On our 9th birthday, Ross Williams, WhiteLabelDating.com's founder and CEO, reflects on the journey so far...
Over the last few years, I've always maintained that if you want to maximise the value of your business and be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour, then your goal as a founder CEO has got to be to hire people better than you in every area of the business and strive to make yourself redundant.
It takes time, but by achieving this goal you'll end up with a business that runs itself and can grow without needing the energy of the founders to constantly drive it forward.
And after nine years in business, I think we've got there.
When we started the company, it was just Steve and I working on the business part-time whilst still juggling our other responsibilities. We'd moderate photos ourselves, operate customer care and juggle all of the other tasks. I can still vividly remember on Christmas Day 2003, logging into our admin system to see the first payment of the day and realising that we were onto something if we could make money when we weren't in the office.
The talent that we've build up at Global Personals in the last nine years is truly astounding, attracting some of the best people in the industry to join our business. Many of our Senior Team have joined us from companies such as Match.com, Badoo.com, Lastminute.com, Sky, Vodafone, Sony Ericsson, Leo Burnett, News International, Playboy, MTV and many more successful organisations.
We've got what is probably the best web development team in the Thames Valley - and with the launch of our London office earlier this year, we're making inroads into the London tech scene as well.
Our customer care team is without doubt the best in the business - we work harder to support our customers than anyone else in the industry. Our in-house moderation team work 24/7 to protect the integrity of our database and provide the best service to our members.
We've been sending 12 million emails per day recently - a phenomenal achievement when you think about it and only possible due to the skill and tireless work by the CRM team. Their campaigns help maximise revenue for our partners and provide real differentiation within the market.
The WhiteLabelDating.com partner team work tirelessly to support our partners and help grow their businesses, ably supported by our in-house PR and marketing team.
Our commercial team, responsible for our portfolio of sites as well as new commercial initiatives, have done an amazing job. Particularly over the last 2 years, launching and managing some of the top dating sites in the UK. Indeed, following our acquisition of Smooch.com the second largest free dating site in the UK), we are without doubt the largest paid online dating company in the UK both in terms of UK traffic and UK revenues. Not bad, especially when you consider a third of our business now comes from overseas as well.
What I'm most proud of is to still be working with people that I worked with nine years ago when we started the company. The original architect of our software platform Tim Blair is still with us, as is Andrew Levett and Matt Harman - joined by over 130 other members of the team who will grow this business over the next nine years. (Tim and Andy both pictured above, wishing Matt a speedy recovery!)
As we enter our 10th year in business we can look forward to some hugely exciting international growth, expansion of our platform into mobile and social channels, more acquisitions of other companies as well as new revenue streams for us and our partners to capitalise on the 30,000 new members that join our platform every single day.
It's going to be an exciting year!