There are a ton of matchmaking sites, but none that truly cater to African-American professionals. Until now, that is. Businessman Paul Carrick Brunson has founded OneDegreeFrom.Me, a matchmaking and relationship coaching company that caters specifically to the young African-American professional.
The idea came after Brunson worked with more than 100 at-risk youth at a summer camp sponsored by the L10 Project, a nonprofit organization that he founded to address academic achievement gaps through school revitalization projects in the U.S. and the Caribbean. "My foundation managed a summer camp in D.C. in 2008 and I was startled to find out that not one of the approximately 100 students who participated had two parents in their households," recalls Brunson. "Throughout the summer I witnessed how this impacted them socially, emotionally, and academically. It was during that summer in 2008 when I began thinking of solutions to strengthen the family. OneDegreeFrom.Me was born from that thinking."
In addition, Brunson started by hosting dinner parties/mixers in his home for single friends. And after two months of research, during which time he became a certified life coach and served as an apprentice under New York Times bestselling author and matchmaker Rachel Greenwald, he founded OneDegreeFrom.Me. Finally in 2009, OneDegreeFrom.Me was launched.
He used his own financing to start the company. "Relative to other businesses I’ve been a part of, the startup capital required for OneDegreeFrom.Me was less but money was necessary to jump-start the business," notes Brunson. "I’ve invested at least $50,000 in the business (we became profitable within the first 10 months)."
And it has nearly been an instant success. "The response has been nothing short of incredible. Within about a year of operation, we have become recognized for being one of the thought leaders and most effective services in the relationship space. We’ve directly served over 100 clients, have had over 1,000 people attend our live events, and our video blog has been viewed over 100,000 times," says Brunson.
And Brunson has even more promotion plans. "Well, while we heavily use social media tools to grow our brand, I don’t consider us an “online” business. That said, we make nearly all of our revenue from ‘offline’ activities," he notes. "Ultimately, I believe longevity is directly correlated with your happiness in the business. Passion, effort and creativity are all the elements required to sustain a business over the long term. These elements determine our level of contentment, so to ensure our longevity I plan to stay happy doing what we do."
Brunson’s goal is a big one, but one he thinks is possible--"To become the preeminent conduit for people to connect."