The UK referendum and a potential Brexit are now approaching, leaving cities like Berlin, Stockholm and Paris competing to become Europe’s next #1 tech hub. With Amsterdam being in the middle of this ‘battle’, we asked Michael Krayenhoff, co-founder of The Inner Circle, why they launched their dating app in Amsterdam first and why they opened a second office in London shortly after.
Myself and business partner, David Vermeulen first met at a dinner party in London. David’s long term relationship had just ended and a few days after signing up to an online dating website, he deleted his profile because he was less than impressed.
We got chatting about dating websites and it transpired that we found the online dating world to be too concerned with amassing quantity, rather than quality. Online dating platforms seemed to be more interested in mass membership, than cultivating a more refined clientele of like-minded singles.
David spoke of making a dating website, but making it differently. One that was tailored to the lives of like-minded, high-achieving men and women, and that carried out a rigorous screening process in order to eliminate the hassle of sifting through thousands of unreliable and unsuitable profiles. So the next day, David and I met and started working on the concept of The Inner Circle.
Us both being Dutch but living in London, we knew Amsterdam was the perfect test market to launch in first. It’s a well-known start-up hub, with a high density of young professionals living, working and enjoying recreational activities within the same area of the city. Initially, this made raising the profile of The Inner Circle much easier, because exposure through word of mouth was so effective. It was also a bonus because it suited our bootstrapped marketing budget and helped get initial traction for the business.
Amsterdam also offered a diverse, multifaceted culture on which to test our business, which was perfect because thinking ahead, we wanted to reach more of a global market. I believe recent figures on the Amsterdam City Administration revealed Amsterdam is now home to 180 nationalities. Because of this international focus, a large portion of the population speaks English which really helped us in terms of spreading the word, and generating feedback.
Amsterdam was also the obvious choice to start-up our business because of its strong travel infrastructure, making it a hub from which creativity and people flow in and out. Many young entrepreneurs consider Amsterdam to be the gateway to Europe. Start-ups are now much more part of the agenda in Amsterdam, which ultimately inspires creativity and attracts not only Dutch start-ups, but start-ups from all over the world.
Amsterdam was the perfect birth place for The Inner Circle, because it allowed us to test run our business in a diverse market whilst optimizing our product on a small budget.
Making the decision to expand into London felt like a natural one. Amsterdam, with all its benefits could still not offer us what we needed in terms of growth potential, media reach, investors (not needed so far) and staying ahead of the game. We knew London would be a different ball game altogether; big budgets and a great product is a must to make it in London.
We quickly found that unlike Amsterdam, the market in London was much more fragmented, with the networks of young professionals spread out all over the city, making it that much harder to reach our target market. Furthermore, London is a leader when it comes to trends, there is always something new popping up which makes it that much harder to keep the attention and the buzz around us.
Having said that, we had something new to offer with The Inner Circle because we were, and still are London’s first exclusive invitation only dating platform. Regardless of the challenges faced in London, The Inner Circle has continued to grow and we can proudly say that London is now our largest market, with well over 40,000 members.
Since its inception in 2013, The Inner Circle has expanded rapidly and now has networks in Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Milan, Paris, Zurich and Stockholm. Check-out The Inner Circle here.