While current dating sites are superficially matching you with hundreds of impersonalized results, Once is changing the dating scene by giving you the attention you deserve. Instead of having to spend hours swiping right or left, Once analyzes your profile and professionally picks one match per day sent straight to your inbox. Don’t deal with the potential embarrassment of everyone seeing you on a dating site. What are you waiting for? Log on to Once now and finally find “the one”.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised funds from a couple of big European business angels and one VC fund: Partech Ventures. Technically it was a seed round since we haven’t issued any preferred shares.
Tell us about your product or service.
Once a day, we send you just ONE PROFESSIONALLY HANDPICKED match. It takes our matchmakers 24 hours to find you the perfect one. Yes, we are another dating app, but rather than focusing on volume and how many profiles you can swipe per hour, we put all of our efforts in one person.
What inspired you to start the company?
Back in 2011, I had the chance to go to the office of I-UM, the #1 South Korean dating app that invented this concept. I loved the idea, and wanted to bring it to the US and Europe.
How is it different?
It basically solves all of the industry’s problems:
With traditional dating sites, it’s common for a guy to send out hundreds of messages, or swipe for hours, before getting a response or a match. For women, it can be overwhelming receiving numerous messages. It’s a frustrating dynamic that doesn’t work well for anyone. Once solves this problem by matching users with one great person per day; the users have each other’s full and dedicated attention for 24 hours.
Lack of Time:
I strongly believe that technology should help people be more efficient and therefore gain time, not waste it. One shouldn’t have to swipe for hours to get one date. With Once, it only takes two minutes out of your day to get connected with someone who is a perfect fit for you.
Some people tend to be shy and prefer to not be seen on a dating app. On other dating apps (like Tinder), it becomes extremely easy to spot neighbors, friends and colleagues. When using Once, the only person that knows you’re being matched is the person you’re being matched with.
Unlike many other dating apps, we don’t rely on impersonal algorithms. All Once matches are handpicked by a team of professional matchmakers to find you someone with complementary interests that you’ll genuinely like. We base our matches on physical attraction and social background. Our focus is quality, not quantity.
We are currently focusing on the US, France and the UK. Trying to target the 18-50 years old that are single and “looking,” which represents roughly 150 million people.
What’s your business model?
It’s a Freemium model. You can get your daily match and communicate for free. We just sell a couple of premium options that will help you improve your chances of success.
Any success stories resulting in marriage from your data?
We just launched and I don’t know many couples that would get married in less than a couple of months. However, we got plenty of marriages and babies with my previous ventures DateMySchool and I have no doubt that the first Once marriage will happen quite soon.
What was the funding process like?
Very easy. We haven’t met one investor who turned us down. It happened in less than a month. The team is so strong and the concept is great that everybody wanted to buy a ticket. We went with Partech Ventures because of their past successes and their amazing brand.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We are very lucky to have a very experienced and well-connected team. We pitched one day and sent over our shareholder agreement and our banking information the next. I was quite amazed at how easy and fast it was.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Thanks to Tinder, it seems that the dating app industry is really hot right now. I believe it was the team that made a real difference. We have the best product people and engineers in the industry and every investor we talked to recognized their value.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We are about to release an amazing web version of our product and keep improving our mobile apps and our BI to help our matchmakers make perfect matches. As a matter of fact, we put out one new version every 2 weeks with new features, bug fixes and a better UX.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
If you’re about to release a great product, keep working on it and don’t change anything. If you get some adoption, you’ll have no problem raising money as long as you’re not in the porn industry.
If you’re not 100% sure you’ll knock the world down with your product release, then pause your product development and spend more time on LinkedIn. A great team and network will help you raise millions. An ok-ish product won’t.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We have no other goals than having a hockey stick growth for the next year. We believe our product is superior and we can’t wait to share it with the world. Now we need to properly penetrate the UK and French market by December and then take over Europe.
Where is your favorite place to enjoy the summer weather in the area?
We are all over the place, but, we like to spend some quality time in Philadelphia. We love the city, which is super underrated if you ask me, and helps us escape the buzz of city.