Dateme Kenya - Online Dating for the Busy Professionals in Kenya
If you're a single professional living in Kenya looking for a little romance but too busy or shy to troll the bars, coffee shops and other cliched meeting spots for a date, here's an idea, try the internet. Specifically try DateMeKenya.com, Kenya's first online dating site for well-to-do urbanites looking for that special someone.
Ian Hamilton-Isherwood, the site's founder, says DateMeKenya.com aims to provide an exclusive, hustle-free platform for busy professionals to meet compatible partners;
"Professional Kenyans are now finding it harder and harder to meet a genuine like-minded partner. They are working longer hours and concentrating on building their careers, at the end of the day traditional dating is hard work and very time consuming. This is where DateMe Kenya comes in to help," he says.
Born and raised in Mombasa to Kenyan/British parents, Ian has always straddled two worlds. Although he has both Kenyan and UK citizenship, the last born in a family of four says he has always felt more Kenyan at heart. He even made a gamely but unsuccessful attempt at registering for the last elections in Mombasa.
Sitting at his office on Ngong Road Ian laughs off the incident saying people are always surprised at how patriotic he feels as a white Kenyan. This perhaps is the reason he is so determined to make the dating site a success;
"I consider myself a very proud Kenyan and excited to have set up the first company to be able to offer my fellow Kenyans access to an exclusive premium website that allows them to enjoy the convenience of online dating and hopefully find many of them genuine, happy, committed relationships," he says.
"It's a billion dollar industry worldwide, with over 40 million users and one in five people now meeting their partners via an online dating website. Kenya has not been touched by this amazing phenomenon and DateMe Kenya plans to give Kenya its first taste of a premium online dating website that offers quality, safety and privacy all at a click of a button," he says.
Membership to DateMeKenya.com will be open to everyone as long as you are ready to pay for any of the monthly or yearly packages and adhere to the site's strict terms and conditions. Ian says that the site will not allow any wiggle room for mischief so that users get the quality experience they have paid for.
"Being a members only website means you only find genuine, quality people who really want to be here. A members-only site lets us provide the quality service you would expect from a premium dating website and maintain full control of who we allow onto the site. Everyone who becomes a member must read the rules (terms and conditions) and respect all other members," he said.
The site will be offering two aptly-named types of memberships; the Premium Chui and VIP Simba. As Ian puts it the 'VIP Simba' membership is pricier than 'Chui' because it allows members more "exclusive privacy settings that are designed to give the user a safer, more private DateMe experience. We know some people are rather private here in Kenya and we have catered for this."
Here's a thumbnail summary of the various types of memberships available;
One months - Sh4,000 per month
Three months - Sh2,400 per month (40% off) = Sh7,200 in total
Six months - Sh1,600 per month (60% off) = Sh 9,600 in total
12 months - Only Sh1,000 (per month 75% off) = Sh12,000 in total
One month - Sh7,000
Three months - Sh4,200 per month 40% off) = Sh12,600 in total
Six months - Sh2,800 per month (60% off) = Sh16,800 in total
12 months - Sh1,750 per month (75% off) = Sh21,000 in total
Ian says he appreciates that the price of the various types of memberships will be restrictive to some people but says he hopes those who do take it up will know they are paying for a quality experience.
"DateMe Kenya offers that quality people will appreciate. Just like the best hotels in Kenya. People know they can go there and everything will work, which is how I want DateMe Kenya to be," he says.
Besides offering the standard compatibility tests that are common with dating sites and agencies, Ian says the site will also offer plenty of other interactive features to lend it a unique and immersive quality.
Among these is the 'DateMe idea' which allows members to list the activities they like to engage in so that potential partners can take them up on the offer and accompany them. Ian says this is an 'easy icebreaker' because instead of just going on a typical date (coffee, lunch, dinner), the members can suggest what they would like to do on a date and they can be as imaginative as they want, karaoke, bowling, hiking, music gigs, adventure seeking, any activity that tickles their fancy;
"We allow people to suggest their own DateMe ideas. It's a simple and fun way to instantly connect with others and tell people what you want to do on a date. On every profile we have a 'DateME' box idea. In the box the member can write exactly what they want to do. The idea is then broadcast to all the other members and if another member likes the idea, they click "Great Idea" and they take it from there," says Ian.
Another feature is 'winking' which allows members to cheekily wink at others so as to show interest. An interactive discussion page will also be open so that members can talk about anything and everything they want, from dating experiences to finding out the best restaurants in town.
Ian also plans to nudge the members to interact with each other by inviting them to members-only events and parties so as to have more in-the-flesh experiences. Ultimately Ian hopes the members will also take the initiative and host their own events;
"DateMe Kenya will be hosting events throughout the year. This is to make sure our members stay active and get to meet people as well as have lots of fun. But not only can they attend events, but they can host them themselves. Say you just want to play some pool on Friday and have a few beers. Simple, add this to the event page and type exactly what is going on 'pool, beer and football this Friday at K1. 6pm start' other members will see this and if they want to attend they can," explains Ian.
Ian says he hopes to make some money from the membership fees but will also be relying on advertisers keen to create some buzz in a community that is bound to have people with disposable incomes;
"We have also designed the site so we can run localised adverts with special offers for our members to enjoy (half price drinks, meal discounts, special safari offers etc) so we plan to work with local companies to offer our members great offers as well as date ideas," he says.
If getting more than 4,000 likes on Facebook in seven days can be taken as a sign, then DateMe Kenya has a bright future ahead of it. Ian says this is a great sign but wants to take a day-to-day approach so that the success is gradual rather than instant;
"It would be great if I could make a small group of people happy first before the site properly takes off. Having many people would force me to hire a bigger staff to manage it. I just hope to maintain the standards of the site," he says.
Ian says the germinal idea for the site came to him when friends complained about how hard it is to meet like-minded people in Nairobi when you're juggling professional responsibilities. He says he wants this to remain the central focus of the site;
"My main objective is to ensure the site succeeds in helping people make long term commitments and not just casual hookups. If I can do this for just two people then it would be very fulfilling indeed," he says.
The site was officially launched on Saturday the 27th of July.