First, there is the honeymoon period, then comes the seven-year itch. A marriage may be a sacred covenant, but the bond is easily broken if either party becomes a dead weight. Both parties need to put in the effort to keep marriage fulfilling, and the romance alive.

But in the modern era, there are many distractions. People work longer hours than before. Then, there are kids to look after and other obligations. Mix them all up together and it’s not hard to see why divorce rates are up, especially in modern cities like Singapore.

Meenakshi Sharma, a former architect, struggled with communication problems with her spouse. One former colleague even confided in her about how she and her husband have never gone out without their kid in the last 15 years and how she feels a loss of communication.

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Seeing this pain point, Sharma sought to use her skills as a hotel designer — which, according to her, involves creating spaces to deliver memorable experiences for guests — to build a service that can let couples suffering from the same predicament enjoy fun activities together, without any hassle.

This led to the founding of Datefyx, an e-commerce platform that seeks to curate interesting, and sometimes out-of-the-box, date night ideas for couples. They can book activities right on the platform — not unlike the many activity marketplaces (such as travel activity sites) we see popping up nowadays.

It is quite clear that I am, one, not very good at making Datefyx sound exciting, and two, ignorant about relationships. So I will let Sharma speak for herself.

Here’s the edited transcript of the interview:

First, why shouldn’t I just go to a restaurant listing app or a programmes/events site such as Time Out, or the plethora of events apps such as Eventbrite and the like? Why is Datefyx necessary?

Firstly, the bigger picture of DateFyx is to encourage couples to bond, communicate, engage in enriching experiences together, as a means of strengthening their relationship or if they are married, strengthen the foundation of their family unit.

Restaurant listing apps and event sites are great resources, but are set up to cater to a much wider audience, have mostly sponsored content and isolated things to do, not a complete experience.

For event listing websites, out of the 10 things they would show up, few would be for kids, for families to do together, for singles, and perhaps, only a few for couples. And restaurant listing apps are huge databases with search criteria based on location, cuisine or price point.

What does Datefyx provide then?

Let me highlight the features of DateFyx that make it stand out from the existing apps and websites, when it comes to planning a Date Night:

First, there is the Date Night Guide that goes out weekly to our subscribers, to encourage them to plan their Date Night.

We have event picks of the week, restaurant recommendations, curated itineraries, workshops, planning tips, conversation starters and other activities all packaged and delivered as one newsletter to you in your inbox every Friday afternoon, as you wrap up your work week.

None of this is sponsored content, and, in fact, the recommendations are mostly tried and tested.

Secondly, Out-of-the-Box Date Night are experiences that you could use for yourself or as a gift for another couple.

These include romantic picnic set-ups, private yacht cruises, art jamming, mystery dining and more, all available at one website itself. DateFyx packages the entire experience, by partnering with multiple vendors making it more special and memorable. For example, for the yacht trip, DateFyx also delivers a customised food basket, with a personalised keepsake.

DateFyx packages the entire experience, by partnering with multiple vendors making it more special and memorable. For example, for the yacht trip, DateFyx also delivers a customised food basket, with a personalised keepsake.

Our bespoke Date Night planning service also takes your personal preferences such as favourite cuisine, dietary restrictions, music preferences and budget into consideration and weaves an experience around your preferences.

Which retail/activity/e-commerce/etc partners have signed up to your platform?

Currently, we have about 15 experiences that you could shop for, right off our website. The partners/activity vendors vary in scale from being large event companies and restaurant chains to small home-based businesses.

The experiences include complete picnic set-ups, sunset dinner cruise and private yacht charter for special occasions, to activities like ceramics workshop, perfume-making and art jamming.

Some experiences are exclusive to DateFyx, like dining at a celebrity chef’s house, private acroyoga session and a curated hike with a basket full of food.

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We also have limo pick-up, flower delivery, babysitting and hair and make-up services. There are many more experiences in the pipeline, but it’s a conscious decision to keep the experiences few, yet special, and covering most preferences.

What other platform features do you have in the pipeline?

While DateFyx continues to add more experiences to shop for, the other features in the pipeline are monthly subscriptions with curated itineraries and activities, a reward system for our returning clients and a searchable database that is handy for impromptu DIY Date Nights.

Other than Date Nights, the existing platform and services can be used for occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s day, Christmas, family outings or even wedding proposals. The primary focus will always be couples though.

Are you running Datefyx full time? If yes, are you able to “eat your own dog” given how busy you are?

Running DateFyx full time, Date Nights have become a personal and work commitment now, which is great. My husband and I are more religious than ever about Date Nights. We do spend time exploring where to go to make the best of the small window that we have each week to ourselves.

And I have to say that Singapore has so much to offer that we are never disappointed. Whatever your specific requirement might be: whether you need to catch-up after a busy week, engage in an exciting activity after an otherwise boring week, exploring a new neighbourhood or just need some time with the girls, there are options all around. The challenge has been to look for those things to do.

Do you plan to raise funding? If not, how are you funding your startup?

I do plan to raise funding, but after meeting some milestones of growing the subscriber base, getting the technical prototype with all features in place and gaining enough traction. Until then, DateFyx is bootstrapped and the business model is such that it does not require a huge initial investment.

What are your monetisation models? Are you already generating revenue? If you are, when do you expect to break even?

For bespoke Date Night planning, DateFyx charges a flat fee. For experiences listed on the website, the clients pay the same as they would if they were to purchase the experience from the vendor itself.

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DateFyx charges the vendors/partners a performance fee/commission for every order that comes through DateFyx. The percentage really depends on the nature of the experience. Other than that, there are no charges for featuring businesses on the website.

This model has helped DateFyx to generate revenue from the first order itself and hopes to break even by the end of the year.

How big is your team?

I don’t really have a team, but I do have a good friend helping me with graphics and picnic set-ups. Other than that, I appreciate any advice that comes my way and that has been very helpful in keeping me motivated.

Image Credit: Datefyx

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