My name is Sam Moorcroft and I’ve been helping singles of faith connect for over two decades on ChristianCafe.com.
Singles of all ages, backgrounds, faith journeys and locations worldwide have made successful connections through our online dating service.
Over 25,000 marriages have resulted! Over 3,500 of our success stories are posted in our Testimonials section, going back 20 years.
Here are some successes:
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
Back in 1997, I was living in Vancouver, stuck in a low-paying job, and found myself suddenly single. An opportunity came up for a great paying job in Toronto, so I took it and moved there. Six months later, my new employer had huge layoffs and I found myself unemployed - and still single. Having lots of free time, I started surfing the ‘Net and came across these new dating sites which were springing up. I considered them places for the desperate, but to my surprise, the women I met were well-adjusted and attractive. I ended up connecting with several women, both in the Toronto area and all over the United States.
In addition to having a great idea for a product or service that is either not being done well or doesn’t yet exist, you must be passionate about it.
My business mind clicked while meeting these women, so I started christiancafe.com with my brother in 1998. We launched our first version in early 1999 and the rest is history. 22 years later, we're still at it, helping singles of faith connect. Hundreds of thousands of connections have been made and every day, reports of new marriages come in.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
I had always worked for small employers, enjoying the autonomy and multi-tasking that small businesses bring to their staff. You get to wear many hats, as resources are usually limited, and everyone has to do many things to make the business work.
I didn’t fancy myself as an entrepreneur, but looking back, I was doing a lot of the same things that entrepreneurs do. I fell into my own business, as it grew out of my desire to meet someone and build a life together with that person.
As it turned out, I was introduced to a young lady through another woman I met on an online dating service before starting ChristianCafe.com. Pollyanna came to work for me in the Fall of 1999 and helped grow the company from a small niche player to a multi-million-dollar business. Along the way, she and I started dating. Two years after that we got married, in 2003. We now have 5 children (including 2 sets of twins). So, we can say that what we do for a living worked for us!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Operating a dating site may look easy (and we do make it look simple), but it’s not. There’s a reason we have so few direct competitors. We’re one of the only ones in our niche that makes a profit. We’ve got competitors that are larger than us, however, they consistently lose money. They’re forced to subsidize their Christian singles division from other dating websites in their portfolio. That’s because you can’t spend $200 to make $100. We spend $50 to make the same $100. We were profitable within a year of our launch in 1999.
Customer acquisition is the hardest part of this business model. Only a small number of singles who see us promoted online will create a trial account. A small number of those will take out a paid membership. And, the average subscriber stays for only 6 months or $125 worth of payments. This means that there is a limited amount we can spend to attract a new subscriber, which is a few dollars per trial lead. But, to make the business work, we need a steady supply of new leads (wide funnel entrance) that tapers down (narrow funnel exit) to enough paying subscribers.
We’re experts, though, at attracting new trial leads. Virtually all of our daily intake is from name recognition by our market (due to our longevity and success), SEO marketing, and compensating traffic drivers based on a fixed cost per lead or a percentage of subscription revenue. In other words, when we pay for leads, it’s mostly on the back-end.
We also deal with non-singles-related issues that business outsiders don’t realize, e.g., “scammers” from West Africa or Eastern Europe. They cause regular members to not want to pay for dating sites. We figured out years ago how to stop 99% of this from happening via our proprietary behavioral algorithm.
We run a lean business with as much automation as possible. We’re 100% virtual and have had our servers in the Cloud since 2012. Our overhead is therefore very low. The largest expense, by far, is wages, followed way down by marketing and then overhead.
Our goal, as always, is to continue offering a great dating experience for our members and helping more of them get married. And, business-wise, to provide a great living for us and our staff.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
When we first started, a lot of the technologies and tools taken for granted today weren’t available. So, we had to invent them or customize existing tools for our own needs. While we do outsource some things to 3rd parties, everything else we build in-house.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
A former mentor once asked me, “What’s the difference between a good salesperson and a great one?” Answer: a great one believes in his/her product.
In addition to having a great idea for a product or service that is either not being done well or doesn’t yet exist, you must be passionate about it. And people have to see the value in your offering and want to give you their hard-earned money to have it.
All of the above is useless, however, if you don’t have the means to make it happen. Too many want-to-be entrepreneurs don’t answer basic questions such as how they’re going to pay their cost-of-living expenses, or how they’ll finance their new idea. A lot overestimate their revenue and underestimate their expenses. And, the time it will take for their idea to go from concept to reality.
Being organized is important, too. Some entrepreneurs are organized. A lot are not. If that’s you, you need to recognize it and hire someone who is. Too many businesses fail due to being sloppy, late with payments, taxes, and other expenses.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you’re presently single and your Christian faith is important to you, then come visit us. We’ve got a great free trial, where you can see all that we have to offer, for 10 days (7 days for your profile and 3 more for your photos). Unlike other dating sites, we treat you almost the same as a paid subscriber for the duration of your trial. Tell your single friends, too!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
Get our 5-minute email newsletter packed with business ideas and money-making opportunities, backed by real-life case studies.