On the up · 14 July 2016

This business is putting an emphasis on personality over looks

TextDater allows users to see photos of those they match with, but only after they start a conversation

Shortlisted for best new dating app at the UK Dating Awards in 2015, TextDater puts personality first – enabling users to get to know each other before their profile photos get revealed. We met founder and Bathtub 2 Boardroom resident Jon Pellington to tell us more. 

(1) Who are you and what’s your business?

Hi, I’m Jon, I’m 35 and from Birmingham, but living in London, and my business is called TextDater – a mobile dating app with a difference.  This app puts personality before pictures, turning mobile dating on its head!

(2) How long have you been around for?

The App was released October 2015.

(3) How do you make money?

We will make money from in-app advertising and purchases.  As well as this we have some strategic collaborations lined up in order to give extra value to our members and increase revenue.

(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?

Going back to the earlier question, TextDater really focuses on personality.  As most other dating apps are picture focused, TextDater actually starts you off with a blurred picture.  So then this puts the emphasis on your profile, and this is where you make the biggest impact.  The option to see clear pictures is available, but you need to start a conversation first.  Still don’t get it? Have a quick look at our helpful video.

(5) What was key in terms of getting started?

Capital!  Although the idea had legs and was getting some good attention, capital was needed to begin making the app a reality. Development and design aren’t free.  We were able to secure a start up loan via the government’s Start Up Loan scheme, and the partner who provided this as well as business support and mentoring with Virgin StartUp.

TextDater founder Jon Pellington

(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?

Being shortlisted for best new dating app at the UK Dating Awards in 2015.  It was great to be recognised as an app with potential and that was making people sit up and pay attention.

(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?

Problems with initial design, problems with development, problems with hosting, lots of financial issues, getting the marketing right, the list goes on.  But the company is still here and has come through ok.  Starting up solo is a challenge to say the least.

(8) In five years’ time, I will be…

The go-to name for over-30’s dating.  “Haven’t you tried TextDater?”

(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?

You’re always going to be a bit scared, so just do it!

(10) Who are your business heroes and why?

Two people – Sean Croxton and Richard Branson. They may seem worlds apart, but I do admire the fact they both started with very little and have made a huge impact on many people’s lives, be it health and wellbeing or first class airlines.  They are both relentless in their pursuit of goals and have had great catch phrases that I’ve incorporated into my life – “just eat real food” and “Screw it, let’s do it”.

Want more from our On the Up section? Read our interview with co-founders of new, no-nonsense PR firm the Big Ideas Machine

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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