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50 Is the New 30 - Why We Invested in Passions

Aurore Falque-Pierrotin
November 27, 2018

Funding a dating app… Really ?!

Along with gaming and hardware, online dating is a frown upon topic in the venture capital industry. VC investors just do not invest in dating. Full stop. As Andrew Chen explained here, some reasons typically put forward include:

  1. The perception that the market opportunity is limited
  2. Doubts on the potential for virality and on the scalability of paid acquisition channels
  3. Concerns about the high competitive rivalry on user categories predominantly targeted to date (i.e. millennials) and the fact that it’s hard to extract value from those populations

Yet a new generation of mobile dating products have emerged, bringing answers to some of the challenges mentioned before. Passions is one of them.

Passions’ current iOS application

First, we need to acknowledge that, once seen as for the socially awkward, online dating has now become completely mainstream. Beyond powerful dating conglomerates such as Match Group / IAC, even Facebook has recently announced that they were entering the dating space with a new product to be launched in the coming months. People are also increasingly willing to pay for dating services: in 2017, Tinder came only second to Netflix in terms of global consumer spend in apps (outside of gaming).

Yet, while the millennials’ market is flooded with popular apps (Bumble, Happn, Yellow or Hinged to name a few), the 50+ segment is a relatively underserved category — beyond legacy web-based platforms such as Meetic & DisonsDemain in France. Nevertheless, they represent a huge opportunity, with one single out of two currently older than 50 years old in Europe. And current demographics patterns and the recent evolution of divorce rates are only exacerbating this trend.

Seniors are also increasingly technologically-savvy and are way better positioned than their younger counterparts to enjoy the benefits of a thrilling dating life: the kids have (finally) grown up, they have more free time to discover the joys of Serbo-Croatian 1940s cinema and a higher purchasing power — with both men and women actually willing to pay for dating services.

On the other hand, seniors are also more demanding than the typical dating customer as they usually know themselves better as well as what they want from their potential partner in life, drawing from a longer history of relationships — like-minded tree-hugger handsome bachelor HELL YES; pizza-loving outdoorsy hipster DEFINITELY NOT. Their expectations in terms of user experience are thus somehow different than those of millennials. Hence, at Samaipata, we do not believe in a “winner-takes-all” in the dating industry, with one or few mainstream dating apps dominating the market. Each customer niche has distinct dating dynamics & expectations that need to be addressed by a specific value proposition, ensuring higher retention rates.

That is why Passions’ approach is fascinating: a mobile-native application allowing seniors to meet people nearby that share the same centres of interests or “passions” (#extensivenamebrainstorming) — on a freemium model. Rather than random hook-ups, fostering high-quality encounters is at the core of their value proposition, with a homogenous user base from a gender perspective since day 1 (50% of users are women, which is unique in dating!) and thorough age control in the process of being set up.

We believe the Passions’ founding team is best-positioned to deliver on this value proposition. The squad behind the project (Margot, Ruben, Florent and Thomas) knows each other well and are used to working together: they were all part of the inception of Happn in 2014, which recently hit 50 million users worldwide. Additionally, subsequently to Happn, Margot went to work for Bumble on branding, Ruben for Baidoo on user acquisition and Florent for Meetic on tech & product. It’s only fair to say that they know the dating market inside out, and have the optimal skillset to deliver on the main success factors for a dating app:

  1. Building a differentiated messaging in line with the specific niche targeted (i.e. Branding)
  2. Acquiring users at a low cost (i.e. Acquisition)
  3. Optimising UI/UX (i.e. Retention)
  4. Converting users to paying (i.e. Monetisation)

That is why we decided to lead their pre-Seed round, alongside our friends at Founders Future and few relevant Business angels. Passions is the perfect embodiment of our investment thesis at Samaipata, i.e., a two-sided marketplace achieving long term defensibility through the powerful combination of a strong consumer brand and significant network effects at scale. We couldn’t be happier to welcome them as our 12th company in the Samaipata’s family!

All in all, 50 is the new 30 ! If you’re over 50 (or being realistic about my potential readers’ age, if you're single parents’ are), join the revolution and download the app!

Passion has soft launched less than 2 months ago on iOS, and they already have more than 30,000 users. This is only the beginning: many more exciting & unique features to come in the next weeks ! Stay tuned.

**

At Samaipata, we are always looking for ways to improve. Do not hesitate to send us your thoughts. We strive to partner with early-stage founders and to support them in taking their business to the next level. Check out more ways in which we can help here or for all our other content here.

And as always, if you’re a European digital business founder looking for Seed funding, please send us your deck here or subscribe to our Quarterly updates here.

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