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Jasper Jan and Thomas de Konink set up the first paid dating site in the Netherlands in 1998: e-Matching.nl. When a little later ‘amorous’ Lexa and Relatieplanet join, the brothers cleverly put a sticker on their dating site: only for the highly educated. “By choosing one target group, we could use our limited budget purposefully. It worked. If we had not done so, we would have been annihilated. “

Suzanne de Winter (AD)

July 12, 2021

Thomas de Konink l and his brother Jasper Jan run a dating site for highly educated e Matching

Thomas (left) and Jasper Jan de Konink, the founders of e-Matching. Photo: Raphael Drent

Not everything was better before. Certainly not our behavior on the Internet. Jasper Jan (59) and Thomas (50) de Konink, brothers from Eindhoven, decided in 1996 that they also wanted to do something with the ‘electronic highway’ that was just there. Soon they were knee-deep in the dirt we have names of today like cyberbullying and cock pictures. All sorts of junk hid dozens of chatboxes and discussion groups that the brothers ran on the Internet. That lesson quickly became clear. “Make it free and you create echo chambers full of misery,” says Jasper Jan de Konink to Gelderlænderen.

There must be another way, they thought. And in 1998, Jasper Jan – the marketing man and weapon of ideas – and Thomas – the technician – started more or less their own counter-movement. They set up e-Matching.nl, the first paid dating site in the Netherlands, long ran from a pipe drawer in Nijmegen and recently housed in Wageningen.

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The first five hundred online daters could start for free

“The knife cut both ways,” says Jasper Jan: “With e-Matching, we were able to monetize the service we offered online daters, and the people who were not serious were simply gone.” Thomas: ,, 2.90 guilders a month, we asked. The first 500 men and women were free. We marketed e-Matching on Focus-In, our site with chat boxes and discussion forums. “

It ran smoothly until 2001. Then dating giants like Relatieplanet and Lexa emerged, with budgets of millions. Jasper Jan: ,, What’s going on here, we thought. How can we ever compete with that? I had just read a book, no idea what it was called, with tips on how to develop your brand. There were simple things in there, such as: find a niche and make sure you become the biggest. ”

Because of the appearance, the highly educated came

Okay, so this is a niche. They quickly agreed and inserted the now famous slogan ‘Dating for the highly educated. Do you dare?’ at their online store. “A logical choice,” says Thomas. ,, We always had a higher percentage of highly educated than the rest. We were known for that. Like Lexa for truck drivers. That highly educated already felt so at home with us was because of our appearance. It’s always been a bit of a business. Blue color, no frills, no hearts. ” Jasper Jan: ,, And by choosing one target group, we could use our limited budget purposefully. It worked. Had we not done so, we would have been wiped out by then. “

“We check all profiles to see if they are genuine and serious. If you are dyslexic or if Dutch is not your native language, we will help you correct your profile if necessary”

Thomas de Konink from e-Matching

They have heard all the scornful remarks one can make about ‘dating for the higher educated’, say the brothers who once agreed: both have a veto, shareholders are not allowed in, and a handful of employees are enough. Thomas: “Had we chosen dating for the less educated, no one would have said anything. It’s just an audience. We do not like it. “Jasper Jan:” Discrimination, some say. But there are also plenty of dating sites for Hindus, Jews and black people. And Funky Fish for Christians. Your choice of partner is actually a separate thing you can discriminate in it. ”

Do not make mistakes in your profile

27,000 members are looking for a partner on e-Matching.nl. According to Thomas, the fact that these are all highly educated makes it easier to make demands on their dating profiles: flawless Dutch, rich in content and with a nice photo. “We check all profiles to see if they are genuine and serious. If you are dyslexic or if Dutch is not your native language, we will help you correct your profile if necessary. But please add ‘dyslexic’ to your description, otherwise you end up in the trash if you send an email to someone.The slightest mistake triggers all alarm bells.People think alike: Google Translate that is, a fake profile. “

All the profiles read like a sociology course. Thomas: ,, You see wave motions. Suddenly, everyone mentions a particular book. The kite pilot saw you suddenly years ago in many profiles. And watching a DVD on the couch has become Netflix. We encourage everyone to be adventurous, but with such a large group, it makes sense that some people come with the same preferences. ” Everyone is looking for humor and loves city trips. ,, If you date longer, you will get to know the clichés. Everyone is going through a dating evolution. “

Home trainer Irma writes columns filled with advice and comfort

e-Matching gets its ‘home coach Irma’ to write columns on the page full of advice, encouragement and comfort. Because according to the brothers, no one is happy about 22 success stories with each other, as you see on some dating sites. “Dating can be confrontational,” says Jasper Jan, who met his partner for e-Matching. “You have to be honest about that. No one is on our side for fun and wants to leave it as soon as possible.”

“Tinder has not hit e-Matching hard, because we have our own target group. But the generic dating sites have been hit hard”

Jasper Jan de Konink from e-Matching

If you are in danger of losing hope, you can request a ‘second opinion’. Five thousand people have already got it done. Jasper Jan: ,, We then analyze your profile and search behavior. Is your text long? Then it can radiate: I am very full of myself. Or do you only have the studio pictures provided? Then add one of yours on a cozy terrace, we say in such a case. This kind of advice can help someone get over the dead center. “But they can still do their best for you, the brothers agree, of course they are not there when someone is rude to the servant and talks about himself whole in the evening.

Tinder, Bumble and Happn, the gamification of dating

A hype, they thought of the rise of the dating app Tinder, in 2013. Jasper Jan laughs: ,, But a very big hype. Tinder was like Grindr, the popular gay app focused on quick encounters and sex. But when Grindr came out, I had never imagined that budding millennials would also decide to tackle hetero-dating the really fast Grindr way. Tinder revolutionized dating. One can almost talk about gamification of dating through apps like Tinder, Bumble and Happn. “Thomas:” E-Matching suddenly became part of the old economy. That’s how it felt. “

Tinder has not hit e-Matching hard. “Because we have our own target group. But the generic dating sites are hard hit, “says Jasper Jan. Corona was just as exciting. The first press conference meant one nose dive: 25 percent fewer sign-ups, but it only lasted weeks.

Still older dating due to late divorce wave, the oldest member is 94

Due to a late wave of divorces, more and more over sixty and seventy sign up. The oldest member is a lady of 94. Jasper Jan: ,, The elderly want a page that they can just call. We can do it.”

Who even remembers the taboo on online dating? Thomas: “The bailiff can only talk about it these days.” Jasper Jan: ,, Sometimes we get the question if we still have the old profiles in our database. They want to use it for a piece for the party. ”

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