CHARLOTTE — Joseph Dixon married in his early 20s and was divorced in his early 30s.
When he felt it was time to start dating again, he was lost. He tried two or three online dating sites, but he couldn’t find what he was looking for.
Online dating needed a place for relationship-minded African-Americans, Dixon said. And he wanted to be the one to fill that void.
“Seeing that there was a niche, a void that needed to be filled, I decided to fill that void for people like me — for people who are relationship-minded African-Americans that were looking for something they could turn to,” Dixon said.
In 2013, with his background in web development, Dixon launched Charlotte-based RealBlackLove Inc., an online dating site for African-American singles.
But his plans for RBL didn’t stop there.
‘I did my research’
With a little research, Dixon would learn that most African-Americans access the internet through mobile devices.
That’s when he turned to creating an app for his dating platform. The RBL app version 1.0 was launched in late 2014.
The app was nominated as “Best Dating App” in 2016 by the iDate awards.
“When you have better relationships, you have better families. When you have better families, you have better community,” Dixon said. “I really believe that the app, the matchmaking, the movement itself is very important because it helps people connect.”
In 2018, Dixon launched RBL 2.0, and for sign-ups, the company is averaging 200 to 300 a day, he said. RBL is currently at 200,000 members nationwide, but with RBL 2.0, Dixon thinks it will hit the 1 million mark within a year.
With only four to five dating apps that target African-American singles, Dixon said he knows his competition well. These competitors include BlackPeopleMeet.com and Meld.
“I know what they offer, and I know what we offer,” Dixon said. “And that’s why I say we are the number one African-American dating app.”
RBL 2.0 offers unlimited messaging for all members and a no-catfish guarantee, something important to Dixon’s mission.
It can take up to a day for users to get approved, but Dixon said he wants to verify members to guarantee user privacy.
But Dixon doesn’t only utilize the app. He also uses Facebook to gain a greater following for the platform, as well as to engage RBL members. His greatest Facebook following is in Texas, and Dixon holds events to promote the platform in the state.
RBL user Teri Taylor met her now-husband Dedric on Facebook through the RBL platform before becoming a member on RBL.
“The experience with the RBL website was different — a good different,” Taylor said.
What makes him different
Taylor describes Dixon as real and genuine. He was made for what he does, able to help his female clients understand the men they are dating, she said.
This skill helps Dixon in another service most online dating platforms don’t offer. In 2015, Dixon started professional matchmaking.
It’s something he says he was good at it college, so he decided to add this service to RBL.
One of his favorite success stories goes back to a client who gave him a long list of qualities she was looking for in a partner. With Dixon’s blunt nature, he told her exactly what she was describing.
“I say, ‘what you’re looking for is a unicorn,’” Dixon said with a laugh. He worked with his client to find her a partner who established her needs, and he was honest with her about things she needed to work on herself.
He said his client responded well and said no one had told her those things about herself. That’s when she knew she wanted to work with Dixon.
After working with him, she met a man she has been dating for nine months, and she’s found the happiness Dixon wants for his clients.
What’s next for RBL
When Dixon is asked about other business partners, he kind of laughs.
“I am RBL,” Dixon said.
In addition to him, he has a few contract developers in Poland who help with the app, but he’s ready for this to change.
He’s taken the company as far as he can by himself. After recently taking the company public, he’s ready to bring on investors who can take the company to the next level. But they have to be people that care about his mission to build better communities.
And his ultimate goal? For RBL to become a household name.
Dixon thinks it’s well on its way.
“I really want it to be a household name, and to go down as a company that has changed the community and given people an opportunity to meet someone and fall in love,” Dixon said. “We were born to love.”
This story is from the North Carolina Business News Wire, a service of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism