February, the time to celebrate love is here! Are you feeling enthusiastic about finding a world-wide web of potential others? Seek no further, our floor at the Garage is home to Kenya’s leading dating site startups. Meet Ian Isherwood, a young successful entrepreneur making it big in the dating hub.
DateME Kenya, a member only match making site, is a revolutionary idea in the silicon savannah that provides Kenyans a mature platform to meet other professionals looking to develop serious relationships. Ian’s website addresses the need of creating an elites club of non-traditional couples in Kenya meeting, collaborating and interacting on a virtual platform to develop and mature from simple romantic intimacies to potential sincere commitments.
Ian ambitioned to create a specialized website to outreach and integrate a new niche of Kenyan couples who are in search of finding a quality date beyond the idea of sugar mommies and daddies. His ideals on perfect dating draw out from three basics of love, happiness and self-knowledge.
I was set to meet Ian out at the Wine Shop, at our Ngong road campus. While Ubering my way across the city, the constant thought of meeting up with Kenya’s dating prince for a raw lunch date was not to my appetite.
Seriously, not to kid it was like meeting the prom king or some Greek God of Kenyan dating celebrities. Well, go ahead do it! Google some photos and you will find the “Mogul in the Making.’’
Did you? Yes, exactly, my sentiments alike, I gave you a warning already. The founder of DateMe Kenya isn’t any less of a date himself.
The fairytale starts at the photogenic physique, ocean blue eyes, gorgeous golden hair, a dreamy smile and a beautiful personality. Lost in the moment of prince charming, let me not continue, you get the picture. It’s way better than Photoshop, he is in his organic sense the ‘date me’ material. An empowering ambassador of his own brand. Whoever thought Kenya could have their very own Double O Seven in a shining African armor ready to find Nairobians their perfect Romeo or Juliets, “It’s a rewarding way of helping people meet, fall in love and create their own happily-ever-after. That’s the biggest and most rewarding part of my job, when we hear of the success stories,” Ian added.
Born and brought up in Kenya, Ian is an amalgam of both British modernity and traditional African roots. He was raised in the coastal city of Mombasa, by his Scottish mother and Kenyan father, thus proudly holding dual nationality. After his father passed away in an unfortunate accident, when he was only 2 years old. His mother was left with the singular responsibility to raise a family of four boys, which isn’t an easy task however her resilience has taught him how to lead with compassion and empathy.
Ian believes in the idea of building relationships that last for an ever, he is the man of fairytales yet balances out his enthusiasm with a just sense of practicality in current time. I guess, he resonates this determination and ethos with his mother, who he states faced vigorous challenges with pride, “My mum did an amazing job raising us as a single parent and showed me the true meaning of sacrifice. Death is an extremely cruel part of life. Watching my mum raise four boys taught me a lot about the hardships in life and the constant need to keep moving forward and never giving up. We were not a rich family, in fact I remember my shoes at school had holes in them and we used to place cardboard inside the shoe. In no way has anything in my life ever been given to me. I’ve had to earn it. My mum did an incredible job raising us all and giving us a childhood we could only dream for our children, even with all the hardships of single parenthood,” Ian explains.
Even though Ian is a founder of a company he still maintains a humble temperament. He supports the idea of simple beginnings and success through baby steps. When he initially launched DateME Kenya he wasn’t afraid of taking individual candidates on coffee dates, even though it may have cost him a small fortune he invested himself in finding the potential for human value and quality in his service. It took him time to building those relationships, which I agree is not a one-day event. When I asked him where he sees himself grow in five years from now, he gave me a pragmatic response dignifying the truth, “Not too fast realistically. We don’t want to grow too fast. Continuous growth is good but we want to focus on improving on quality, building more relationships and weddings in the next ten years. Long-term and sustainable growth. We want to be East Africa’s largest, making the world a smaller space and providing more options, yet sustainably.” Such intricacy to detail requires a lot of patience, tolerance and maintenance. A sustainable system incrementally developed through time with unconditional diligence… now that is love!
Ian is an inspiration to us all and himself for being a resilient model of exemplifying the notion that loving oneself is essential to loving another. You cannot serve from an empty plate, and therefore he advocates for us to understand ourselves first. Love thyself before thee love thy other.
The idea of self-knowledge and observation of oneself is crucial to identify what one wants to love. At the end of the day we are all searching for union, union to something; our profession, our passion, our dreams or union to someone, our family, our homes, our heart. To love and to be loved. Happiness is personalized in one fashion and impersonalized when we extend through a medium of our personalization. Ian encourages all to experiment and discover themselves by developing intimate relationships.
The first thing we think of when we see someone is would they date me? Our self-query never stops, but Ian addresses that issue with his confident self, advocating on a journey of self-discovery. He celebrates the importance of understanding love by initiating a process of ‘dating ourselves’. Begin within oneself, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance,” as Oscar Wilde once put it, these words still stand strong and should in our millennial age.
How can we find perfection in someone else when we cannot see ourselves in the eye of the same perfection? Having unreal expectations can lead to disappointments which turn to problems. In his experience within the dating environment in Kenya there has been this consistency namely ‘the problem agenda‘, “Problems. Everyone has a problem,” he smiled and exerted. “This is where DateME Kenya is creating value through a solution of self-value. It is creating a priceless social impact recreating the scene for dating comparative to traditional arranged marriage. Life is about you and not about what other people constantly want. You are in control of your own happiness. Date yourself, get to know yourself, know what you like and don’t like, know what you are looking for and do not sell yourself short. But, be honest and don’t lie… Don’t pretend. Know what makes you happy.”
It was for this reason that Ian left university to travel the world. He gambled his life at age 21 to experience the love of life. His ambition brought him to many successes including selling his first start-up for millions, “I took a risk. I am indeed a huge gambler. I was inspired by Japanese vending machines and decided to take that idea and put it into action. I made good money selling women’s used underwear. It was to my surprise that it did, and it was a market I successfully tapped” he confirmed.
“Change your expectations for appreciation and your life changes in an instant” he acknowledged while enjoying the last bites of his salad.
On the last note of this conversational lunch interview, I thought of boldly inquiring his definition of love, and his response was, “Love is happiness. The sense of waking up in the morning next to someone thinking everything is going well. Security, the sense of feeling at home.” I thought to myself what a great way to sum it up!
For a man of his stature with a great empire of love, dating revolutions and success at his feet it has been difficult for me to believe that he is the same man who cries at weddings of the engagements he started. But now I am convinced Ian knows how to make the most of simple things, as he said, “it’s the small things that count.” A man who takes his brothers as idols, celebrates women as empowering symbols of hard work and enjoys a simple date with his partner on a secret island away from the crowd, basking in the vast openness of nature and with it not forgetting some good music. Ian is to me the man of our dreams, his determination to live life and celebrate love make him a pioneer in the enterprise of creating dreams for us all.