This week’s interviewee is Grainne Barry (pictured), business development director with Anotherfriend.com.
Is online dating now a more acceptable means of finding love in the Ireland of today?
It was definitely the case that in the early days there was a stigma attached to it but that has started to change. It has become more successful because of word of mouth; Irish people see it as a bit of craic and are more experienced at it. As a nation we are quite coy and a lot of people are nervous about putting their picture on the site but certainly more people are willing to try it out.
How many people use your site?
We have 150,000 registered members. About 90pc of our audience is in Ireland and about 10pc comes from overseas.
I’ve heard that your site is already credited with paving the way for quite a number of weddings?
There are about 52 marriages that we know of. Not every successful match tells us the result. There have been a few trans-Atlantic weddings between Irish Americans and Irish people. In fact there are loads of engagements in place at the moment.
How did Anotherfriend.com come about?
Three or four years ago my business partner Kevin Green was made redundant about the time of the dotcom crash. My background was marketing. We’ve been working at it three years now and it’s a pretty nice business to be in.
How is the online dating business as a whole?
It’s gone quite mainstream in the US. The biggest operator would be Match.com, which is owned by Ticketmaster. In the US alone there are 800 dating sites and these include niche sites focused on areas like Republican party dating and ‘love my pet’-type dating.
With the rise of broadband and the latest trends like social networking, websites are more complex. How do consumer-facing sites stay relevant?
We have to move with the times. We use instant messaging as well as voice over IP on our site. This helps us to protect people’s privacy and they don’t have to give out their phone numbers. Social networking has been around for a year or two and appeals to a younger audience. People go to dating websites because they are actively dating. They are happy to use sites like MySpace, Bebo or Friendster but they prefer to keep their dating activity to themselves.
By John Kennedy