“Alexander Flint Mitchell, one of our Outstanding Students in the MSc Business Innovation with Entrepreneurship programme, who developed his business plan during Entrepreneurial Venture Creation Module and already raised OVER 100K CAPITAL for his business and the Pioneer Awards Winner 2020 discusses Life Changing Year of building his AI and conceptual philosophy-driven start-up, Blind Cupid”
When Alexander Flint Mitchell enrolled onto Birkbeck’s MSc Business Innovation last September, it was with a view to changing career direction and developing the business idea that had been on his mind for the last five years.
Handing in his notice just one month later, you could say things had moved a little faster than expected. “Looking back on it, that was probably a bit naïve,” Alexander admits, “but if you want to achieve something big, you’ve sometimes got to take a leap into the unknown.”
The motivation for this leap of faith? A grand idea for an app called Blind Cupid.
Blind Cupid is a matchmaking app with a difference, using never-before-used science and advanced artificial intelligence to match people based on their fundamental premises and values as well as communication style. Unlike all competing products, Blind Cupid also gives users the chance to see bios and compatibility scores before they reveal pictures to potential matches. The rationale is to save the user time, money and effort due to bad dating decisions made solely about someone’s appearance.
“A lot of dating apps claim to be all about personality,” says Alexander, “but it’s really just a slogan. If they even bother to utilise questionnaires, they will ask about polarising issues like politics, which is valid, but simply agreeing on something doesn’t mean that you’re compatible. Take Brexit, for example: people voted either way on both extremes of the political spectrum. Just because they agreed on the way to vote is meaningless.” Alexander continued: “It’s essential to understand the rationale behind every value and stated course of action. Once you can do this, your compatibility scores mean something. If you can’t, I don’t believe that they mean anything.”
“The questionnaire that we use for Blind Cupid focuses on basic principles. I spent years developing it and have worked with some of the best pre-eminent psychologists and philosophers in the world. The greatest feedback we have received so far from users is that they could see the value in the product even from just filling out the questionnaire — before they’d received any matches. When we tested the product, 80% of the test group went on four or more dates with their matches — that’s considerably higher than anything else in the market.”
Was the concept for the app born out of Alexander’s personal experience? “People ask me that a lot,” he says, “but in reality, the idea just came to me in a lightbulb moment, fully formed. I came up with the concept aged 21, while studying Law and working in the City. I found the reality of being a lawyer very boring and would end up spending most of the day daydreaming about this app. I knew that I was going to do it eventually, but I wanted to do it properly.”
In 2019, Alexander applied for the MSc Business Innovation with Entrepreneurship programme. “Studying in the evening meant that I could continue working in the City until the business was up and running,” Alexander explains. “I thought that, worst case scenario, I could find a role in venture capital, but I really wanted to make Blind Cupid a reality and this was the best way to do it.’
“This programme was everything I wanted to learn. One of the early modules, Entrepreneurial Venture Creation, required us to write a business plan. I wrote a business plan for Blind Cupid, and that’s when I decided to quit my job. I also managed to convince my business coach, Stephen, to join Blind Cupid as a Commercial Director. He’s successfully launched ten start-ups previously, so his input is invaluable. The Convener of this module and the Deputy Assistant Dean of the school, Muthu, is an innovation advisor of Blind Cupid.”
As Alexander worked through the masters and the Pioneer programme, his business went from strength to strength. “I’ve made some amazing connections and put together a dedicated and phenomenal team of 15 people throughout the world – we’d meet at 8am and still be working together at 1am, before we were earning any money to do it, which just shows the commitment we all have to the business.”
Alexander’s Pioneer experience culminated in June’s virtual awards ceremony, where he took home the award for Best Business Pitch. “It was a shame not to be able to do the finale in person, but I was really surprised and pleased by how many people came along to the virtual ceremony. When pitching Blind Cupid to investors, it usually takes a full hour to go into all the detail, so drilling it down to three minutes was a real challenge. I’m thrilled to have won the Best Business Pitch award; it feels like all the hard work is paying off.”
Alexander is currently fundraising for Blind Cupid, with the aim of getting the product on the market within the next three months. He has raised over £100,000 thus far in the SEED round and is closing in on completing the round which totals £500,000. Encouragingly, it seems that he’s also hit on an idea that can withstand the current tough economic conditions: “Strangely enough, the dating industry is booming at the moment. Regardless of what’s happening in the economy, people have a natural desire to have someone in their lives romantically, and that doesn’t go away in a recession or a pandemic.”
“The decision to do the master’s was a life-changing, life-affirming decision. It’s crazy to think that the idea that I had when I was 21 is now my full-time job. I have never been happier in my life!”