Meet Foura: The new matchmaking service helping people find mates; not dates

Foura is a matchmaking service to help people find mates; not dates. Founder Tam Al-Saad came up with the concept to match people up based on their hobbies, interests, values, and personality. Then, they are gathered together, four at a time, to meet in person.

There’s no swiping, no endless messaging back and forth – they just go from sign up to meet up. 

Tam says he first had the idea seven years ago when he moved to Sydney and only knew a handful of people.  

“At the time I needed a job and a visa so I parked the idea. But I started a monthly social club that meets on the third Thursday of every month to check out a new pub and meet new people. I ran it for four years in London before running it for the last six years here in Sydney. It’s been my passion for 10 years and Foura comes from that same passion of bringing people together,” Tam says.

At the heart of Foura is the reality that it’s really difficult to make friends as an adult. 

“I think the biggest issue is that it’s awkward to go up to someone and say “I would like to be your friend”. It’s also really awkward to hear. So people don’t do it. That’s why we bring people together four at a time, so it’s more like friends meeting up for a beer rather than looking for something more.”

“While there are options like joining a sports team or club, those options put meeting people as the secondary objective and an activity as the main objective. I wanted to build something that has friend-finding as its sole purpose.”

 Prior to Foura, Tam was working in a startup as the fourth employee while he was still at university.

“I stayed there for eight years so I wore a lot of different hats. But the biggest responsibility was marketing; so when I ended up leaving that job and moved to Australia I looked for other marketing roles. I did a couple of short stints at other startups (including a few weeks at one in Fishburners in Ultimo) before joining Webprofits, a Digital Growth Consultancy, as their Head of Growth for five years,” Tam says.

“At Webprofits it was my role to promote the agency itself, which usually took the form of content. We made a name for ourselves by doing reviews of successful startup marketing strategies (Airbnb, Xero, Canva, etc) but I also recorded videos and delivered webinars with partners like Mumbrella and B&T.”

There were a few obstacles for Tam in the early stages of Foura.  

“The logistics of finding time in the calendar for four strangers is pretty tricky, particularly when the only mode of communication you have is email (to start with),” Tam explains.

“But the biggest issue was Sydney going back into lockdown only six weeks after we started hosting face to face meetups. In theory, we could have pivoted to virtual meetups instead. But I believe all relationships are built better in person, so we paused our main service for three months and focussed on building out other parts of the business.”

Tam realised he didn’t want to translate Foura into virtual meetups, and knew he had to do something to build their profile in lockdown.

“So I hosted virtual trivia nights. People signed up and registered the suburb they live in and then were matched up with other people (who they’ve never met) in their local area to make a team,” Tam says.

“We hosted five events and two of them had approximately 500 players in each, but the biggest success is that many of the people who met at those events went on to become friends and hang out when the restrictions started easing. “

Foura only launched in April and then had to go into lockdown, so Tam says the business is only just starting to grow.

“But we’ve had more than 1200 members sign up now and we are growing fast. I’m building a tech platform that will help me to match pods much faster which should make it a lot easier to scale; but I’m on the lookout for tech people to come on board so give a shout if you want to join the team.”

“In terms of the service, we’re looking at hosting larger events as well as partnering with experience providers so our pods can meet over an activity as well as over a drink. Then it’s a case of expanding to Melbourne (and potentially Brisbane) before expanding internationally.”

Tam says it’s been a great motivator being part of the Fishburners community: “ It’s been great to be in the building with so many innovative and interesting people. The pitch nights I’ve attended helped me hone my own pitch and I’ve been to a couple of lunch and learns that have given me some valuable information heading into the next few years.”

Tam’s advice for other startups?

“Know your audience and why your service matters to them and then promote it to them in their words. It also pays to map our your customer journey early on and focus on the bottom of the funnel to start with so that your efforts in filling the funnel at the top pay off.

Tam has also been documenting his journey as a startup founder in the form of a daily video on Linkedin. 

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