As it’s our birthday week we asked Matt Harman, the very first Globalite on the payroll, to do a little blog for us about the company’s 8 years 🙂
A long time ago in an office block far, far away….
8 years ago today, a web designer turned to the recruitment consultant he shared office space with and asked “How would you feel about dating?” After an uncomfortable conversation in which Steve explained that he wasn’t really into men in that way, and Ross explained that he was just looking to make some money (which didn’t help resolve the misunderstanding), Global Personals was born and a few short months later I walked through the door as its first employee.
Since then, I’ve witnessed more change than most people experience in an entire career, and despite (or maybe because of) the never-ending, Everest-like learning curve, I’m still here and loving every minute of it.
Onwards & upwards
For starters, we’ve gone from celebrating our first rebill (that’s like free money, right?), to our first £1000 day, to our first £10,000 day, to our first £1m month… to our first £2m month. Who knows what type of figures we will be hitting in the future?!
We’ve also grown from a single part-time employee (a lonely state of affairs at the Christmas party) to having over 200 new team members pass through the doors, which in turn has required no less than 8 office moves.
The Technical team has evolved from little more than a phone with an agency on the end of it to a veritable United Nations of Rails, ColdFusion, Java, database, tech-ops and UX experts. Drawn together from as far away as Australia, the Far East, Europe, South Africa and even Bracknell(!), they’re all stationed right next to our Customer Care team who only have a ten yard stroll should the odd bug crop up.
Customer Care has also grown, now accounting for more than 30 staff providing technical support, content moderation and assistance to our members 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Customer Relationship Management has evolved too. From sending the most basic of transactional notifications 8 years ago, we now deliver in excess of 5 million e-mails every day to our members, and can target those messages by virtually any parameter that we hold about a user from the basics such as age, gender and location, right down to their appearance and what hobbies they have.
Looking after our Partners has also come on in leaps and bounds and is unrecognisable from the largely self-service setup that existed when the WhiteLabelDating.com platform was created. There is now a team of 15 guiding existing and prospective partners through every aspect of running their online dating business and advising on all the additional services that are available to gain that all-important edge over the competition.
Some things never change
But for all that change, part of the key to our success (and part of why I’m still here after 8 years) is that some things have stayed the same. The small business, entrepreneurial spirit has always remained, and with it, the sense that we’re all doing something that matters and that will progress the business and strengthen its understanding of the customer and the industry. Whether that’s doing something brilliant, or realising why what we did wasn’t brilliant. In the early days everything we did was new to us, which made for a pretty challenging working day, but also meant that we were never constrained by defaulting to “best practice” or just doing “whatever we did last time”. We had no experience of the industry from a business point of view so every move was thought out from first principles and, critically, from the customer’s point of view – that was the only perspective we had.
Happily, this user-focused approach is something that has continued to this day, and whilst the founders have gained first-hand experience of all corners of the industry, as well as bringing in a wealth of experience from elsewhere in online dating and beyond, Global Personals has always had a healthy respect for those at the coal face. Who better to get customer insight than Customer Care Execs who speak to around 500 members a day? Or Partner Managers who have daily contact with many of the thousands of entrepreneurs and big brands who use the WhiteLabelDating.com system to run their businesses?
I’ve rarely dared to try and predict what Global might look like in 1 year’s time, so I’ll not offer any prophecies about the next 8 years. What I will say though, is that if it’s anything like that last 8 then I want to be a part of it. I can’t quite imagine not being part of it. And (this is where all that brainwashing starts to pay off for Ross & Steve), I couldn’t quite understand anyone else who wouldn’t want to be a part of it too!