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Bill Dobbie’s Cupid diversifies from dating into property

Bill Dobbie

Bill Dobbie

  • by PETER RANSCOMBE
 

CUPID, the internet dating firm launched by serial technology entrepreneur Bill Dobbie, is diversifying from its “Be Naughty” and “Flirt” brands by moving into the property market.

The Edinburgh-based group’s new website, Roomwise, allows customers to rent out rooms, whole flats or even caravans and tents.

Cupid will use its database of more than 62 million users to market the properties as part of its plans to use its IT infrastructure to move into new business areas.

Dobbie said: “We think it’s a big opportunity for people in the UK to benefit from our marketing expertise.

“This kind of network will bring tremendous value to 
local communities and travellers throughout the world.”

Cupid said that it had spent less than £100,000 developing Roomwise, which it described as being “a very early-stage project in beta testing”.

But the firm said that it had decided property was a “good fit” with its existing marketing and technical skills after looking at “a number of emerging social web areas”.

Brian Gruber, who came up with the idea for the website and who is acting as its general manager for Cupid, said: “The project grew out of my own travel experiences.”

Gruber explained that, whenever he travelled, he could only choose well-publicised options, such as hotels. But then he would meet people staying in much nicer accommodation they had found through “a friend of a friend”.

“I want to get all those ‘through a friend’ properties on Roomwise, no matter how big or small,” Gruber added.

News of Cupid’s expansion into the property sector comes just weeks after the company extended its online dating presence through the takeover of specialist website Uniform Dating for £7 million.

The Aim-quoted group raised a further £3.6m through a share placing to finance September’s deal, which followed hot on the heels of its €3.7m (£2.9m) acquisition of French online dating company Assistance Genie Logiciel in July.

 

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