My Week: Martin Bysh from

The programmer-turned-entrepreneur hates outsourcing - but likes mixing business with pleasure.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

There is very little structure to the week for me because I am so busy. Me and my business partner Marcus Hamilton run a number of other businesses alongside Smooch, which include a Jewish dating site called and a gay dating site, Man Central. We also have a small advertising agency and a work development company, so that all keeps us fairly busy. While there is a lot of overlap between the companies, we do have to go outside for certain skills - so we also outsource to companies in India, Turkey and the Ukraine.

Let’s face it, everyone hates outsourcing – no-one actually wants to do it. You outsource because you have no choice, because it makes financial sense. My problem is that often I’ll get paranoid that they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and I end up going out there to check up on them. And that’s more or less what happened at the end of last week: we had been having some trouble with our Ukrainian developers, so I went out there. Rather upsettingly, I had to miss a trip to Miami to go to a dating expo, but needs must and all that. It was a real experience going to the Ukraine actually. The airport I arrived at was no bigger than a shed, but despite its size there were no fewer than four passport checks once you got inside. Everything was totally frozen over and there were several feet of snow on the ground to negotiate.

Usually Marcus takes care of the technology side of things which leaves me to do what I’m best at, running the people side of things. This is a lot easier because the large majority of the people who work for us are friends. Marcus and I have been running businesses together now for 15 years, and worked together as freelance computer game developers for 10 years prior to that. When we initially started the business, we decided only to hire friends as far as possible, so we hired every friend that was either unemployed or willing to dump their job. The old adage says you should never mix business and pleasure, but we’ve found the opposite is true. It helps that we gave shares to most of the ones who joined us early, so they have a vested interest in making it work.

Most of my week is taking up by meetings, meetings and more meetings. I am a proponent of getting out and spending time with people and forming relationships because if you can’t do business with them directly, they might have a friend with whom you can. One relationship that has proved to be really fruitful is with our managed hosting provider Peer 1. This is a very busy time of year for dating sites so we need partners we can trust and who can grow with us. There is always a spike in traffic after Christmas – ours has doubled. The loneliness of the week between Christmas and New Year kills people. They’re at home with the family, who they’ve probably already fallen out with, and they’re bored. Then before you know it, it’s Valentine’s Day. Dating sites do work though, my business partner can attest to that. He met his girlfriend via one of our sites and they’re still going strong several years later.

Martin Bysh is the co-founder of, a dating site.

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