Entrepreneur encourages daters to embrace imperfection
Waukesha man creates ‘Settleforlove’ website

By Katherine Michalets - Special to The Freeman

Jan.. 14, 2015

WAUKESHA -To be a successful entrepreneur one often has to take large risks and bare one’s soul. That is what David Wheeler did when he created his dating website “Settleforlove,” which encourages people to “embrace imperfection”- as well as when he posted his dating profile that featured a picture of his balding head.

What sets Settleforlove apart from other dating websites is that it encourages singles to include realistic photos and to list pros and cons about themselves and what they are willing to settle for to find love. For Wheeler, the cons include his balding head.  A pro is that he is loyal and trustworthy.

Just as with finding the right match, Wheeler has been actively pursuing success as an entrepreneur. The membership for Settleforlove has been growing 3 percent to 4 percent every day and buzz about the site continues to grow, he said.

 David Wheeler
Photo submitted

Getting noticed

Getting momentum going on Settleforlove was a major obstacle for Wheeler and his business partner, Jacob Thompson, with the first six months after launching the site in late 2013 resulting in little online traffic. A Kickstarter campaign that attempted to raise $45,000 for Settleforlove failed, despite rewards offered for small donations. It did generate some buzz about the website, Wheeler said.

To build on that, Wheeler sent out press releases to local news agencies, which they picked up, and soon national outlets, such as “Good Morning America,” took notice.

As of Tuesday, Settleforlove has 3,250 users, all of which have joined in the past few weeks, Wheeler said.

Another hurdle for Wheeler and Thompson is when people join the site, especially if they are out of state or abroad, there may not be many matches in their area yet.

“People want to join a site and have 100 people around them,” Wheeler said. “I have to believe that every dating site goes through this.”

Financing is another area that Wheeler and Thompson are still figuring out.

Both men have full-time jobs. Wheeler is an IT project manager for GE Healthcare, but his job has provided him some flexibility, such as time to do media interviews. Thompson still lives in St. Charles, Ill., which is where both men are from, although they met at Valparaiso University.

Wheeler said he really wants to reach the 10,000 to 15,000 membership mark, a point where people encourage their friends to join.


By the numbers

Wheeler said numbers can be a bit baffling or unexpected. For instance, he has had 3 million hits on the Settleforlove homepage, but only had 243 likes on Facebook on Monday evening. A video he created explaining and promoting the website also has only a disappointing 6,000 views on YouTube, Wheeler said.

However, he said he has gotten a lot of positive feedback on the video, which highlights his poor fashion sense and his close relationship with his mother. His goal was to strike an emotional chord with people.

“I’m big on creativity and music. The video on the homepage, I put my heart into it,” he said.

Wheeler said he and Thompson know that to make the site successful, they have to be in it for the long haul. As a free dating website, revenue is based on ads. In the future, Wheeler said, he wants to offer premium memberships, which for about $8 to $10 may remove ads and move a profile up to the top of the results list.

Wheeler estimates about 50,000 to 100,000 members are needed for the partners to take an income from the site. The men seek a financial backer to help keep Settleforlove on a positive projectile.

In the future, Wheeler wants to add profile verification. Right now his younger brothers, Daniel and Bradley, scroll through the site looking for pornographic material and deleting it, as well as answering emails.

In the end, Wheeler believes it will be his and Thompson’s passion in Settleforlove that will make it a big success.

“You really have to have at least one person driven to do it,” he said.