We speak to the woman behind Hong Kong’s hottest new group dating… move over, Tinder, Grouvly is the new kid on the block!
Step aside Tinder, Grouvly is the new go-to way to meet people in our crazy cities. Launched in 2015, this startup is now in Hong Kong and Singapore, and seems to be growing quickly. If you’ve somehow missed the Grouvly craze, it’s a ‘social club’ that sets up two groups of friends over drinks (check out our Sassy experience with Grouvly here!). The concept may sound simple, but after talking with the lady behind the madness, Silvia Paredes, we’ve learned that a lot more goes into it than picking names out of a hat!
Silvia is the Director of Member Experience, and if you’ve ever been on a Grouvly, you know her. She’s the one who approved your application (a process they do with each potential member); she hand picked your matches and kept you in the loop the whole night. Did you get lost on the way to the bar? Silvia got you there. Fancy another free drink? Silvia knows a way to get you one. Can’t think of where to go next? Silvia again! She’s like a living, breathing Siri but with better directions and conversations. We warmed to her as soon as we heard the phrase ‘free drink’…
How did you get involved with Grouvly?
It runs in the family! My brother Camilo started the business; he’s the guy you always see in the magazines. I was working in a boring corporate job, and one day he asked me, “How about you move to Hong Kong and help me set this up. You know, learn something for real?”. Classic brother move, but it worked. I moved to Hong Kong four weeks later and have worked with him ever since. And you know what the worst part is? He was right! I have learnt so much more in the past few months than I have in the whole of my pre-Grouvly life.
When did you start working with Grouvly?
I only started working in January 2015! So what is that? Less than 9 months – it’s incredible how fast things have moved.
You’re definitely the girl in charge at Grouvly – sending texts, emails, everything! What exactly is your job?
We are a startup, so we all wear different hats. I’ve got three main roles: Director of Member Experience, Product Development and Finance and Operations. The hours are long, I literally work over 12 hours per day, but it’s fun, I love it, and I’ve learnt tons. My favourite job is definitely Director of Member Experience though. I love talking to our members and making sure their nights are as great as possible. There are times when the 3am texts get a little trying… but usually those are great, like when one group went to Macau!
Has that actually happened?
Yes! I can’t remember exactly what time, but a group decided they were going and that was that. I’m not sure if they meant that night or in the future, but it was still pretty great to read.
What is it like interacting with members on a daily basis?
It’s always different. Some groups ask me for challenges all night to keep getting free drinks! So then we’re constantly talking and I’m getting photos and videos of everything in real time. It’s amazing! I love those nights. Sometimes, people are more reserved and it’s more like a, “Are you guys doing alright?” followed by, “Yup, thanks!”
There are mornings when I wake up to messages thanking me for arranging a great night and those are so rewarding. Obviously it’s not all me, but I am the one staying up late so I don’t feel too guilty taking the credit.
Do people ever send you funny texts?
All the time! We’ve actually started putting our favourite ones into the weekly newsletter because they’re just too good not to share! My personal favourite involved an excellently placed typo (something that rhymes with ‘duck’). The guy was so embarrassed and with each message he just kept making it worse. It was hilarious.
How often do you get hit on via text?
I’d say a few times a month, not that I’m counting. Usually they try to get me to come out on their Grouvly and join the night, but I tend to decline. It’s not our intention to jump in and get too involved – the night is for our members!
What is it about Grouvly that makes it special?
I honestly think the concept is brilliant. Having two good friends with you takes away the awkwardness of the night and if it doesn’t, that’s what the first round of drinks is for! One of the things I like the most is the safety of it. There are no labels, no pressures, it’s not exactly dating and it’s not exactly networking. It’s simply you and your friends having a drink with some new people. If you want to do something more, that’s up to you, but it’s an added bonus than a requirement, for sure.
Grouvly recently launched in Singapore and you’re managing it here and there. How do you balance your time?!
That’s what interns are for… just kidding! We are a very small team, but we use what we have: strong thumbs and great tech. We’ve got a few automated processes that help us get big messages out and arrange dates seamlessly, but besides that, it’s all me! If you text me, I’ll always respond. Not a machine, not an intern, me! I could probably win an award for my texting skills at this point.
Have you ever been on a Grouvly?
Of course, I’ve been on three! I think they’re great, but it’s hard to get the time to schedule myself into one when I’m the one organising them. I usually don’t tell my matches what I do (or you know, that I’ve picked them myself…) until after the date. Actually, anyone who works for us has been on a Grouvly. It helps the whole operation run smoothly because we all know how it works from the inside out.
How should we prepare for our Grouvlys?
I think it really varies from person to person, but ultimately you have to come with an open mind and a positive attitude. Grouvly is definitely for people who want to branch out and have some fun. There’s a reason we give away so many free drinks!
What’s the best part of working for Grouvly?
There are so many perks, especially working with our awesome team, but the best part to me is the day after the Grouvly. Our members fill in a feedback form and I’m addicted to them. Some of the things people say are just hilarious! Overall though, it’s just really positive, and I love helping people have a good time. Of course we’ve had a few less rave reviews, but those people always come back for round two, so we’re doing something right!
Grouvly sends people to great bars all around Hong Kong, how do you find all of them?
Thankfully that is a different team’s area! I don’t think I could handle all the choice we have. I do know they rely heavily on word of mouth recommendations; so if you know a good place, let us know! My new favourite bars are all places I went to thanks to Grouvly. Actually, maybe that’s the best perk of the job!
Any last words?
If you haven’t tried Grouvly yet, I think you should – I’ll hook you up right! 🙂