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Dating That Brings Money
“Human beings are social creatures–not occasionally or by accident but always.”
— Clay Shirky, writer, NYU professor
Dating Is Inevitable, And More Popular Than Ever
Humans are inherently social creatures. This foundational reality leads us to form friend circles, communities, and nations. It prompts us to gather, socialize, and celebrate. It also, of course, compels us to date, pursue relationships, and procreate.
Our predisposition toward social interaction is clearly one of the most fundamental drivers of human behavior. We know this because it’s been studied in detail, across all cultures, for generations. But we also know it because we can feel it for ourselves.
Recent research has gone further to show that it’s not just our behavior that is driven by deep-seeded forces to be social, but that our health and longevity are also positively impacted. People in relationships, especially marriages, live longer. It’s true: compared with those in this American study who were single, divorced, or widowed, married persons have much lower mortality rates. (Bloomberg, 10/9/19)
To be specific, the age-adjusted death rate among married Americans was 780 per 100,000 compared to 1,369 for divorced Americans, 1,444 for those who never married, and 1,657 for the widowed. The reasons can be attributed to marriage selectivity and lifestyles. Healthier people are more likely to marry in general and, once wed, they often take fewer risks, eat better diets, and keep regular medical appointments.
But, people in relationships don’t receive all of the benefits to the detriment of singles. Being single can have surprising advantages. Lifelong single people do better than married people in a variety of ways that don’t get all that much attention.
For example, singles do more to maintain their ties to friends, siblings, parents, neighbors, and coworkers than married people do. They do more than their share of volunteering and helping others, such as aging parents, who need help in myriad ways. Singles tend to realize more autonomy and self-determination, and may also experience more personal growth and development. (Psychology Today, 12/30/6) As a side note, perhaps what’s not surprising about singles is that men are much more likely than women to fall in love at first sight — 48% vs. 28%. (Reader’s Digest, 9/13/20)
With all of the internal biological reinforcement to either get into a relationship, or stay single, it’s no surprise that the phenomenon of dating is universal–and, dating is more popular than ever. This is due in part to there being more unmarried adult singles in the U.S. today than any generation before. There are now 109 million Americans, 18 and older, who are divorced, widowed or have always been single–that’s 45% of the adult population. (Washington Post, 9/20/16)
Whether people love being single with all of its advantages, or people wish to get married for longevity and child raising benefits, a record amount of activity is occuring in the dating industry–and this also means it’s an increasingly attractive investment opportunity.
People Love Online Dating
The online dating sector has been on a growth trajectory for years. Online dating revenue in the U.S. was $912 million in 2019 and is expected to reach $1.1B in 2024. The 2017 to 2024 CAGR of the U.S. online dating market is 5.1%. (Statista, 1/27/21)
Smartphones have made online dating even easier and more popular. Smartphone dating app users in the U.S. reached 26.6 million in 2020. That’s an 18.4% increase from 2019. (eMarketer, 8/21/20) “People still want to find love and connection during these trying times,” said Vincent Yip, eMarketer forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence. “Since people can’t meet in person [during a pandemic], many have adapted to finding someone online.” (eMarketer, 8/21/20)
Younger users are driving growth in social application usage, including dating apps. School closures and social distancing orders increased demand among a younger user base. “For the first three quarters of 2020, the top 25 dating apps in the U.S. saw their lowest average user age in at least three years,” according to SensorTower’s “State of Dating Apps 2021” Report.
While the average age of dating app users had already been steadily declining over the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend. According to SensorTower, “developers are reacting by adding features to apps that appeal to younger users.” This includes live streaming and “experimenting with advertising on networks such as MoPub and Vungle, which are typically popular for mobile games.”
The breadth and depth of positive traits for online dating are compelling. Just a sampling of key attributes include:
|Popular||There are over 30 million users in the U.S. alone. That figure is expected to grow to 35.4 million by 2024. (Statista, 1/27/21)|
|Global||One estimate from 2017 says there are about 8,000 dating sites in the world. [SOURCE]|
|Affordable||Most sites don’t charge anything to get started|
|Easy||You can have a profile with a picture and clever descriptions up within seconds, all from your mobile phone.|
|Safe||Many sites offer video chat now to help confirm identities match profiles, and it’s easy to cross-check member profiles with other social media sites.|
|Convenient||You can update your profile and work towards your next date anywhere, anytime.|
|Beneficial||You get to craft your first impression through pictures, descriptors, and a story.|
|Effective||Dating apps are officially the most popular way to meet a spouse. (The Knot, 10/30/19)|
Along with all of the above, one of the more interesting online dating trends is the proliferation of sites tailored to certain audiences who have more specific preferences for their potential partners. Examples include targeting different:
- Demographic segments, such as Tinder, for users out and about right now, or SilverSingles, designed for users 50+;
- Occupation categories, such as FarmersOnly for ag workers, ranchers, and country folk, or The League, aimed at highly paid professionals;
- Genders, such as Bumble, catering to safety preferences of women, or sexual orientations such as Her, tailored to lesbian, bisexual and queer women;
- Religions, such as Christian Mingle, aimed at Christians, orJDate for the Jewish community.
But, just as many want a narrower audience, the popularity of sites that allow a broad mix of singles to meet and interact are just as, if not more popular. Sites like Match, eHarmony, OKCupid, Promenad, and Plenty of Fish attract a wider audience and then allow them to set their own preferences. This can be more effective than going to a site branded and oriented toward a subset of the population only to find that the group is too small to result in enough matches.
With the proliferation of sites focused on dating, and the increasing ease of accessing these sites from anywhere, anytime, there is a clear impact on the most common answer to the age-old question “how did you two meet?” By 2010, the number one response has been “we met online,” replacing “met through friends,” and “met in a bar or restaurant”–and the gap has widened ever since. As of 2017, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a full 40% of couples met online in a study of nine different modes (PNAS, see chart).
Online Dating Actually Increases During Hard Times
Whereas traditional, fully in-person dating can suffer during times of economic recession given all of the expenses associated with going out to surmise the marketplace, online dating has proven to be recession-proof.
During the 2008-09 financial crisis, for example, several sites were reported to have gained users. In fact, site engagement was shown to be tied to economic changes even more frequent and nuanced than entire economic cycles.
Even somewhat dramatic changes within a week or day could result in changes to site traffic. As Gian Gonzaga, a senior research scientist for dating website eHarmony explains, “on days when the Dow [Jones Industrial Average stock index] went down by 100 points we found an increase in our site usage relative to when the Dow increased by 100 points.”
According to a U.S. News article published during the financial crisis, eHarmony also saw “a 20 percent spike in users between September 2008 and January 2009 compared to the same time period a year prior. (US News, 2009) “People may not always immediately make the connection between an external stressor, such as the state of the economy, and their close relationships, but our survey shows that people who are stressed about the economy may be drawn to long-term relationships even if they are not aware of it,” Gonzaga said. (US News, 2009)
Several theories might help explain why. Perhaps people have more time to devote to their private lives as the number of hours spent at work decline or end temporarily. It may be that uncertain times increase the desire for companionship. There is also the pragmatic reality that living alone is expensive and cohabitating allows couples to split many living costs.
During the early phases of the 2020 coronavirus global pandemic, dating apps began to see a lot more activity. In an April 2020 survey from The Harris Poll, U.S. adults said they were more frequently using social media (50%), virtual meeting sites (33%), and dating apps (11%). (eMarketer, 8/21/20)
Additional polling and reporting confirms the draw of dating services. A Morning Consult poll showed 53% of respondents are using online dating platforms more often while self-quarantining. (Morning Consult, 4/27/20) Dating.com reported that global online dating was up 82% during early March. (CNBC, 5/25/20)
The coronoavirus pandemic’s impacts are only somewhat reflected in the top-earning (non-game) apps of the first half of 2020. The biggest earner, for example, was Match’s online dating app Tinder, an app that, one would think, would have dropped out of the top five due to social distancing requirements. (TechCrunch, 6/30/20)
Match’s most recent “Singles in America” survey, a scientific study of over 5,000 people, found that 58 percent of single app daters shifted toward more intentional dating due to the pandemic. Sixty-three percent said they’re spending more time getting to know potential partners, with almost 70 percent saying they’re being more honest in their interactions. (Mashable, 11/11/20)
“Happily ever after is not a fairy tale—it’s a choice.”
— Fawn Weaver, American investor, and relationship author
Meet Promenad, a Different Approach
We offer Promenad, a new online dating app that differs from other applications in that it offers for free all of the most sought after functions that competing apps sell. For example, new users have the ability to view an unlimited number of profiles, see those who visit their page, and see those who like their profile, all for free. This amount of value for no charge is disruptive to traditional apps. While there is a limit of three likes per day, there is always a quick and easy path to purchase more.
A very notable element of our Promenad design involves a departure from “swiping”, which is increasingly out of favor in the online dating world. (The Verge 11/12/19) Promenad features a horizontal browser smart feed. While it looks similar to swipes, the interface allows users to quickly return to the previous profile and immediately view it entirely, including the ability to flip through photos. The like buttons have been lowered to the bottom so that the user can view the entire profile before sending a hello.
Our co-founder Maksim Shcheglov explains we want the Promenad experience to be “Simple, convenient, useful and interesting.” User feedback on the concept and design is excellent.
As one might expect from a fresh new app, more is on the way. In the future, a section with mini-applications will appear. Our Promenad developers plan to constantly test various new options including minigames. Minigames will ensure users have fun in between finding and communicating with others.
Promenad’s in-app currency called “leaves” works not just for dating features, but for the mini-apps and mini-games to consistently deliver engaging moments. In the future, we will add more geolocation functions, such as an interactive map, with landmarks of popular places, backed up by user-ratings, for strolling, eating & drinking, viewing the sutes, watching movies, biking, and so many other activities.
Our target audience for Promenad includes mature users over 30 who are more selective and financially secure but, the service is really meant for everyone. “This is mainstream dating at its best,” says Shcheglov.
As members’ use of Promenad grows, and Promenad grows with new users, our ability to match people based upon behaviors and preferences improves. Proprietary engineering and collaborative filtering will continue to inform our recommendation engine’s learning ability, a feature we take very seriously. “Our mission is to introduce as many people as possible to each other,” Shcheglov affirms. “The creation of social ties contributes to the development of society. This is a fact.”
To carefully grow our user base, Promenad leverages well curated partner marketing and targets highly active customer acquisition channels for immediate results, providing a predictable flow of energized and interactive new members. We are then able to test new features with new audiences for timely feedback, always keeping the app fresh.
Meanwhile, proprietary algorithms behind the user interface are constantly learning from new data and calibrating against desired engagement levels in key demographic and behavioral segments. So, while we are consistently adding new customers on one hand, this hyper-effective feedback loop also allows us to cultivate customers who invest in higher-end dating site features for “deliberate dating.” Understanding the profile of these users also helps us target longer-term acquisition of users through other channels who are looking for more serious relationships.
Enterprise technology is absolutely mission-critical. We are building and leveraging a modern technology stack because our top operational goal, above all else, is to achieve and maintain flexibility as we develop and scale our product.
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Online Dating Now Represents a Unique Investment Opportunity
Our Promenad business model is not only effective, it is proving to be a very attractive investment option. In short, our multi-channel customer acquisition approach enables use of near and long-term time horizons, each with its own optimization approaches and enhanced feedback loops for consistent growth and profitability.
Put another way, we diversify and mitigate risk through a number of business model elements. Weinvest in customer acquisition channels that are curated to suit the company’s high performance standards. We use innovative app development techniques to constantly introduce new and engaging features and capabilities, and they constantly gather user feedback and anonymized navigation detail to track what’s working and what’s not. These components consistently increase our site traffic and retention while differentiating Promenad’s user experience from competitor products.
How do regular consumers get involved in the upside of this growing market? Your financial advisor may not be too much help here. They tend to steer consumers to more obvious and crowded choices on the open market. This means more transaction fees and little-to-no commitment to above average returns.
Still, buying shares of dating apps through stock exchanges is one way to participate. Match.com’s parent company, for example, has been publicly traded since 1993, and Bumble went public in February of 2021. But by the time a stock hits the public markets, much of any upside has already been realized by founders, venture investors, and employees.
While there can still be meaningful upside in any stock, of course, history tells us the returns can be tame. The total stock market over the past 75 years grew at a CAGR of 7.56%, which isn’t bad, but only 3.95% when excluding dividends, which are not offered by most companies, especially tech startups. (Moneychimp.com, 1945-2020 adjusted for inflation)
The way many have realized significant gains is to invest in a startup in its early stages, but you have to be connected through venture capital firms and would be expected to invest millions of dollars. It should be noted, too, that many of these investments fail as the survival rate for startups is very low.
But, new investment models are emerging. Promenad, for example, is not a startup in the usual risk-taking sense as we use an already proven business model and do not require the intense capital infusion that typical startups require to build infrastructure and overinvest in buying new customers. Also, unlike most startups in other industries, dating companies tend not to fail. They are often bought by larger dating companies, such as Tinder, OKCupid, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, Pairs, and Meetic who are all owned by Match. Or, like Promenad, we can live on independently because we have a sensible cost structure and deliver steady growth.
For Promenad investor-lenders, we issue annual dividends at a rate of 10-14% annually depending on specific terms. We are so confident in our business model that we are able to enter into legally binding contracts with investors. We are also willing to work with investors at way more attainable levels–tens or hundreds of thousands rather than only millions (though we definitely contract at that level, too).
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Meet Our Team
As the founders of Promenad, we have more than 10 years of expertise in the online dating industry. We have spent several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars of our own money into researching and developing our highly-sought-after Promenad dating application.
Promenad’s parent company is called Dating Tech Group, and each of our owners was at one time running their own businesses. Promenad’s business lead, Konstantin, for example, was an entrepreneur in the field of internet marketing, working in the online dating market. Maksim, our product lead, had a small outsourcing company that developed websites for corporate clients. Our financial lead, Evgenii, was a financial consultant, helping people save and multiply their capital for life’s milestones and retirement. Each leader was working separately, but each had a dream of creating something together greater than these individual enterprises.
In 2018, Konstantin understood that he could apply his accumulated marketing experience and achieve tremendous success in the online dating market. Maksim, in turn, was looking for a new career path, because his business was too time-consuming and inherently did not allow him to spend energy implementing any of his ideas. Konstantin told Maksim that online dating is one of the most promising markets on the internet because singles will always be looking for their “match made in heaven.”
Maksim was already keen on the dating market because he was a user of several dating apps himself and understood the massive and universal problem that well designed dating apps solved. But, he also noticed some gaps in how they worked. After a long and careful analysis of the dating app market, we began to design, test, and eventually create a fantastic service, taking into account, and solving for, all of the shortcomings of existing online dating solutions.
With a working version created, we decided to start looking for investors and soon received several “interesting” offers. Konstantin turned to an old colleague and friend, Eugene, for advice on how to structure investments. Eugene, having studied the proposals, concluded that typical venture capital investments essentially equate a type of takeover scheme, where investors simply want to buy the startup business only to “exit” their investment. Typical exits include selling the startup at a premium to a larger company, or positioning the company for an initial public stock offering, or IPO. Not pursuing these traditional routes meant that we would need to find another way to finance the investment needed to scale.
We prefer to maintain control of our company and culture by avoiding investment from venture capitalists who require an ownership stake and constantly keep an eye on how to sell their portfolio companies in order to get their money back. Instead, we at Promenad finance operations through preferred lender relationships with highly favorable rates, enabling individuals to earn a stable, passive income.
To learn more about this exciting investment opportunity, please contact us.