Go on a date with a difference
Entrepreneur Matt Connolly has a lot to thank his mum for – not only did she help raise him and his two siblings single-handedly but she also gave him the innovative idea for his new dating website.
Matt, whose parents divorced when he was eight, launched mylovelyparent.com yesterday which is an online dating site for single mums and dads.
The idea is for grown-up children to sign up their parents, by writing an honest, heartfelt profile, in the hope they will finally meet the man or woman of their dreams.
A year ago Matt, 35, who set up his own web design company, decided he wanted to branch out into online dating.
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"I was really struggling with the concept of online dating because of the commercial world behind it," he says.
"I wanted people to benefit from it and have value from it so I could hold my head up high that it had integrity.
"Just after Christmas I was sitting round the family table with my mum and she said 'I tell you what, help me find my knight in shining armour'."
The result is mylovelyparent.com – an online dating site where grown-up children encourage their babyboomer parents to meet new people by writing a little bit about them and viewing potential matches who they can recommend to their parents.
An email is then sent to the mum or dad inviting them to the site which they can accept or decline.
Thousands of people have already signed up from countries such as Britain, America, Australia and South Africa.
Matt says: "It's been really exciting. "Over the past six months so many people have signed up for an invitation to the new site.
"The UK was really where I was focusing my attention with potentially taking it overseas, but the Huffington Post picked it up from a blog I was writing and broke what I was up to and suddenly I had thousands of people from the US.
"We were then invited to speak on breakfast television in Australia and now the UK media has picked it up too.
"There are seven English-speaking countries going live with it so we'll see how we get on."
Matt, who grew up in Bolton, spent time living in the Midlands, Lincolnshire, London and the States before finally settling in the West Country.
He headhunted his business partner Matt Bridges who used to be the technical director of another dating website My Single Friend. The website for My Lovely Parent has been created at his home in Ashmore Road, Gloucester.
It is aimed primarily at people aged over 50, although the lower age limit is 40.
"There are other competitors out there but none like this," says Matt, who is single himself.
"Those sites are more commercial and the user experience is pretty poor. I've signed up to lots of them and it's quite an unenjoyable experience. We wanted to do something better.
"I don't think my mum ever thought I'd take her so literally but she really does love it," he says.
"She is my inspiration. I will be putting her on the site myself but it's up to her whether she chooses to pick up that invite and go on that whole journey."