Durban - Being single is hard. Trying to find a suitable partner is such a nightmare for some that they’d rather not bother. Others will go out every weekend hoping for a chance to meet a potential partner.
Many have tried speed dating and other dating services but achieved no success.
Suzette Leal and Tilda Loots have revitalised the dating scene in Joburg, thanks to their Meet Joburg events. Now they plan the same thing for Durban.
After a successful launch in Durban last Saturday, it seems the city’s social and dating scene is about to change for the better.
How did you come up with the concept for Meet Joburg?
In December 2010 my husband and I went on holiday with a good friend. We were supposed to go away with him and his new girlfriend, but when we met him at the airport in Cape Town it was only him.
He has a helicopter and we flew to our amazing holiday destination. Upon arrival, he said “Okay guys, I have to come clean. I’m internet dating”.
He announced this as if it was something embarrassing and he didn’t want too many people to know about it.
This statement encouraged a lively discussion (from me mostly). I asked him all the ins and outs of his online experience.
Basically, it had been a disaster. The girls he met online were either not what their profiles portrayed, were simply after his money or were desperate stalkers with whom he had no connection.
I couldn’t understand how a successful, attractive, intelligent, and kind man could not meet an equally fabulous woman.
He said he just wished he could meet someone in a natural, comfortable, sophisticated environment without the awkwardness and contrived nature of internet, speed or blind dating.
On my return from our holiday, I met my best friend Matilda Loots, who has PhD in psychology, and we started researching the concept.
We realised there was a huge gap in the market and we secured an investor and got the ball rolling.
There are many popular dating clubs – what’s different about Meet Joburg?
Our philosophy is that we are not a dating agency, a matchmaking service or speed dating platform.
We simply facilitate the introduction of single people by hosting fun, sophisticated and entertaining events to suit the interests and personalities of our members.
We believe attraction should and will come naturally. We provide the environment – the rest will happen on its own, the way it’s supposed to.
How has the uptake been in Joburg?
Meet Joburg has grown phenomenally. We now have almost 2 000 people on our database and host about eight events a month, most of which are fully booked within four days of sending out invitations.
Is the plan now to spread Meet Joburg to the other big cities?
Yes. We’ve already launched the Meet Durban franchise and we’ve sold two other franchises.
We are launching Meet Gayburg in Joburg this week.
Meet Cape Town will be launched in March next year. We’re in discussions to sell Meet Pretoria and who knows where this will take us?
Regarding your recent launch in Durban, how did Durbanites receive it?
Durban is such a different market from Joburg. That’s why we sold the Meet Durban franchise to two connected, successful Durbanites, Calvin Jacobs and Leeanne Ibbetson, who not only understand the Durban market but who are also demographically representative of the area.
The concept of Meet Durban has been welcomed enthusiastically by everyone who has heard about it and by those who were able to attend the launch.
The response so far has been very positive because this is something new to the Durban area and there is a real need.
Durban’s market is very hard to please. Do you think Meet Durban will become popular and get bigger every month?
Is it harder to please than Joburg? I don’t think so (laughs) I have no doubt that Meet Durban will become bigger every month as the word gets out.
Durban will be an easier market to penetrate and therefore the growth should be quick and constant.
The Durban events will be fun, safe, exciting, different and they will be structured and hosted in such a way that the Durban crowd will find them irresistible.
What are your hopes for the Meet franchise?
I would like all the Meet groups to get to a point where we’re hosting events every night of the week from Wednesday to Saturday, also in the different demographic areas, which will then mean that a few Meet events will be held on the same evening but in the different areas within that region.
It is the most rewarding thing to see people having a great time and meeting other like-minded individuals.
Has there been a success story of a couple that met through Meet Joburg?
I’d say that 70 percent of the people who meet through Meet Joburg form some sort of relationship. This might be of a romantic nature, friendship or event networking opportunity
I’ve personally run into quite a few lovebird couples in restaurants that we’ve introduced to each other.
Why should single people come to one of the Meet gatherings?
The Meet gatherings are natural social platforms where people interact and mingle. There is no pressure and interaction is not forced.
The Meet gatherings are events that are structured around your specific personality, interests and values.
After completing the application process, an invitation to an event that is tailor-made to suit your profile will be sent to you.
Each event is grouped differently so that not only will you have an awesome night out, but you will also meet some very interesting and fantastic people. - Sunday Tribune