Following on from my part 1 blog post on how it all began, here’s part 2 …
Between 2003 and 2007 we slowly grew the business, launching our ﬁrst own-brand site Singles365.com, primarily to acquire members while we went out attracting partners to the platform such as Yours Dating.
We continued to juggle credit cards, reinvesting funds as soon as they became available – but it was tricky and certainly killed our personal credit rating for a few years afterwards!
By September 2007 we’d built the business to the point where it was on a solid footing, with reliable recurring revenues and the opportunity to invest more in future marketing. We had around 8 full time staff to look after customer care and moderation, working mostly from my old apartment (by this time I’d moved away from my parents to live above Rawnet’s ofﬁces – my bedroom then became the moderation hub of Global Personals!).
After four years of juggling two companies (I was running Rawnet full time while Steve was also running a successful recruitment business) we realised that to make the most of the opportunity we needed to focus purely on Global Personals and invest seriously to grow the business.
I came to an arrangement with my business partner at Rawnet to take over that business so I could focus fully on Global Personals, while Steve closed down his recruitment company so he could do the same. Then we started recruiting talent to grow the White Label Dating operation.
We were very lucky to ﬁnd two young, talented and ambitious people to join the partner team (Gary and Laura) working under Steve and the business really started motoring. We reinvested our proﬁts, exhibiting at events such as Internet World and ad:tech to attract new partners to the WhiteLabelDating.com platform. It was a long, hard slog but we started to
generate momentum and gradually things fell in place.
In January 2008 we recruited our CTO Barry Frost, to bring development fully in-house.
We continued to expand the team, bringing on more partner managers, customer care and moderation team members to handle the growth. We invested in a full time Financial Director, recruiting Darren Damiano from Match.com, who brought with him a wealth of knowledge on dating site metrics and processes.
By January 2010 we had outgrown our 3 ﬂoors of ofﬁce space at 1 High Street Windsor and had to move just down the road to our current home at Minton Place Windsor, a fantastic 14,000 square foot of open-plan ofﬁce space. We continued to grow, investing heavily in the moderation team and tools to wipe out scammers who tried using our sites.
We’ve made mistakes – some HUGE mistakes – and I’d be happy to share those another time. But together we got through it – and I’m so proud of the baby we’ve created together.
It’s funny looking back and realising how far we’ve all come – and moreover, the amount of things that had to happen for us to come together in the ﬁrst place. If I hadn’t wimped out of ﬂying with the RAF, if I hadn’t met my Rawnet business partner doing musical theatre(!), if Steve’s predilection for ﬁne food hadn’t resulted in so many lunches together to talk through the idea – hell, if we’d both chosen other ofﬁces for our ﬁrst company – the business wouldn’t have even started. And most importantly, without the fantastic team we have around us and the great partners who have come on board and trusted us to deliver on our promises – we certainly wouldn’t be where we are today.
And now I’m working out here for a week in the sunshine – we’ve just ﬁnished our ﬁnancial year so I’m taking some time out of the ofﬁce to plan for the future and relax for a few days. I’m really excited reviewing some of the development projects we’ve got in the pipeline – the next 12 months are going to be incredible for us and more importantly, for our partners. We’re only just getting started.
But for now, while I sit here basking in the Phoenician sunshine, there’s another important question to ask. Something which, perhaps, many of you will consider in your lives and may indeed have the answer for me.
It is simply this… is 11am too early for a Mojito?
Ross Williams, CEO & Co-Founder.