Dating guru Charlotte Spokes is changing the way singles meet in London by putting on quirky dating events and singles night. Why swipe endlessly on Tinder and churn out the same tired lines when you can try axe throwing or a blind wine tasting quiz, and meet a whole bunch of like-minded people?
Charlotte says, "With the rise of dating apps, people are losing that ability to go and meet in normal situations and just have a chat. We are trying to bring that back by making the environment as comfortable as possible and taking out uninteresting chat."
How has the business changed since My Friend Charlie launched in 2017?
Charlotte says, "We were initially planning on pairing up people at events, now we just put on cool events for people that happen to be single. We help people have a good time, we're not doing the matchmaking side of things."
Now that My Friend Charlie's mantra - "pick an event, not a profile!" - is firmly on London's map, Charlotte is scaling up her business by using resources like Informed Funding, which helps connect businesses to finance. She had one free one-on-one consultations with a finance specialist while working out of Club Workspace at The Print Rooms in Southwark earlier this year.
My Friend Charlie has been financed so far by money raised through family and friends but is looking to raise another £150,000 - £200,000. Charlotte is on the cusp of deciding whether to launch a crowdfunding campaign or selecting two or three key investors.
To that end, in partnership with Club Workspace, Informed Funding helped connect Charlotte with an interim finance director, and she has also hired a marketing expert as well as a designer that oversees the business' development.
She says, "Informed Funding was an incredibly useful tool. It was a conversation where you can sit down and say, "This is what I'm doing, this is the money we've got and what we're spending. It focuses attention on what you need to do from an investor point of view."
Charlotte Spokes at iF Seminar, ‘Is your Business an exciting investment’, held at Record Hall on 12th June 2018.
Fundraising is the hardest part, which Charlotte describes as a "full-time job" but her interim finance director Mike is a good source of advice and helps to write pitches.
What's next for My Friend Charlie? Charlotte says, "We are developing our own technology and building an entire custom back-to-front end platform, a new logo and colour scheme that will lend itself to a franchise model." She wants to take her offline dating concept to other cities across the UK.
Charlotte is working with her new management team to expand the premium membership offering, build a booking app to launch early next year and find even more exciting events for London's singletons. The premium membership launched a few months ago - for £15 a month members can gain free access to events like a weekly bootcamp, which taps into the workout dating trend. From singles supperclubs to running drills in Hyde Park and regular comedy nights, My Friend Charlie has something for everyone.
Discover how Informed Funding can help you scale up your business at informedfunding.com and book in for your free one-to-one consultation with a funding expert. Informed Funding helped Charlotte to find and apply to the right accelerator funds, figure out new business models and do the boring, yet necessary, paperwork like financial statements. It is also supporting her potential foray into equity crowdfunding.
Charlie says, "Make the most of the free session, it may completely change the direction you're going in and can clarify if what you're doing is a good idea."
Looking for your dream workplace? With over 65 locations, let Workspace help you find your perfect match. Club Workspace is perfectly suited for fast-growing businesses like My Friend Charlie with affordable, flexible memberships and access to useful tools like Informed Funding. Gain access to Workspace's 20 co-working clubs across central London from as little as £150 per month.