'Launching in America was the best decision we ever made' - Robyn Exton, Dattch

20 QUESTIONS: The founder of the women-only dating app talks about her plans to move to the US and why she wants to rename her business.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 18 Sep 2014

1. IF YOU HAD DONE SOMETHING ELSE WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?

I was working in branding and marketing, so I’d have carried on with that. I wanted to understand how to run an agency - I was interested in the finances and strategy behind it.

2. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU NAME YOUR BUSINESS?

It would be something people could spell, because at the moment that’s the biggest problem with our name. Something that sounds less like Snatch, because that’s what we get asked all the time.

3. IF YOU COULD BE BASED IN ANOTHER CITY WHERE WOULD IT BE?

A very pertinent question - we are moving location. We’re looking at American cities at the moment. We’ve had such a great response from the users there.

I wouldn’t necessarily go there, but I think New York is a brilliant city for us. It’s got a really diverse LGBT scene, really diverse cultural scene, but it also has the American attitude, which is really positive towards meeting new people. So it works really well with an app that helps you meet new women.

4. WHEN YOU STARTED, HOW DID YOU RAISE MONEY?

In the very early days I saved up a bootstrap fund, and that came from me moving back in with my parents, cutting out all spending and working in a pub part time. After that, the first money was from getting in the Wayra accelerator, run by Telefonica. Then I raised money from angel investors - frankly, a lot of coffee meetings and pitches.

5. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DECISION SO FAR?

Launching in America. It wasn’t a planned decision - it was a bit of an impromptu one - but it’s the best decision we ever made. It’s changed the story of the business.

6. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE?

Trying to do too much myself. I’m the single founder and I got the bad habit of doing everything myself because I had to originally. When I got new people on the team it took me a while to leave them to it.

7. WHAT IDEA DO YOU WISH YOU HAD COME UP WITH?

Uber, because it’s an amazing business and it’s made my life incredibly easy every time I go travelling.

8. HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESS?

Recently, I eat a lot, which is terrible and really bad for me. As a consequence of that I now go running a lot.

9. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?

Babysitting, but then being a waitress at a cafe. I think the the legal age was 14, and I was 13 when I started - it was cash in hand.

10. WHAT WAS YOUR WORST JOB?

My worst job was doing laundry at a hospital. It was pretty smelly and everyone hated their job. It was a really depressing place.

11. WHAT WAS YOUR BEST JOB?

I have to say it - it’s true - but what I’m doing now. I didn’t ever know that this could be a job. Making decisions and trying to build something cool with friends is amazing. At my creative agency we used to do a lot of photo shoots and that was really good fun. Going to studios or different cities or countries and working with teams to create beautiful images - that was fun.

12. IF YOU WERE ON THE APPRENTICE WOULD YOUR TEAM BE NAMED?

Hot Air. I'm not a big fan of the show - it's a lot of people putting on a performance to win a task and say the right things and protect their own personal brand. It doesn't feel like people that are genuinely looking to build or grow a business.

13. WHAT COMPANY WOULD YOU INVEST IN RIGHT NOW?

Rentify. I’m obsessed with them, they’ve got a fantastic product that’s making it easier to rent flats and for landlords to lease them.

14. APART FROM PROPERTY, WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING YOU’VE BOUGHT?

My Vespa.

15. SUIT OR JEANS?

I wear both, but more jeans.

16. FLEXIBLE WORKING OR OFFICE HOURS?

Flexible working. Everyone on our team works from where they need to, when they need to. We all get what we want to get done done.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE OFFICE?

We’re getting a new office, which is going to be really cool, but for the moment the team. And the amount of sweets and cakes that we have.

18. WHAT APP CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?

Probably Facetime. When I’m travelling I Facetime my family and friends.

19. WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS IDOL?

Martha Lane Fox. She talked at my old creative agency. She was super real, super tactical and very relatable. The fact that she’d run Lastminute.com and then become a digital champion for the government -  it was the first time I’d seen a great female role model in tech and I thought she was fantastic.

20. IF YOU WERE PRIME MINSTER FOR THE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

I would make everyone complete a year in the workplace before selecting and completing their degree. I think a lot of people choose their subjects without understanding the opportunities in other degrees and the impact it could have on their career choice if they really knew what field they wanted to work in.

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