Special: Shopping Abroad – Soul2Match in America
More and more people are finding their life partner online and you, as an entrepreneur, can of course respond to that. Linda van Liempt and Jorn Eiting developed a new matchmaking tool in America.
They do not want to know anything about psychological tests, if you want to determine whether two people are compatible, it is better to concentrate on facial similarities. That’s what Linda and Jorn, the founders of Soul2Match, say. “A lot of dating sites match people based on psychological tests, but that hasn’t been proven to work.” According to the dating experts, the element of attraction is ignored so that the meeting in real life is often disappointing. Strange, the duo thinks, because attraction is one of the most important points in choosing a partner.
That’s why they approach it differently: ‘we match people based on certain facial similarities. The method is based on the scientific theory that people who are more similar also have a greater chance of a happy and long-lasting relationship.’
America gets face
Linda and Jorn developed an application that analyzes a person’s face and measures certain key points that reflect character traits. They match their customers based on that. You won’t find them on the Dutch market; they traveled to America to develop and introduce Soul2Match, under which the couple operates.
Why exactly? “During our feasibility study, we quickly found out that the Netherlands would be too small a market for our concept,” explains Linda. ‘As we also want to keep improving our system, we need a lot of data, which is more difficult in the Netherlands. Expanding to other European countries to reach a larger area is also difficult because it requires a lot of adaptation and the marketing has to be done locally,’ she adds. The first year went well for Soul-2Match. “We’ve had some good shows and a lot of media attention.”
However, it is difficult to maintain that attention from abroad, Linda and Jorn note. “As soon as we have a local presence, it goes very well, but then it is difficult to operate from Holland again.” In doing so, they immediately point out the disadvantage of doing business in America. Unlike countries that fall within the EU, you need a visa and a work permit for America. And you don’t just get that. “It is not easy to get a visa at the moment. Therefore, we travel a lot and often work remotely. This sometimes causes problems because you can’t jump in quickly enough. Another problem is the time difference – nine hours between the Netherlands and San Francisco – so you’re not always at your desk at the same time as others, and your work slows down. ‘
Before deciding where to launch Soul2Match, Linda and Jorn tested different markets. America proved to be the most enthusiastic about the new initiative. With attention from the New York Daily News, Yahoo News, Mashable and radio and television, the choice was quickly made. ‘Online dating is popular and much more accepted in America than in other countries. In addition, Americans are optimistic; they are very open to new things and want to help beginners progress.’ IN
Asia is very different, Linda and Jorn discovered. “The word was well spread, but the consumers did not return. They like to try new things, but are not very loyal.’ The mentality in the Netherlands didn’t agree with the duo’s plans either. ‘In America, for example, they have the ‘pay-it-forward’ principle, which ensures that big entrepreneurs are happy to advise you and take the time to introduce you to the right parties. The Netherlands can learn a lot from such a mentality.’ This does not mean that they completely ignore their homeland. ‘At the moment we are definitely looking at opportunities in the Netherlands, but it would then be aimed at a collaboration with a local partner such as Relatieplanet, Pepper or Paiq.’
Because Linda and Jorn like the Western mentality, they do not want to go to countries like Russia or Asia for the time being, they add. ‘If we are to expand, we will try to do so in collaboration with local partners.’ Finally, we are of course very curious about Linda and Jorn’s growth ambitions. Should we think of American figures with lots of zeroes or will the couple still stick to Dutch modesty? ‘This year we will grow by 30,000 members, and we will look at the rollout possibilities in other countries’, say the entrepreneurs confidently.