Venture Corner: supperclub
Isn’t it time first dates were more fun?
Supperclub is a group dating service that matches single graduate students and alumni on fun, casual group dinners designed to spark connections. In a world where many students and young professionals are frustrated with current dating opportunities, supperclub provides an opportunity to meet new like-minded people outside of one’s usual social circle. In addition to fostering connections among members, we also are focusing on developing supperclub into an online-to-offline (O2O) commerce business through partnerships with local restaurants.
Are there competing products out there? How are you different?
Clearly, the dating market is significant and growing as evidenced by the plethora of start-ups in the space. However, supperclub is different. We organize 3:3 group dinners versus the traditional 1:1 date. When Tom and Giselle are matched through our service, they are each instructed to bring two single friends of the same-sex to the date. Now Tom and Giselle, rather than having one potential match, have three – and so do their friends. The rationale behind members selecting friends to bring on the date is based on homophily, or the tendency for individuals to associate and bond with people similar to themselves. We believe that if Tom and Giselle “matched,” so will their friends. Also group dates are a less intimidating and more “efficient” way of finding a match. Lastly, we make the dates easy for members by coordinating all of the logistics – the member and his/her friends just need to sign up and show up.
How did you get the idea?
Group dating services have proven highly successful outside the United States (specifically in India and Japan) where the dating culture revolves around dating in groups. Given the willingness of Americans to participate in group activities (meetup.com, grubwithus.com) combined with their desire for efficiency, group dates could be a significant new paradigm in the dating world.
What were your backgrounds prior to HBS?
Prior to business school Alex worked in finance and Kusum worked as a brand manager at Proctor & Gamble. Matt is a joint MD/MBA student. Alex, Kusum and Matt are hoping their complementary backgrounds will be sufficient to overcome Noam Wasserman’s advice not to start a company with your HBS classmates.
What significant milestones have you hit?
We received positive feedback from our ten-dinner pilot program in November, including a recent email from a member telling us she is now dating someone she met at one of our dinners. We launched our website on January 29th and currently are in the process of organizing 50 dinners among Harvard grad students (representing all 15 schools) in February.
What is your next step in the venture process?
We are currently ramping up our customer acquisition. While we have organized many successful dates so far, we believe that expanding our customer base will enhance the experience for our daters. And, of course, we’re continually gathering feedback as to how to enhance the supperclub experience, from our website to the dates themselves.
What has been the best part of starting your own venture?
We have learned an enormous amount in a short period of time from starting this venture. And no matter the outcome, we know these learnings (web development, sales, customer focus) will be invaluable in the long-term. Furthermore, it is just fun and rewarding to work on your own idea with a good friend.
When you have a question about entrepreneurship, where do you turn?
Supperclub is fortunate to have great advisors (Misiek Piskorski, Mike Roberts) on the HBS faculty who have and continue to provide insight on the venture. However, it is really our HBS classmates and friends who have been invaluable, whether it be teaching us how to host our website or actually testing and providing feedback on our service.
How do you balance life at HBS with starting your own venture?
We don’t, really. When an urgent email comes in, we answer it. Fortunately, we’re in the process of streamlining both our acquisition and logistics phases of supperclub, which should free up time to focus more on our true focus – the best possible customer experience.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Fortunately, supperclub has had a ton of great girls sign up for the service, but sadly, not enough men. Guys – for once the odds are in your favor at HBS J. This is a great opportunity to meet 3 eligible girls in a noncommital setting, learn more and sign up at: http://supper-club.us/