THE BUSI­NESS OF LOVE

FIND A NICHE AND OWN IT – JUST ASK THE GUYS BE­HIND BEAU BRUMMELL.

GQ (Australia) - - GQ INC. -

There’s of­ten an as­sump­tion that niche busi­nesses are too small to war­rant any heady in­vest­ment. But a smaller in­dus­try can of­ten mean less com­pe­ti­tion – which in turn can prompt a more im­me­di­ate cut-through. It’s key to the dra­matic suc­cess of Beau Brummell – Aus­tralia’s first ded­i­cated gay dat­ing agency. The idea for the con­cept first flirted with founder Vinko An­thony (right), a 45-year-old per­sonal as­sis­tant to Lucy Turn­bull (yes, the PM’S wife) and man­ager of the Turn­bull & Part­ners of­fice, over din­ner in 2011. Speak­ing across the ta­ble to a friend, who op­er­ated an in­tro­duc­tion ser­vice for het­ero­sex­u­als, An­thony was im­me­di­ately smit­ten by the fu­ture for such a prospect, es­pe­cially as there was no sim­i­lar op­er­a­tion in Aus­tralia. Two months later, with three maxed credit cards, An­thony and his part­ner (busi­ness and per­sonal), An­drea Zaza, 38, opened the doors to gay men seek­ing love. Start­ing with just 16 cus­tomers, Beau Brummell cur­rently has more than 900 across Syd­ney, Mel­bourne and Bris­bane, with clients pay­ing well into four fig­ures for mem­ber­ship that ends on en­ter­ing a re­la­tion­ship of 12 months. “To mix fi­nance and emo­tions is so com­plex,” of­fers An­thony. “In the be­gin­ning, I re­searched other agen­cies – both straight and gay-fo­cused – in Hong Kong, Lon­don and San Fran­cisco to work out our style of mem­ber­ships. In the first week, we had to scrap the model of tiered mem­ber­ships that we’d ini­tially se­lected. We had to work with ev­ery­one the same way.” A will­ing­ness to adapt has been cru­cial to the busi­ness’s suc­cess, but at its core is the un­wa­ver­ing be­lief in the value of the ser­vice Beau Brummell pro­vides. “It’s be­cause we’re de­ter­mined,” says An­thony. “We started when apps such as Grindr and Tin­der were tak­ing off, and we could have gone down that route, and had thou­sands of clients, but it’s not the con­cept we be­lieve in. For us, it’s about spend­ing time with prospec­tive clients. We need to know whether they’re the right fit with us and es­tab­lished clients be­fore we take them on.” An­thony and Zaza’s method for shar­ing their con­cept has also re­mained con­stant, choos­ing tra­di­tional main­stream me­dia out­lets rather than fo­cus­ing on gay press – part of that ini­tial credit card debt in­curred by tak­ing out full-page ads in na­tional mast­heads such as Qan­tas mag­a­zine. “It’s im­por­tant be­cause it shows the way that we view our own re­la­tion­ship, and the re­la­tion­ships of our clients – we have noth­ing to be ashamed of and noth­ing to hide. All re­la­tion­ships are the same,” states Zaza. The ma­jor­ity of Beau Brummell’s clients are aged be­tween 33 and 48, with all new mem­bers hav­ing to ‘date’ An­thony and Zaza at a se­ries of dinners and meet­ings be­fore be­ing matched with po­ten­tial part­ners. “We’ve had busi­nesses ap­proach us about fran­chise op­por­tu­ni­ties, but they can’t be­lieve the level of con­tact we main­tain with our clients,” says An­thony. “Some­times I wish we had some real com­pe­ti­tion in the mar­ket so that peo­ple could com­pare what we of­fer with some­one else. I’m con­fi­dent of our high level of ser­vice.” High client-fac­ing con­tact is some­thing the pair’s keen to main­tain, even as they push into the Perth mar­ket, with an aim to grow their client base to more than 2000 in the next two years. “We’ve cal­cu­lated that we have a 79 per cent suc­cess rate [in match­ing peo­ple],” says An­thony. “More im­por­tantly, of the cou­ples we have matched, I can only think of a hand­ful that haven’t worked out.” “And they came back,” adds Zaza. beaubrum­mellintro­duc­tions.com

“TO MIX FI­NANCE AND EMO­TIONS IS SO COM­PLEX... WE COULD HAVE HAD THOU­SANDS OF CLIENTS, BUT IT’S NOT THE CON­CEPT WE BE­LIEVE IN.”

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