'Simulating the bar environment on your phone': Speed dating with a twist

Muireann Duffy

The move to online dating seems to have happened slowly, then all at once. Helped along by apps like Tinder in the 2010s, then catapulted into normality by Covid-19, meeting a partner online is no longer a concept to be spoken of in hushed tones.

While the internet and apps have opened up a world of possibilities for daters, founder and chief executive of Katch, Paul Numan, says focusing on the tried and tested methods are what set the company apart.

Although Katch is an online dating tool, allowing users to take part in virtual speed dating events, Paul says it’s more akin to having conversations with people at a bar rather than the pressurised environment of traditional speed dating.

“Singledom is like a disease,” Numan jokes. “[In speed dating] you go into a room, everyone’s really nervous. You can cut the tension. Everyone’s on edge and it’s very difficult to relax.”

A developer by trade, he thought there was a better way to bring people together, and the idea for Katch was born.

Aimed primarily at people in their mid-30s to mid-50s, Numan explains the events are “simulating the bar environment on your phone”, with a host, such as a musician or comedian, there to help break the ice.

He adds that Katch’s relaxed approach helps users to shake off the nerves and get involved.

“We’ve had lads who might be 35 and they haven’t been kissed, and they’ll say ‘this is so easy to chat to people’.”

Numan - who himself is one of the company’s success stories, having met his girlfriend through Katch – says, particularly after the isolation of the pandemic, the events are an easy way for people to get back out there and meet new people.

Even if romance doesn’t blossom, he insists it’s still a chance to practice your chat, “because the more you get over the anxiety, the more you can be yourself, and people will see that”.

And what’s the most common reaction of participants? “Surprise,” says Numan. “I get a lot of people telling me ‘that was so easy’!”

Katch is hosting a number of virtual speed dating events over St Patrick’s weekend and more information can be found on