Homegrown Business: Andrea Lo, Founder of Toronto Dating Hub

Toronto Dating Hub offers unique and fresh monthly events for singles to meet, mingle and have fun. Some of their events include game nights, puppy yoga, a Singles Mixer and Canada’s Wonderland and a Watersports singles event. Additionally, they also offer a variety of services including (but not limited to) dating coaching, makeovers, photoshoots, mock dates and so on. We spoke with the founder of Toronto Dating Hub, Andrea Lo, to learn more about them.

Toronto Dating Hub

What is your business called and what does it do?

Toronto Dating Hub has been transforming the way Toronto singles meet & connect through events & coaching since May 2020 (the pandemic)! We are a premier resource for singles offering unique monthly events, as well as comprehensive services including dating coaching, dating profile makeovers, photoshoots, and mock dates.

We also host monthly events for like-minded singles to connect – so they can either make new friends or meet that potential romantic partner. We love supporting and partnering with local businesses & entrepreneurs to curate our events and offer a variety of activities from games, fitness, dance, and watersports to culinary experiences. Many singles either feel pressure or nervous at these events, so we developed an event format that helps attendees relax, have fun, and engage in meaningful conversation.

Toronto Dating Hub is one of few female and BIPOC-owned dating event companies in Toronto. I especially like to support and highlight fellow female entrepreneurs and business owners by partnering with them for events/webinars and hosting interview spotlights to feature their work & story. I also make an extra effort in creating a safe environment for single women to feel confident and comfortable in attending my events and truly be able to enjoy the full experience.

What made you want to do this work?

I had this idea about 5 years ago to do elite events for singles but had some self-doubts and was “too busy”. In 2020, it was one of the darkest times-the pandemics hit us, my bf at the time broke up with me, I got laid off, and my family was strict about the lockdown and their bubble – I never felt so alone. I thought – omg what do other isolated singles feel like – especially ones without as big of a network as I do? It was “now or never” – I decided to start Toronto Dating Hub to use my 10+ years of marketing and event planning experience to serve this singles community.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

Even before the pandemic, singles found it challenging to find potential suitors in real life or on dating apps, and matchmaking was expensive. The dating industry continues to have a bad reputation and the majority of singles do not feel positive or optimistic -especially for women – to feel safe about these options. Then COVID-19 happened and singles were more isolated and alone than ever – and I was one of these sad individuals. But instead of just complaining – I did something about it. I set out to start Toronto Dating Hub to change the game – transform the way singles meet & connect. Being single on & off for over a decade and having tried all the apps and various singles events, I had a good idea of what was missing in this market.

Toronto Dating Hub events are super fun and low-pressure for attendees. I encourage singles to just come out to have fun and make new friends – bonus if you find people to date. In the first year of the pandemic, we were on lockdown and singles were screwed and the other virtual dating options sucked or were unorganized. So I made my virtual happy hour events feel like house parties and featured fun icebreakers and activities that got people talking and engaging over interesting topics in the breakout rooms. I even incorporated activities like fitness, yoga, and dance classes into these virtual events to keep things interesting, all while supporting local businesses that were struggling during the pandemic.

Once we were able to host in-person events again, I continued to make my events unique by partnering with local businesses that offered cool activities like jet skis, treetop trekking, e-scooters, and picnics – instead of the typical speed dating bar events that singles expected and were tired of. In fact, I’m the first to introduce jet ski and also e-scooter speed dating in Canada (I believe in the world for jet skis)! With my event planning experience, natural curiosity to try new things, and ability to network and make key partnerships, I am confident I’ll be able to continue creating unique singles events and redefining this industry.

Creating a fun, relaxed framework and the opportunity to meet other singles is one part of the equation. I know from my own experience that sometimes we all need some extra support to engage with others. I truly understand the pains and challenges that singles face and strive to help as many singles as possible through my services. I am not a typical dating coach who flaunts about being married and having found love and therefore best equipped to help. I have been on 1,000 dates and tried all the methods and apps and truly understand both the male and female sides of being single and dating. I have developed helpful advice and solutions to help singles, such as discussing dating topics at my events and educational webinars – like who pays for the first date, is it okay to talk about sex on your first date, gender roles, etc. – to revamping dating profiles, setting up mock dates, and coaching singles about texting etiquette.

By helping singles through my coaching sessions or events, I hope to connect people not only with each other but also with themselves on a deeper level, creating more positive vibes for dating and successful relationships!

Who are your clientele/demographics?

Greater Toronto Area (GTA)/ Toronto singles (typically ages 25-45)

Toronto Dating Hub

How does your business make money? How does it work?

Ticket costs/fees for events (it varies depending on the activity/venue); coaching fees for our services (hourly rate or per session for photography)

Where in Toronto can we find your profession?

Online is the easiest way to find us and our events. But since we can do virtual sessions- we can help anyone in Canada really (we’ve had clients in Ottawa)

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

For coaching – ask them about their dating experience and their success rate for the dating challenge(s) that you’re hoping to get help with. Much like finding a therapist or coach, you also need to like and have a good connection with your dating coach – how do they make you feel? Do you feel like you trust him/her? I included this above: I truly understand the pains and challenges that singles face and strive to help as many singles as possible through my services. I am not a typical dating coach who flaunts about being married and having found love and therefore best equipped to help. I have been on 1,000 dates and tried all the methods and apps and truly understand both the male and female sides of being single and dating. Some coaches are out of touch with the apps and what’s out there because they haven’t been single for a while. I’m constantly also around/talking to singles and what’s happening in the industry / other dating coaches to stay in the know and up to date.

I’ve had clients gain confidence for dating, finally figure out what they were doing wrong, or double their matches on apps after we redid their photos/bio.

For singles events – ask how they keep the balanced gender ratio or what makes their events different. I personally organize and emcee all my events and I have extensive event planning experience. We closely monitor ticket sales and the ratio; we stop selling male tickets to help with the ratio.

How else are we different?

We are female-founded and it is one of our passionate initiatives to help other women. In a survey, we conducted of 100 women (in the early stages of building this business), 90% of respondents did not feel confident or safe to attend events. We take extra steps to develop events that women feel confident and safe to come experience and meet others – from ticket pricing (discounted or bring a friend promo), detailed info on event pages, types of icebreakers and activities, check-ins during the event, matching forms (to avoid the awkward phone number request), post-event feedback form, etc.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

Best – connecting people and changing their perception about Toronto dating- seeing them have a good time, making new friends, and dating (again /finally).

Worst – When people don’t understand how much time and effort goes into planning these events and some people will complain about something no matter what you do

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

Can’t think of jokes at the moment – but it’s just funny sometimes what people expect or say about the dating industry – not every dating service is “terrible” or “they don’t work” …all of the time, what’s wrong with the dating scene is more to do with inner work that needs to happen with individuals (to do with their insecurities, dating patterns and attachment styles). Keep an open mind – you have to go in with a positive mindset!

What are your social media channels?

Website | Instagram | Facebook

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?

LOVE this. Yoga Kawa – Echo – she’s a dear friend and we’ve partnered for so many events – like puppy yoga