That DatingDirect.com was launched close to Valentine’s Day is no surprise. Founded in 1999, the company runs an online dating agency for single people between the ages of 25 and 45 and claims to have 1.5m active members who pay from £4.95 for a three-day subscription up to £85 for a year. Darren Richards, founder and chief executive, says he started the business with a simple web-design kit from Dixons, and picked up hundreds of hits without advertising. The Birmingham company now runs singles events across Britain and supplies dating services to sites such as ITV.com, GMTV.com and Channel4.com. Sales have grown 142% a year from £911,000 in 2001 to £5.3m in 2003.
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