M14, one of last year’s Tech North Northern Stars winners, has bought the app and its data although Double’s founders will not be coming along with the deal. The price isn’t being disclosed but M14’s CEO John Kershaw says the move is all about better understanding exactly how dating services perform in the wild.
“Although we’re powering other people’s dating apps, Bristlr (the company’s own dating app that launched the company) is our only real benchmark of what success looks like. Double… gives us double.”
For example, Kershaw was interested to discover that Bristlr and Double have similar churn rates. This information will help M14 build better dating apps in the future.
Double raised £75,000 from Moonpig founder Nick Jenkins on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den TV show late last year and although current user numbers aren’t being shared, it’s certainly got its fair share of press in the past year from the likes of Mail Online and Marie Claire. Last year The Times quoted 8,000 downloads per week in the app’s first two months.
While M14 Industries’ strapline is “we power dating,” its platform is being used by a broader variety of clients than you might expect. Koob is a social network for book-lovers, for example, while Buump will soon launch to help single mothers connect with each other.
Dating is still the company’s core focus, though. Niche dating apps like Grafted Love (for Christians), Dating Ink (for tattoo lovers) and Spex (yes, for people who wear glasses) use M14’s back-end tech. Kershaw says there are 400 clients in the company’s sales pipeline. These include some big corporate clients who plan to launch services in the second quarter of 2017.
As for Bristlr, Kershaw says it’s doing well, with a user base in the low five-figures. This is a level at which niche dating apps tend to settle, he says.
To the future
With an eye on the future, M14 plans to make its platform automated but is currently more focused on making sure clients have a good experience. This means for now, the M14 team works with them directly to spin up new sites. “You need a human element when working with brands,” he says.
Still, the platform they have means the process can be fast. Kershaw says it’s possible for a new dating site to be live in the space of an hour, with a mobile app taking around three hours.
Kershaw says M14 Industries is cashflow positive but is in the process of closing its second small funding round this year. This will fuel further growth before they look for a larger raise next year. Don’t be surprised if M14 makes more acquisitions in the future, too. Kershaw is enamoured with the data they can provide, and as he points out “portfolios win in the dating industry.”
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