Launching in the Alley this week…Date Night Is
It happens to the best of couples. Some point after the first dates and first kisses; some time after you’ve moved in together or have gotten married or somewhere around the time “you” became a “we,” date night disappears and weekends become trading in the excitement of dating for Top Chef marathons you’ve already seen twice. If you are one of those people who think date night is only for young love or new love, then you and your significant other need to get up and go out. And if your dating skills are a little rusty, then Joni Goldbach and Danny Nathan, a couple and co-founders of Date Night Is… can help.
Date Night Is…, the website that encourages couples to keep date night alive in their relationships, will go live this week with the latest iteration of the site. Sign up for free and get back on track with emails sent by the company every 2-4 weeks, which serve as a reminder that it might be time to plan another night out. Included in the email will be a few ideas for how to make that date stand out, or just to give couples a starting point in terms of thinking about what to do.
And this help extends beyond the reminder emails. People can write on the site’s Facebook page, tweet them or reach out to the founders through an email and describe the type of dates they hope to plan. Nathan and Goldbach will then get to work finding ideas based on the description provided, their own personal experience and the experiences of other couples they know.
“And if that package is ever dinner and a movie, as far as I’m concerned, we’re game over,” said Nathan.
As part of a promotion, Date Night Is… will also be offering 3 date night giveaways over the next 3 months. Everyone who signs up for the site will receive an entry into the contest; couples will get 2 entries; and users can earn extra entries by sharing the site with their networks and friends. Each month, a randomly selected person will win a night out on the town, courtesy of Date Night. Winners will receive a $250 voucher and Nathan and Goldbach will help the couple brainstorm the perfect date, based on the winners’ interests.
Founded in January of 2013, Goldbach and Nathan, who have been dating for almost 3 years now, originally came up with the idea for the site early in their relationship, while out at an Ikea in Brooklyn, in the midst of downpour on a Friday night.
“I cracked a joke about it being a wonderful date night and got quite the look for it, and it started us down a line of conversation just around what date night is and how often did we manage to get out, and it started us thinking about what date night meant to us and to other couples,” said Nathan.
After hearing similar feedback from friends, Nathan and Goldbach realized they weren’t alone in their feelings. As they approached other couples with the idea for Date Night, there was resounding agreement about the value it would provide in the dating world, which finally led the couple/co-founders to turn the idea into an actual company.
Goldbach, originally an art history major and now customer marketing manager at American Express OPEN, has felt an entrepreneurial spirit brewing inside her since her days of babysitting and taking odd jobs to pay for dance classes.
“With Date Night, I was reflecting back to all of the folks I babysat for, the ones who went out on regular date nights and how much that seemed to have an effect on the closeness of their relationships. That was kind of my inspiration for working on this as well,” said Goldbach.
Nathan, on the other hand, didn’t catch the entrepreneurial bug until later on in his career. He originally went to college for acting and business before shifting to advertising.
Most recently, Nathan ended a 5-year stint at POKE NY, a highly regarded innovation company, where he was director of creative strategy and got to experiment in the ways in which technology can aid innovation and spur collaboration.
Both founders certainly appreciate the role that technology can also play in relationships, considering that they met through an online dating site.
“[For Date Night] our thought process focused on how we can build on that opportunity, not only in terms of technology being used to introduce two people, but also how it can continue as people become more comfortable with that technology presence in their relationship,” said Nathan.
Right now, the website’s focus is solely in New York, where the co-founders live, but that works perfectly for Goldbach and Nathan, who love the tech scene here and consider it a wonderful resource, filled with opportunities and meetups.
Although, Nathan does see one void.
“There’s a ton of discussion out there for people who either have some traction or are looking for funding, but we’ve had to work pretty hard to start learning and educating ourselves about what to do even before we’ve gotten to that point – what we have to do to get from zero to ten thousand users, let alone from ten thousand to a hundred thousand,” said Nathan.
Having a very small team while starting a business from scratch has been a challenge for the bootstrapped company. With no outside funding, Goldbach and Nathan have been very mindful of learning how to allocate their resources and prioritize their ideas.
Currently, the founders’ support team consists of the developer who has been working with them to construct the latest iteration of the site as well as Chuck Masucci, Nathan’s co-founder from I Wanna Nom, who has been an occasional technology and development advisor to help vet ideas.
“Figuring out how to approach this thing in a manner that lets us sort of be experimental and learn as we go has been challenging, but also really exciting,” said Nathan.
Their ability to prioritize each feature was due in large part to feedback they’d received from the survey posted on the sign-up page on the previous version of the website.
“Just taking a step back and focusing on the potential customer first, talking with people and getting their feedback and learning what would be useful for them rather than just going and putting out a product that we would use has been really helpful,” said Goldbach.
While the email reminders, date night giveaway and help planning dates are the website’s current focus, Nathan and Goldbach plan to offer other features down the road. Ideas earmarked for the future include arranging double dates for likeminded couples, creating partnerships with other businesses to sell or promote through the site and incorporating more technology into the research process, such as social APIs, that would increase efficiency in terms of finding the best options for all of their users. All before for one day going national.
While the early stages of any startup can be unnerving, it helps to have a partner by your side in both business and in your relationship whom you know you can count on. “From our first date,” said Goldbach, “I knew I’d want to date this guy or work with this guy and now I get to do both.”