Clikd: Michael Blakeley
At odds with the current "superficial swipe culture", this photography-based dating app helps match users via shared interests and custom quizzes
Tell us what your business does:
Clikd is an app that offers people a creative way to meet new people. Whether our users are looking for a date or a mate, we offer them a unique way to match with the right sort of person for them.
We put people in control of their matching process and give them a creative way to express themselves and get better quality matches in a quick and fun way.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
It was pretty methodical actually. I was sick and tired of working in legal and compliance (I was a lawyer and data protection officer) and wanted to start my own business, to do something more fun and creative.
More than that, I wanted to build a business I could be proud of. I started by investigating several markets and developing several products and ideas.
After discussions with friends, colleagues and mentors, the idea of Clikd stood out as the best and most innovative idea. So, I ran with it and haven't stopped going since!
How did you know there was a market for it?
The dating app market is huge and growing. It has over 100m users and is valued at $3bn globally. It’s estimated to grow 36.4% by 2019 in the UK alone.
The global photo sharing market is at least six times the size of dating, with over 500m users on Instagram and Pinterest alone. The friendship market is also growing, but is hugely under serviced at present.
Clikd has been designed to offer something new to the dating market as well as bridge both dating and photo sharing. Our novel approach should enable us to tap into two fast growing and lucrative markets in a bid to really shake things up.
What were you doing before starting up?
I am a qualified data protection and compliance lawyer, and have worked in law and compliance for over 12 years. I'm also a member of the Founders Network and have just graduated from the Start Up Leadership Programme.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, always. I started a small business in my early twenties but was too late to market and missed out. After that I knuckled down to corporate life, learning, growing and developing myself along the way. Until, eventually, the itch became too great to bear and I launched myself back into the start-up world.
How did you raise the money?
I have raised money to date from myself, friends, family and my co-founder.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We are a freemium app, with a subscription model. We expect 20% of our users to pay an average monthly fee of £4.99. Our unique approach will also provide us with some additional revenue generating opportunities once we grow beyond a certain size.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Plenty! Learning how to start-up a business, get investment, resolve supplier issues, manage design and development complications, learning and understanding marketing and social media to a degree I never thought I would. I have overcome them as I always do, head on.
Myself and my co-founder make a great team who can research and understand most issues we have come up against. I follow my mantra of “Be yourself, respect others and follow your dreams.”
Where needed, we have liaised with several experts to get additional advice where reading was insufficient. We have a great network of mentors too, which has been a huge help.
What was your first big breakthrough?
We built and demoed a prototype of our app back in September 2016 to over 600 people in three key London hotspots (Shoreditch, Hackney and Soho) to test the idea. This was when we really realised we were onto something, as the feedback was fantastic.
It gave us the confidence and drive to push on and build our live app, which is in the stores now:
- 91% of single people signed up to the app
- 86% really liked or liked the app
- 82% of people could think of a friend they thought would want to use it
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Go for it! But be smart about it. Make sure you chose something you're passionate about. Do your research. Test your idea. And then commit … live your dream.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
Running clikd, an app (and company) that celebrates individuality, encourages creativity and excites its users. And hopefully we will have created some love, laughter and friendships along the way.