beginning.
  • Today, We Met IRL generates $2,000-$4,000 per month depending on event frequency and turnout.

This Side Hustle Spotlight Q&A features Maxine Williams. She is the founder of We Met IRL, a relationship-building organization that hosts speed dating events, mixers and social gatherings for 25-35-year-olds in New York City, Washington D.C. and additional cities.

Image Credit: Courtesy of We Met IRL. Maxine Williams.

What was your day job (or other sources of income) when you started your side hustle?
I was a news video producer when I started We Met IRL!

When did you start your side hustle, and where did you find the inspiration for it?
I started my side hustle in 2022, though I got the idea towards the end of 2021. I was inspired to create We Met IRL because I felt there was a need for an alternative to dating apps. As a Gen Z woman, dating apps and social media have always been the norm for how we communicate and connect with each other. But during the pandemic, a lot of us realized the true value of face-to-face connections.

Related: Top Secrets to Starting a 6-Figure Etsy Side Hustle That Earns Passive Income, According to 3 People Who Did It

What were some of the first steps you took to get your side hustle off the ground?
I ran it by my family and a few of my trusted close friends who I knew would be honest with me. Their opinions and feedback are so important to me, and I'm grateful to have a community of people I can rely on. After receiving resounding support, I knew I had to make my move. My next steps were to settle on a catchy name and create a cool logo. For this, I leaned on my brother Oscar Bowdry and my best friend LaNia Roberts! From there, I created our Instagram account, secured a venue and handed out flyers to everyone and anyone who would listen. Additionally, since the beginning, my events have been exclusively listed on Eventbrite, and I made that decision because it's the most trusted platform for events. Eventbrite was especially crucial for promoting my events, reaching a broader audience and managing ticket sales efficiently. The rest is history! I've come such a long way, and I'm so grateful to be on this journey.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while building your side hustle, and how did you navigate them?
Since launching my business in February 2022, I have overcome significant hurdles on my entrepreneurial journey. I emptied my savings to book my first few venues and worked tirelessly handing out flyers, going to businesses to get the word out about my singles events. No one took me seriously, and attendance was very sparse in the beginning. With trial and error, I learned to make adjustments and market using social media. In the early days, I struggled for enough views and likes for the algorithms to pick up my content. Eventbrite also played a significant role here by providing a platform to promote my events and track attendance trends, which helped me refine my strategies. Now with lots of viral posts under my belt, I am constantly thinking about how to increase followership and brand loyalty so that I can launch my events in other cities and create new products for additional income.

Related: 'The Work Just Fills My Soul': She Turned Her Creative Side Hustle Into a 6-Figure 'Dream' Business

Image Credit: Courtesy of We Met IRL

How long did it take you to see consistent monthly revenue? How much did the side hustle earn?
It took me about a year to see consistent monthly revenue. In the beginning, I was making about $800 a month.

What does growth and revenue look like now?
With two years in business, we've grown in several ways. I manage a team of four event producers. We've hosted events in Washington D.C., New Jersey and tons of events in New York City, of course. We host three to four events per month; when we started, I was hosting one event per month. We make $2,000 to $4,000 a month depending on how many events we host and the turnout.

Related: The Side Hustle He Started in His College Apartment Turned Into a $70,000-a-Month Income Stream — Then Earned Nearly $2 Million Last Year

What do you enjoy most about running this business?
I feel like I'm truly changing the way my generation connects with each other. Since 2022, there have been several other event series, very similar to mine, that have started in other cities. I think we're definitely the ones who started the trend of "IRL" dating events, and I'm happy to have paved the way for others!

Image Credit: Courtesy of We Met IRL

What's your advice for others hoping to start successful businesses or side hustles of their own?
My advice is to try. If you have a great idea, go for it. Even if you think you're not perfect or experienced enough to do it, and even if you think you'll fail, all the experiences are worth it. I'd rather have tried and failed than be saying "what if" years later — or worse, seeing someone else living your dream because you never acted on it.

This article is part of our ongoing Young Entrepreneur® series highlighting the stories, challenges and triumphs of being a young business owner.

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

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