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Entrepreneur Interview with Nevine Coutry, Founder of Playdate, about the UK’s first Dating App with a Childcare Feature targeting 3 million Single Parents in the UK
Nevine Coutry’s entrepreneur story begins like many but certainly takes a peculiar and rather personal turn, leading her to launch the UK’s first dating app for single parents with childcare arrangement features cleverly named Playdate.
Nevine tells the londonbusinessnews.com blog that her career began in her home country of Egypt working as a marketing manager for a large development and tourism company.
After moving to the UK in 2012 she established a successful marketing agency, Vcom Marketing, which grew rapidly supporting overseas companies and start-ups with UK representation and marketing services.
The company specialised mainly in tourism and events, so when the pandemic hit, Nevine lost all her clients and business overnight and was left with nothing, explaining:
How was the idea for the Playdate App born?
“I became a single parent in 2016 when our son was just 3 years old. I found it difficult to meet people and to put myself out there when I was ready to move on. People lead very busy lifestyles in London, and especially as a single parent, you don’t get time off, ever! I always had this idea of a dating app just for single parents but when business was good, I just didn’t have the time to truly pursue the idea. Then lockdown happened and I had all the time in the world. I then decided to start Playdate. The name came to me very quickly and I knew it would work. Playdate is a term that all parents know and use to arrange playdates for their children, so it was a fun play on words. This Playdate is for adults! Because why should we not enjoy ourselves and look out for ourselves?
“I started researching the market and realised that out of the 1,400 dating sites and apps available in the UK, not one of them catered solely to single parents. I found a developer to help me create the app as I had no tech background at all, but I knew that with my marketing background, and the fact that I was the target audience myself, I could make this work. As a single parent, a major hurdle to dating is actually childcare. Find a nanny or babysitter to look after your kids so that you can go out. So, I decided to partner with the UK’s leading sitter and nanny app called Bubble, who loved the idea of the app and agreed to become a key part of our features. Users of Playdate can book instant babysitters at a discount, which is a massive value add for single parents.
What was the biggest challenge to getting the Playdate app developed?
With no tech background of my own, it was extremely challenging to find a developer, and know what tech stacks to use, etc. I had to rely on an external party 100% so it took me a considerable amount of time looking for app developers online, asking friends, and reaching out to other app founders to ask for advice. It was a risk but definitely a risk worth taking!
How did you fund your venture as a single parent out of work during the pandemic?
This was the trickiest part, but because I believed in the concept and knew that it would become something, and when you are out of work left with nothing, you actually have nothing left to lose, I decided to put some of my savings into the business and also reached out to family members who also believed in the concept and helped me fund Playdate to get it off the ground. I’m forever grateful to them for believing in me and helping me fund this very personal business.
How did your marketing background help you with making the app a success?
As a marketer, you know the tricks of the trade and how to speak to a specific audience. It also helped that I am a single parent myself, so I am the consumer! It helped me formulate the name, messaging, positioning, and how to communicate the purpose and USP’s of the app. Marketing is everything in my opinion, especially in a highly saturated market such as dating apps.
Where is the Playdate App now and what is your vision for its future?
“After a year, we launched Playdate in April 2021 on both app stores and the feedback was overwhelming. We were featured in the likes of The Evening Standard and Marie Claire as one of the best new dating apps in 2021, and our users started slowly increasing. One year on, and we are at over 20,000 users. We listened to our users and their feedback on the app to improve and optimise it. Only recently, to celebrate our 1st anniversary, we launched our new app update with a new UI/UX and enhanced features to make it more appealing and user-friendly for our users. With just under 3 million single parents in the UK, the market is huge for single-parent dating. My dream is for Playdate to go global, and to become the world’s leading dating app for single parents. Next, we plan to launch in Europe, the US, and the Middle East and make it to the top of the world’s best dating apps.”
What makes your dating app stand out or special?
I would say quite a lot! Firstly, what makes Playdate special is that it is the UK’s first-ever dating app catering solely to single parents. With nearly 3 million single parents in the UK, that’s a big chunk of the population that is unaddressed, and now there is an app that speaks to them only, for those looking for meaningful relationships. The app’s biggest USP or stand-out feature is that it offers childcare solutions as part of the app because, for anyone who is a single parent or knows a single parent, childcare is always a hurdle when it comes to having a social life or going out kid-free. Very early on, while we were in the first stages of development, I decided to partner with the UK’s leading childcare and nanny app, Bubble, who loved the app idea and agreed to be part of the app, giving all our users access to on-demand childcare at a discounted rate. This way, there is no excuse for not going on that date! The purpose is to remove the stress of organising a date to make the process as smooth and easy as possible for single parents.
Have you found a new partner via the app?
I am not using the app myself as I feel that wouldn’t be right! With my face out there as the founder of Playdate, I’m not sure I would be comfortable, but never say never! For now, I am focusing on growing the business and ensuring that users are happy.