LINKD: Patric Okumi
The co-founder tells us how he used his network to raise finance and what makes his start-up stand out in the crowded dating app market...
Name: Patric Okumi
Company name: LINKD
Date launched: 06/11/2015
Tell us what your business does:
LINKD is a mobile dating app designed to help time-starved professionals find quality dates. We are the first app in the UK to mix intelligent matching technology with a list of London’s hottest dating spots.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
As a single professional living in London, I recognised all too quickly that despite the plethora of dating apps on the marketplace there really wasn’t an intuitive app for professionals. With many of the ‘swipe to like’ apps stigmatised for being solely for ‘hookups,’ my team and I decided to create a platform that would offer like-minded users looking for something with a substance more than just a profile picture, name and age.
With many of the ‘swipe to like’ apps stigmatised for being solely for ‘hookups,’ my team and I decided to create a platform that would offer like-minded users looking for something with a substance more than just a profile picture, name and age.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Dating is one of those fantastic activities that will exist as long as humanity does. Without dating, we wouldn’t be here so there will certainly always be a market to help people meet.
What is interesting is what people want from an interaction. Some people are looking for new friends, some people are looking for love and others are not looking for commitment. Our lives are ultimately becoming increasingly more hectic and frustratingly websites that used to be perfect to meet professionals looking for more, have become archaic. With the lack of options, many people including myself resorted to the new breed of dating apps which offered an intuitive experience perfect for time-strapped people.
However for the singleton looking for something with substance, deciding to meet someone based on just a profile picture, name and age are almost as ridiculous as buying a car because it’s red. Time is a very precious commodity and LINKD was designed specifically to solve this problem and to ensure our users had enough information to decide on whether or not someone sounded right for them before meeting them.
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In addition to this, through our research – we discovered that users didn’t want to be told someone was a 90% match for them because romance isn’t quantitative. It’s a wonderfully fluid emotion that is influenced by an unquantifiable number of factors. Instead of selling false claims of everlasting love based on a ‘black box’ model – we chose to present the core pieces of information to users and empower them to make informed decisions based on what they were looking for.
What were you doing before starting up?
Prior to launching LINKD I had actually been working with the same team on another social media platform following a five-year equities trading career.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Not really but I have always been very creative and willing to give things a go if I thought something was a good idea regardless of people around me. Bizarrely aged 15 I was convinced I was going to be a novelist and even managed to pen together 3 spy thrillers simply because I thought a number of the books and movies out at the time were rubbish.
Launching LINKD was the result of similar thinking – we recognised that there was a void in the marketplace for an intuitive platform simplifying the dating experience for professionals so just did it.
How did you raise the money?
Working in finance certainly helped here and our investors turned out to be individuals that I had actually worked with in various roles.
What was crucial to raising funds was my team. My two co-founders being absolute rock stars in their respective fields of Tech and Design removed any execution risk doubts that ordinarily exist in addition to us having executed on another start-up currently in Beta form.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We are avid followers of Dave McClure “AARRR” start-up metrics ideology. As a start-up, we have everything to prove and, in turn, everything hinges on ‘Acquisition’. Without users on a social media product, there is no business.
We offer 3 tiers of membership. Basic, Premium and VIP. Basic is completely free however Premium and VIP are chargeable however both offer varying online and offline perks.
For now, we are very excited about showing off what we have developed and so are offering Free Premium accounts for all new downloads until the end of the year. Having been well funded with the right investors, we are all in sync and recognise that we want to make sure we offer our users a quality product before even thinking about monetisation.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I think most people have had similar ideas to hugely popular products in the world today.
In addition to the risk that someone else out there is trying to build a similar product, one has to face the grim reality that bigger better funded companies with millions of users may have the same lightbulb moment and divert some millions to building what we have built. However we found that the best way to deal with this was to simply focus on our mission and work harder and more effectively.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Definitely getting the app into the Apple Appstore. I still remember the first time I saw “Pending Developer Release”.
Apple is extremely meticulous regarding the apps they approve for download so to make that grade was a tremendous relief and meant that our hard work over the months hadn’t been in vain.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
I would say just do it! At the early stages it is easy to doubt the product, the market and even yourself at times. However the further you progress the more real it becomes. Of course this doesn’t apply to all ideas so do speak with close friends however ultimately stick to your conviction.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years we want to be the go-to name for professionals all over the world to discover new places with new faces – really is that simple. We have invested a lot of time into building up a brand that should resonate with individuals looking for more than a fling.
We do of course have some incredible new features in mind but one step at a time.