Thomas Edwards is a Professional Wingman and “serial lovepreneur.” While researching our recent list of Boston area startups you need to know about, I discovered the man known as Boston’s Hitch.
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After a trip to SXSW in March 2009, a friend of Edwards asked him to be his wingman, and in return for his services he paid for his drinks. The experience sparked a value proposition in Edwards and he jumpstarted his business online.
Three months later, at the age of 23, he was able to quit his job as a hotel manager. The self-described “old soul” doesn’t try to be a dating expert so much as he aims to provide an outside perspective. The now 25-year old has over 150 clients, ages 20-50, 80% of which are men and 55% of them are currently or have been in a relationship as a result of Edwards’ skills.
“I’m trying to help men and women to have more faith in the dating process. When clients come to me they want to understand dating and communication more. I don’t have any crazy complex methods or strategies, I just help people get unstuck, find a new passion, maybe move to a new city.” The Professional Wingman
Edwards’ wingman services, which entail going out on the town with a client run $125 per hour. He also offers in-person coaching for $85 an hour; unlimited e-mail coaching for 35-45$ per month and phone coaching for $45 to $55 an hour. Rates vary by city and he operates in both Boston and New York. Edwards measures his success based on the client’s initial goals and overall end satisfaction. He’s so far boasting a 97% satisfaction rate. Don’t feel like dishing out the dough? Peruse his 72 free podcasts in the iTunes store.
Edwards relies heavily on social media and online marketing to keep his business relative. Over 3,000 people follow Edwards on Twitter, his favorite marketing tool. To create leads and buzz, he hosted “Free Advice Friday” on Twitter. But the load soon became too immense so he has since stopped and is thinking of news ways to manage a similar strategy. He hosts “open office hours” in the form of UStream events and is looking into forming Meetup events.
Edwards has hundreds of fans who follow updates like academic studies on dating to fashion advice on his Facebook wall. “Facebook has the greatest ability to virally expand any content that I produce, which is awesome,” says Edwards, who plans to have his team of interns this semester work on a viral Facebook-based promotion. He also uses it to post a question of the day such as “When you give/receive a phone number, how long should you wait to follow up?”
Edwards produces video shows on Blip.TV and also has set up a YouTube channel. A big fan of Foursquare, Edwards says, “Foursquare is really cool. I give tips on good places to meet people. I branded myself as a professional Wingman so people could follow me and if I’m at a certain spot, chances are it’s a good place.” You can also ask Edwards questions on Formspring and he’s looking into the vYou platform next.
CBM: What is your favorite dating app?
TE: For the web, it’s Assisted Serendipity, which is a free service that pulls in Foursquare check-ins and notifies you via e-mail a soon as the male/female ratio turns in your favor at your favorite local hangouts.
And for mobile, it’s UrbanDaddy‘s iPhone app, which uses GPS to let users find the perfect nearby spot to go for food, drink or a little late night debauchery. Members are offered a selection of exclusive hook-ups, offers and opportunities at new bars and restaurants in several cities including New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta. Think of it as a digital concierge in your pocket.
CBM: And your favorite dating website?
TE: HowAboutWe, which started in Boston. I find it very ironic that Match.com copied them by making their own internal HowAboutWe. It’s a great online dating site because it forces you to look around.
CBM: And what are your Valentine’s Day plans?
TE: My girlfriend Laurie Davis also happens to be an online dating coach (the eFlirt expert) and we actually happened to meet on Twitter. We will likely start the night off at our apartment with a bottle of champagne, go out to trendy, fun restaurant, then walk home playing games like 20 questions followed by a candlelit slow dance party to one of my slow jam mixes. We love doing this. It looks like a scene from your senior prom.
Next up for Edwards? He and Davis have a reality TV show in the works. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with the eFlirt expert, and Happy almost Valentine’s Day!