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A self-proclaimed introvert who has been working in tech sales at Fortune 500 companies and regional startups, Grace Tan might seem like an unlikely candidate to start a dating business, even to herself.

But here she is, being featured on Vulcan Post as the founder of Date Well Project (DWP).

DWP was founded at a time when people were looking for connections, Grace explained.

She added, “Being very transparent, I wanted to meet someone, but didn’t feel comfortable putting my profile out there on a dating app.”

This was during the pandemic, where people had been isolated for long periods of time and did not have the opportunity to connect with others. And this social isolation amongst singles was becoming a real issue, Grace noted.

So, she started looking for singles events but they all seemed too formal for her liking. Instead of just quitting her search, though, Grace decided to develop a solution.

With encouragement from friends and her lecturer, she decided to try out and just organise her first event, a painting singles and mingle in December 2022.

Image Credit: Date Well Project

“After the first event, I started getting more queries about our future events and the rest is history,” she said.

“I never thought that I’d be the right person to fill that gap,” she admitted. “If you feel passionately about solving a problem, you will be able to find a way around it. And yes, I did meet my boyfriend at one of our events.”

Making business partnerships

But Grace isn’t working on DWP alone. She’s joined by co-founder Carlos Fernández, an industrial engineer turned marketer who moved from El Salvador to Southeast Asia five years ago.

Image Credit: Date Well Project

“It all started with an Instagram DM from Carlos after I started advertising about our first few events,” Grace explained.

Carlos explained that they met a couple of months after Grace founded Date Well Project because he was looking to become a dating coach.

“During my market research I found a recently started Instagram account that was having an event soon,” Carlos said. “We decided to use our strengths in psychology and marketing for growing an organisation that was aligned with our vision and beliefs.”

Image Credit: Date Well Project

Prior to her career in tech sales, Grace actually pursued her Bachelor’s in marketing and psychology, and is currently pursuing her graduate studies in counselling.

“What gave us the confidence to get into DWP was our empathy for people who have been struggling in their dating and emotional life. It is ironic seeing how connected we are in this day and age, but so disconnected at the same time,” Carlos said.

Currently, DWP is still a side gig for the two, but it’s scaling in a very considerable level that the duo may need to make important changes soon.

For Grace, she doesn’t really see DWP becoming her full-time job, as she truly enjoys her full-time role in tech sales.

But Carlos, who works as a full-time digital marketing manager, hopes to make DWP his main commitment one day.

A well for likeminded individuals

Explaining DWP’s name, Grace shared that it refers to wanting folks to date well, but also serves as a ‘well’ where individuals tired of constantly trying so hard can find respite.

DWP offers free webinars, speed dating activities, and so much more. All activities involve social contribution, which is mostly contributions from the ticket prices and revenue to their current NGO partners.

Something unique that DWP offers is the Volun-dates, which involve direct social contributions and donations from the ticket proceeds. Think things like beach clean-ups, helping people in need, teaching children, and more.

Image Credit: Date Well Project

For these Volun-dates events, DWP plans agendas where people have the opportunity to talk to each participant at least once while still doing good.

Plus, the activities typically start with ice-breakers to settle the nerves a bit, and there is downtime after the event where people can hang out.

“We also encourage participants to make friends with the same gender,” they added. “You will be surprised to hear so many of our participants became hiking friends or badminton buddies after the events.”

Image Credit: Date Well Project

Most participants are in their mid-20s to late-30s, they said, though they’ve been expanding their pool this year. One challenge, though, is gender balance. Unsurprisingly, women are more open for programmes like DWP, compared to men.

In any case, since December 2022, DWP has hosted more than 40 events and has done more than 150+ matches in 2023.

“As we were a two-man team for a long time, we are just starting to reach out for success stories,” they shared. “But we have gotten word of one married couple, two engaged couples, and numerous couples are currently dating.”

Making a match

Aside from their events, DWP also has a paid matchmaking service.

The process starts first with the team making sure that the client understands the product. From there, they get on an onboarding call with a professional psychologist and matchmaker.

“We create a psychological profile that helps to not only understand what the client wants, but also what they need and pairs up better with them,” the team elaborated.

After settling on a pricing package, the DWP team starts the search for a matching profile in their pool of singles.

When a potential match is found, the client will be given the details for the match. Once a match is accepted, a quick brief is done before and after the blind date arrangement.

DWP also provides pre-date coaching to guide clients through pre-date jitters and expectations as well as post-date feedback.

Image Credit: Date Well Project

“Our average matching rate in our speed dating events is 60+%, which means there is a good chance for you to make good connections,” they added.

The DWP team also affirmed that they’re always available to support attendees before, during, and after participating with DWP.

Date well, live well 

Rather than limit themselves to romantic dates, DWP is looking to diversify their events.

They’re exploring events to make friends called Socials (open for both single and taken individuals), a women support group called Girls’ Circle, and then eventually men support groups, relationship coaching services, and partnerships with mental health institutions and professionals.

Image Credit: Date Well Project

Growing beyond KL, the duo’s sights are set on areas like Penang, Johor, and Singapore where they have received interest.

They said, “Our vision of healthy love and friendships expands to the Southeast Asian region, understanding and adapting to each country’s cultural nuances in dating.”

Empowered by this vision, DWP may truly blossom from a localised “project” into a business and community with a regional focus.

  • Learn more about Date Well Project here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Date Well Project

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