February 10, 2011
An estimated 20 million people visit online dating sites at least once a month and some visit more than one site. Most people are familiar with Match.com, Yahoo Personals, EHarmony.com and other dating sites that claim love is one click away. A growing market of individuals looking to market their single-dom set the stage for a business opportunity with a more personalized approach.
Laurie Davis, owner of eFlirt Expert, grew her company within 48 hours, with only $50 and a Twitter account. With hard-work, dedication and almost no sleep, she created an online dating company to help singles manage their virtual impressions one click at a time. Davis shares an inside look on how she started eFlirt Expert and why you don’t need venture capital or an MBA to be successful.
Company: eFlirt Expert
Founder, Age: Laurie Davis, 29
Location: New York City & Boston
Startup Year: 2009
Startup Costs: $50
How I Got Started: Since I was a tween, I’ve been intrigued by online communications. Then, 10 years ago, I wrote my first online dating profile. No advice for digital dating existed, so I learned the do’s and don’ts through experience. After convincing my friends to try dating over the web, I quickly became their virtual lifejacket in the sea of online dating.
Meanwhile, I was the consummate professional from nine to five. At the age of 18, I was the director of operations at a small business, and by 20, left college to pursue a career in marketing. While my peers were attending frat parties, I was running creative strategy sessions for my Fortune 500 clients. By 23, I was in-demand in the industry and earning over six figures as a consultant.
But a few years later, I lost several clients as a result of the Madoff scandal. Knowing the market for my area of expertise would be strained in the coming years, I brainstormed temporary career moves, but nothing seemed to fit just right. Then, one day a friend called to share the news that he was moving in with his girlfriend, and I had helped him meet her online! Inspired by this great news and other relationships that I realized I facilitated, I started eFlirt Expert just 48 hours later with only $50 and a Twitter account.
Best Success Story/Customer Interaction: Every day, we help people have great dates and meet fantastic matches. We’re responsible for so many rewarding relationships, including two engagements to date! Whether we’re simply writing a singles’ profile or entirely managing their online dating life, it’s a reminder that literally every character counts. Knowing that your work is seriously changing people’s lives (and marital statuses!) is more rewarding than you can imagine.
Biggest Startup Challenge: Two months after I started the business, I got a call from The Washington Post. While that sounds exciting (and it was!), it was also nerve wracking; my first media interview ever was with one of the largest newspapers in the US! My nerves weren’t on edge just because of the interview itself, either.
I knew that the company was going to get a lot of eyeballs when the article ran, which meant that people would be drawing their own conclusions about the company. I upgraded the website, tweaked the branding and ran countless tests on the site. I also had to adjust to growth quickly, which I did by putting standard business practices in place and training interns to become Certified eFlirters on specific topics to pick up the slack. Bottom line: Aggressive growth almost overnight! I consider that a business blessing, but I didn’t sleep for weeks.
#1 Tips for Newbies: You don’t need Venture Capital or an MBA to be successful. I don’t have a degree and I started my business with $50. Success, to me, is defined by taking limited resources and creating something extraordinary. You can do that as long as you possess unique talent, drive and passion. So start creating! And if you need support along the way, check out the She’s The CEO YouTube Channel. I’m one of five young women entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire you!
Did you enjoy this article? If so, subscribe to YFS Magazine and never miss an update.