How Clémentine Lalande Put Slow Dating in the Fast Lane – Grit Daily

How Clémentine Lalande Put Slow Dating in the Fast Lane – Grit Daily

If you were alive in the ‘90s, there’s a good chance you’ll remember the awkward coupling craze known as speed dating. But for those born after the millennium, speed dating was an extreme matchmaking ritual where eager, eligible singles met in large herds hoping to quickly find a potential mate. Typically, strangers would sit at a table across from each other and then rotate every three minutes or so until they found a match. Think of it as swipe right meets musical chairs.

Thankfully, speed dating is ancient history, and so is swipe right. That’s because today’s selective singles are looking to take things a bit more slowly. And that’s why Clémentine Lalande’s slow dating app Once is taking the global digital dating world by storm. But it has taken a lot of work and perseverance to turn the fledgling startup that was nearly bankrupt into a multimillion-dollar acquisition success story.

“When you are a startup, cash is almost always a scarce commodity,” explained Clémentine Lalande, Founder & CEO of Once and Head of Growth at Dating Group. “We had big ideas and great technology, but by 2019 the company was quasi bankrupted. However, some fundamentals that were in our favor. We had to make some tough decisions, but we eventually became profitable and started to grow exponentially.” 

Under Clémentine’s leadership, Once became self-sustaining, amassing the resources needed to make a good dent in the ultra-competitive dating market. Within eighteen months of its turnaround, with over 9 million people using the app, Once was acquired by Dating Group for $18 million. Dating Group is the world’s largest privately held global dating and social discovery company, with annual revenue topping $300 million.

What sets Once apart from other dating apps is that it uses matching algorithms to deliver one match per day to each user — hence the name Once. It’s an innovative alternative to the growing number of swipe right apps that have flooded the market. Instead of cycling through dozens of photos each minute, with Once you get 24 hours of your match’s attention and you can continue chatting if you “like” each other. Once’s algorithms look at the account’s info, dating preferences and previous history to find the best possible match — and it continues to learn your preferences over time.

“When we entered the market, we knew we had something extraordinary,” added Clémentine. “We were coming at from a woman’s point of view, with the understanding that a lot of people now want slower, more meaningful encounters. Relationships aren’t only about sex; they’re about friendship, connections, shared understandings and so much more.”   

In addition to being one of the few female CEOs within the dating industry, Clémentine has also had a rather unique career journey. She grew up in France and admitted that she’s always been somewhat of a “nerd.”

“I studied hardcore math and physics, and then engineering,” she said. “And when I started my career, at a prestigious global consulting firm, I was known as the consultant with two laptops — because I always had heavy models running.”

After five years of working in the trenches as a high-stakes …….