The Business of Dating – What Investment Is Required?

The social ritual of dating has never been easy, but ask anyone these days about “getting out there,” and get ready for some out-there stories. Steve Ward has heard them all. For six seasons, he hosted the hit VH1 dating how-to series Tough Love, and is the co-founder of Master Matchmakers, a coaching and matchmaking service. Sorry ladies: he’s currently engaged (to Madison Pard) and he’s also engaged in delivering an app to the dating world that builds trust through a series of verifications, removing doubt.

Love Lab authenticates every user with a series of proofs used to build a level of trust people can take with them anywhere they date. After someone connects a social media account, they can take an instant selfie that is uploaded to the server, instantly measured and automatically compared to their profile photo for likeness. Once the profile pic has been proven, users can then prove their age and identity by passing a personal knowledge quiz based on public record data. Criminal background checks are also an option. Once a person is verified, people they meet anywhere can look them up on Love Lab without any personally identifying information, to be sure that what they see online is what they'll get in person.

Why? Now at an all-time high: violent crime, romance scams, and online contact that results in offline criminal occurrences (including rape and murder). Steve asks us not to blame the apps or the dating services – the online dating world has evolved so rapidly that it’s pretty much like the wild west – every man and woman for themselves. He hopes that Love Lab will be the new sheriff in town.

Also, forget about the casually common ritual of “Netflix and Chill.” Steve recommends the best way to stand out: be more conventional. That means old-school dating, which translates to modern-day chivalry. Fellas: ask the woman out, tell her when and where to meet, show up on time, dress very well, and be prepared to treat her to a nice meal. Then, escort her to her transportation or to her home. And follow up the next day, letting her know you had a nice time and you look forward to seeing her again. Hey, Millennials: this is what used to be called a typical, average date. No “hangin’.”

Steve is seeing that every eligible guy out there is living his own version of The Bachelor: constantly on the lookout for someone who just may have more potential, peering over the fence where the grass is greener. The trouble: the fence is invisible now. Eligible women – educated, attractive, gainfully employed and desirous of a relationship – outnumber the men by about 7:3 (according to John Berger’s book, Date-onomics).  Steve calls it a “paralysis of choice.”

For many women, the dating experience is often a vicious cycle of dating men who have relationship potential, yet after investing three weeks, three months, or even three years, the woman realizes that she is not developing her own potential or she is not evolving or progressing toward the ultimate relationship she craves. If she takes another dip in the dating pool, she may be branded as a serial monogamist, as if she is the one who cannot commit.

Steve says he’s invested over a quarter of a million dollars of his own money in perfecting the app (now in its third iteration), and he’s raised over a million dollars in his current preferred stock round. He also agrees with Mark Cuban that you have to be willing to go all in if you expect others to invest in you. Investors have to like the horse, but they especially have to love the jockey. If investors believe you are the right jockey, they believe you can ride that horse to the finish line and win the race.

Find out more about Love Lab, and Steve’s matchmaking service, Master Matchmakers.

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