Up-market dating as a business opportunity

 
Philip Salter
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FEES START FROM £8,000 (+VAT) – WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO PAY SO MUCH?
People pay the fee as they want to meet someone on the same financial footing. The world has changed, for women especially. We marry later, have kids later and earn more. A woman’s shopping list for a man now has increased and become more precise in the last five years. Social structures change, people change, technology changes, demands and expectations become higher. And we are providing a service that reflects those changes.

HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK?
After the initial enquiry is made, we invite them for an interview at our office in Berkeley Square. This is to find out as much as we can about them, and what they’re looking for. Discretion is critical.

If they become a member, they’ll find that there are no pictures or profiles. We pick the people for each other based on what we know about our members. We give the number to the guy, who then calls the girl (always that way round). We leave it to them to then meet. Each one feeds back to us on how the date went, and we then give that feedback to the other one. They either meet again or not.

We take each round of feedback from every date and put that into the next one, so that we get it right. Communication is the key to success.

WHAT DID YOU DO PRIOR TO SETTING UP BERKELEY INTERNATIONAL?
I initially set up a computer company, which I ran for six years before selling it. It allowed me to move to Cannes, where I bought a hotel – drawing on studies I took in hotel management in Dublin. Again, I ran this for just over six years, then set up Berkeley international.

YOU HAVE APPEARED ON AMERICAN TV – IS THIS USEFUL FOR MARKETING?
TV is a wonderful medium for brand exposure – that’s no secret. However, you have to be a certain type of person to succeed on television. I’m still not sure if it suits me or not. You also need the right sell: TV coverage around the subject of dating is a natural intrigue for viewers – people love to watch others and experience their highs and lows. That’s why Big Brother is still on our screens – it’s a modern-day panopticon.

For entrepreneurs who go on television, the key is to be confident and to be armed with knowledge.

WHAT ARE THE KEY SKILLS OF AN ENTREPRENEUR?
You have to be a self-starter and be able to work well and motivate yourself on your own – don’t be afraid to take a risk. It’s also important to network intelligently, in whatever industry you work in. You never know who you are going to meet.

What made you want to start your own business and what advice would you give to anyone looking to do the same?

I need to be in control of what I’m doing. I need to be my own person, so I guess I knew from an early age that I would always have my own businesses.

In terms of insight, I’ve learnt not to spend too much money at the beginning. I have also learnt that intelligent delegation is fundamental – surround yourself with good people. And don’t be too trusting (it’s terrible to say, but true).

CV | MAIREAD MOLLOY | BERKELEY INTERNATIONAL
Job title: Global director (and founder)

Company turnover: £1m (est. 2012)

Age: 36

Born: Wexford, Ireland

Lives: Between Cannes, Paris and London

Studied: BSc Psychology and Masters Law/Criminology

Drinking: A little red wine

Reading: Anything related to psychology or crime in the media/police

Talents: Dynamic, extrovert, able to listen

Favourite business book: The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely

First ambition: It was never the job that mattered, but that whatever I did I had to be in control of it. I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life