Perhaps the biggest drawback to online dating is it can be extremely time consuming, especially for those working 80+ hours a week on Wall Street.The challenges online daters encounter include creating an interesting enough profile to attract attention, sifting through tons of other profiles in hopes of finding a potential match, sending out the right messages and maintaining contact just to go on that first date.
That’s why Alexandre Errera and Maxime Leufroy-Murat — both former Morgan Stanley employees in London (a distressed debt analyst and an equity trader, respectively) — decided to launch a dating website last November called Personal Dating Agent (PDA).
The idea came to them last summer when the pair of now-entrepreneurs were looking to exit the finance world. Ironically, it was their experience working at an investment bank that helped give them the idea in the first place.
“We started searching for an escape and we explored a few ideas and came across, from personal experience and people around us, that dating was a big problem usually because we didn’t have the time. It was difficult to meet girls. So we started to think about a potential solution,” Leufroy-Murat told Business Insider in a telephone interview.
The pair got together and decided to start a business to solve a problem they identified in the banking world — a lack of time for dating, even online.
“It takes so much time — hours sending messages. It was a waste of my time and not worth it. If someone could do that for me it would be amazing,” Leufroy-Murat said.
And that’s exactly how Personal Dating Agent works. An agent creates your profile, scopes out potential matches, sends tailored messages and organise the dates so all you have to do is date.
Those are just a few of the available services the site offers. You can also sign up membership packages that offer services such as pre-date coaching, style advice, professional photo shoot, date booking, etc.
It’s been six months since the former Morgan Stanley employees launched PDA and life these days is a lot different.
“I used to be a trader and I’d start at 6 and I had to wake up at 5,” Leufroy-Murat told Business Insider. “Now I’m up at 8/8:30.”
He added that he’s really happy running his own business.
“It’s a big deal — it impacts your life. I used to be tired all of the time. I used to have to go out and it just made me really tired. It’s a healthier life and a happier life,” he said.
The money from the business is not bad either. In fact, it’s good, he said.
“We are on our way to replacing our old income. That’s good.”
As for the clients, he said the site started out 90% male and 10% female. He said that recently became about 50/50.
He said the company, which currently employs three full-time dating agents as well as freelance writers, would like to expand into Germany and France soon. But he doesn’t expect it to be as massive as other online dating sites.
“This business is never going to be a Match.com. If we get to 500 clients or a few thousand clients that’s as far as we’ll go.”
When you sign up for Personal Dating Agent, you'll receive a login to your 'member space' on the site.
You will then be asked to answer questions and fill out details about yourself. It's really easy and straight forward. (Think background info, education, where you grew up, etc.)
You'll also have to identify what you find attractive in a person and the type of person you would be attracted to. Make sure you're honest about this one as your agent will use the information you provide when searching for your matches.
The site will also ask you to submit a few photographs of yourself to use on your dating profiles.
Shortly after completing the information in your member space, your personal dating agent will give you a phone call. (Tip: Take this call in private)
Your personal dating agent (mine was a woman named Natasha) will call you to go over your answers in your member space. Your agent will basically have a conversation with you to learn more about you before crafting your dating profiles.
For me, the phone call lasted about 45 minutes. This conversation can be a tad bit embarrassing (i.e. I had to disclose my longest relationship and the most personal thing I'm willing to share). So make sure you take the phone call in private and not in front of your co-workers like I did.
Based on the information you provided both in your member space and the phone call, your agent will then draft the text to your online dating profiles. Here's an excerpt from mine. I recommended minor edits.
Once you suggest changes and approve the profiles, they will be set live on the various dating sites. Basically, your agent manages your profiles for you. Here's my OK Cupid profile. I also had one on Plenty Of Fish.
Your agent will then send you a 'match pack' of 15 potential matches. I'll admit I was really, really impressed by the group Natasha selected for me.
Now it's time for your agent to do the hard work -- writing the messages for you. Don't worry. You get to approve them before they get sent.
I'll admit that there were some things I would never dream of saying to someone (see below). Still, I wanted to keep the process as organic as possible so I let Natasha do all the message writing. And for the record, 'sneaky devil' did respond.
Alas, not all my 'matches' responded to the well-crafted messages my dating agent sent for me wanting a date. Some, though, were rather funny.
I did get asked out on a couple dates. My dating agent prepared a 'date pack' for me which goes over the match's profile and the conversations we had.
I was impressed that my date was in the military. That was definitely something interesting to talk about.
I had a lot of fun, however, there just wasn't enough chemistry or common interests between us to justify a second date.
From the new group, I exchanged text messages with a couple of the matches and ended up going on date on Stone Street (one of my favourite spots in Manhattan).
My date was an Ivy Leaguer who works at a major Wall Street investment bank.
The date went really well and I was asked out on a second date, which I didn't end up taking.
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