Like millions of people, Vicky Cheng felt online dating felt saturated. So she took matters into her own hands and built an app that helps like-minded people connect through exclusive events and experiences.
Here Vicky sits down with Reporter & Producer Lea Jakobiak (CNBC, Sky News Business & Reuters), to share her journey so far.
Lea Jakobiak: Tell us about Let’s Day Out and how it works
Vicky Cheng: Let’s Day Out offers young professionals a fresh and exciting way to connect; we match like-minded people and encourage them to attend our broad range of events — which serves as the ultimate, fun icebreaker.
We launched a few months ago but already have over 10,000 users, and several hundreds of matches. Nothing makes me happier than finding out that our app has helped match two people!
L: You’ve just turned Let’s Day Out into Let’s Day IN, amid the Coronavirus pandemic, tell us about that
V: Yes! Whilst the matchmaking aspect of our app is online, our events are usually “offline” (i.e., in real life), be it cooking or fitness classes, immersive parties or theatrical experiences. So once we realised self-isolation and lockdown was here to stay for the next few months, we quickly adapted all our events and made them virtual, meaning that all our users can now take part from the comfort of their homes.
My team worked non-stop to fill our app with fantastic online events — whether it’s live comedy, mindfulness conversations or lunch parties — to ensure our users stay informed, entertained and connected during this unprecedented global crisis. I’m really proud of how reactive we have been.
Ultimately, mental health is really important to me and I want to help people feel less lonely during this tough phase.
L: Why did you decide to launch your own dating app?
I have lived in several countries throughout my life. I came to study here in London when I was 17. I do have a lot of friends internationally, but after my completing my Masters degree I felt that a lot of my friends moved back home to Asia. So I understand first hand the feeling of wanting to meet like-minded people, and having the need for an app that tells me about the best, local, exclusive events.
I launched Let’s Day Out because I felt that there was a gap in the market for an app that connects people in a way that feels natural, and simply based on mutual interest.
L: Has it always been your ambition to launch your own business?
V: Yes. I have had an entrepreneurial ambition ever since I was in high-school. I have always been pro-active, thinking outside of the box. I really enjoy creating something from 0 to 100 — that’s just what I’m like. I do feel a lot different to my peers in that regard, as a lot of people I know are opting for the “safer” jobs.
L: Most dating app CEOs are men. What do you think your strength is coming at matchmaking from a woman’s point of view?
V: Not only am I a female entrepreneur, I’m also not white and under 30, so I don’t fit the “stereotypical” CEO profile of white male.
Because of my appearance, people have often assumed that I work as part of the team. They find it so surprising that I am the actual founder & owner of the business. I feel like people should be more open minded about what an entrepreneur should or shouldn’t look like, and I’m happy to break the mould.
We are still not seeing enough women, and in particular young women, launching their own start-ups. So, at times, my journey can feel lonely. I’d love to have a strong network of female entrepreneurs around me. Hopefully this will happen through our growing Let’s Day Out community!
L: Your app is available primarily in London, why did you choose to launch here?
V: I love London’s diversity; that’s the absolute best factor. There are so many people from other countries, such a broad range of nationalities, that you always feel like you belong here, no matter who you are or where you’re from.
That said, the pace of life is so fast here, so even though there are millions of people here, it can be hard to make long-lasting connections.
In fact, Let’s Day Out recently ran a survey that showed that 39% of women and 34% of men aged between 18-24 find it “difficult” to meet new people in London. And when it comes to meeting like-minded people it’s even more challenging; 42% of women and 38% of men who currently live in London are struggling with this.
Let’s Day Out offers a great solution for people who don’t have a lot of spare time on their hands.
L: How is the Let’s Day Technology an enabler for matchmaking?
V: I don’t have a tech background myself, so I have surrounded myself with an excellent team of developers. We have daily meetings about A.I., the architecture of the app, user interface designs, new features and so forth. I come to them with my product vision, and we work together in order to achieve that.
What’s really cool is that we have developed our own artificial intelligence algorithm to match users that like and search for the same activities. The method takes into account ‘crowd knowledge,’ and can be compared to how Netflix recommends new movies.
Thanks to our algorithm, the Let’s Day Out app quickly understands what you are looking for in a new connection. And that makes the whole process so much smoother!
L: How has the app — and your brand — been received so far?
V: It’s so exciting to see our app grow. In just a few months we’ve acquired over 10,000 users, which is fantastic baring in mind we are only available in London and launched so recently.
We’ve had fantastic press; we’ve been featured in publications like Glamour & Metro.
I’m also proud of all our exclusive partnerships. Our brand was one of the partners of the BRITS 40th Show, and we have participated in a series of exclusive “immersive” Secret Brunch experiences by luxury events firm A Brands. We regularly pair with Blacks Members Club in London to produce black-tie ‘Supper Club” dinners.
For our Let’s Day In online events, we are doing collaborations with influencers such as Chef Niall Kirkland, Make-Up Artist Georgia Rose, Soul-Healing Psychotherapist Sophie Nevill and Personal Trainer Dan Lagimodiere.
L: Is Let’s Day Out involved with any charities?
V: Yes and this is an aspect I am really passionate about. For all Let’s Day In events, our users have the option to donate £1 to the World Health Organisation to help them find a cure for COVID-19 with their COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Let’s Day Out will be the main partner of “Jog On Cancer,” a celebrity fundraiser for Cancer Research UK — which was due to take place in April but has unsurprisingly been postponed due to COVID-19.
Even before setting up my own business I have always been heavily involved with charities; I went to Ghana to volunteer for a HIV project a few years ago, and I also led the One Campaign for the Chinese Society at LSE. We hosted a charity gala to raise funds for the Chi Heng Foundation, a HIV charity based in Hong Kong.
L: What is your top tip for aspiring Entrepreneurs?
V: You really need to ask yourself why you are interested in solving this particular problem. Being profitable is great, but you need to be genuinely passionate about what you do.
L: Finally, tell us a fun fact about you.
V: When I was in Ghana, I held the tail of an actual live crocodile! I guess I am, and always will be, a proud risk taker.