Most of the entrepreneurs I interview are not trained marketers. Instead, they are just people who have a business vision and go for it, learning about branding and marketing as they go.
Then there are innovative entrepreneurs like Emma Thorndyke, marketers who decide it is time to stop building someone else’s brand and set out to develop their own.
Over the last few years I have watched with envy as Emma has built the Dating Safaris brand throughout Australia. And now that she is about to take on the world, I thought it was time to ask Emma how she does it in another Innovate or Die exclusive.
What is Dating Safaris all about?
Dating Safaris are urban adventures between the coolest bars in Australia’s capital cities with your friends.
On a Safari, participants need to grab 2 friends as wingmen and will follow an itinerary leading them to 3 different bars throughout the night. In each bar they meet a new group of 3 members of the opposite sex. At the end of the night all 18 people on Safari meet up to carry the night on in a final meet-up bar.
It’s like speed-dating – Just much much better!
Why did you start Dating Safaris?
I used to work for a speed dating company in the UK and after breaking out in to a cold sweat every time I’d watched 2 people awkwardly sat in silence opposite each other for 3 minutes, I would think, there must be a better way to meet people!
Dating Safaris tries to make dating as fun and as close to an awesome night out with your friends as possible and succeeds in eradicating those awkward moments!
Where did the name “Dating Safaris” come from?
Safari Suppers were progressive dinner parties that neighborhoods in the 1960’s used to organize in England. Dating Safaris uses the same progressive concept, hence the name. Plus we love a bit of retroness.
Who does your business cater for and what is special about them?
Most Safaris are for ages 23-33. People who come on Safari, due to its nature tend to be outgoing and social since they need to have 2 friends to take the journey with them.
What are you doing at Dating Safaris that you consider innovative?
At Dating Safaris we’re always open to new things, we’ll try anything that we think Safariers will love. Recently we have embarked upon a Micro-Brewery Safari, Wine Bar Safari and even introduced Picnic Safaris – Boozy long lunches in the park (they might just be our favourites )
How are you marketing Dating Safaris?
Since we’re pretty small, we don’t have a large marketing budget. We’re very lucky that Dating Safaris is a concept the media are interested in and have had some wonderful articles written by Cleo, MX, Daily Express and Channel 7.
The majority of people hear about us through word of mouth, there are always stories that people want to share after an event, so that helps with spreading the Safari love!
What has been the best part of starting Dating Safaris?
As a single girl in Sydney, having a way to meet lovely single men has obviously been a highlight!
But hearing stories of blossoming romances or new friendship groups being formed after events is also a great part of the business.
What has been the hardest part?
The supposed man drought in Sydney!
What is the best piece of business advice you have received?
A formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune. Wise words from Jim Rohn!
I think that making sure that you are constantly self-educating and expanding your mind is very important.
What’s next for Dating Safaris?
Dating Safaris is launching in the UK in September which is exciting, we have some wonderful bars onboard.
Also, in November, Picnic Safaris will be starting again in Sydney with a new wine sponsor and delicious 4 course meals from The Greedy Caterer!
Finally, what is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to start their own business?
There will be lows along with the highs of starting a business so you’ll need to find ways to stay positive!
Switch your iPod tunes for motivational talks and always make sure you have a non-fiction book in your bag for when you’re waiting in queues! Make the most of your time! We love Anthony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, Michael Gerber and Tim Ferris!