12/11/2008 - 22:00

Lunch Works feeds into busy sector

12/11/2008 - 22:00

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ENTREPRENEUR Brad Matheson founded online community and dating service Lunch Works in 2004 after discovering a unique position within a congested market in Perth.

Brad Matheson says Lunch Works occupies a unique space in the online dating sector

ENTREPRENEUR Brad Matheson founded online community and dating service Lunch Works in 2004 after discovering a unique position within a congested market in Perth.

His site's point of difference was prompted by a demand to link online communities to venue guides, a concept new to the personal services industry in Western Australia.

The listed restaurants, cafes and bars offer the company's clients discounts, with the site used by those establishments to drive customers their way.

"I was looking for something better than existing means to online dating and making new friends. I couldn't ignore the opportunities for such a service, and the benefits it would bring to its members," Mr Matheson said.

Lunch Works was designed to help single people find friends and companions through both online and offline means.

Once a 'relationship' has been established through the online service, members then use the venue guide and select a place to rendezvous.

While a large number of sites operate their services under the premise of offering contacts and potential encounters, Lunch Works has positioned itself to compete against less risqué industry players such as RSVP, Oasis Active, Lavalife and AussieMatchMaker.

"While many online dating sites continue to provide their services around the premise of offering sexual contacts, Lunch Works is committed to giving people a fresh and innovative way of meeting others, by offering a dating environment and venue guide that is much friendlier, less threatening and both socially and emotionally more beneficial than the mainstream dating site," Mr Matheson said.

"As part of the personal services industry, the market is saturated with numerous other websites offering a database of people for its members to access and communicate with.

"While new entrants continue to make their way into the industry every day, now more than ever it is about aiming your service at a niche market by offering something that is unique and different, which is why Lunch Works doesn't have a single competitor that offers exactly the same service to its users and members."

However, Mr Matheson said making inroads to position his company within a congested market was time-consuming and expensive.

"The major issue I have faced is most definitely the overrun in time taken to build the business and complete the website," he said.

"Because Lunch Works is unique, it has taken longer to construct as there are no guidelines or blueprints to go by.

"And it seems the longer the list of unknowns you have when setting up a business, the harder it becomes to stick to timeframes regarding project completion dates; and keeping within budget has been extremely difficult as new and unexpected costs have continually surfaced.

"I had to modify all of the financials and plans for the business as I wasn't going to be in a position to make a sale until much later than originally forecast."

Mr Matheson brought two investors on board, who have now become shareholders of the company, and has secured other additional funding from a financial institution.

 

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