"Roses are red, violets are blue, and we'll send them both to your girlfriend for you." Okay, while not in those exact words, that's the basic pitch behind a suite of services such as "Better Boyfriend" that target the young straight men of San Francisco, a set of truly hopeless romantics and not in the positive sense.
The brainchild of 27-year-old finance consultant and Harvard graduate Dan Sullivan, Better Boyfriend has more than 350 members according to coverage in the Guardian. Each month, the home delivery subscription service emails them about seven gift and activity recommendations, from chocolates and tea sets to picnic baskets and in-home massage credits. Sullivan's three-person team delivers the unbranded, unlabeled gifts to boyfriends. At around $70 per month for the subscription, depending on the gifts selected, that nets Better Boyfriend roughly $17,000 in monthly revenue.
"BetterBoyfriend hit something,” Sullivan told the Guardian. “It’s a pain point everyone has.” So far his customers include friends in finance and tech, one of whom writes by way of a testimonial that, "The picnic basket was awesome! I had it fully stocked as soon as she woke up on Saturday and we had brunch in the park! Thank you!"
If you're the type to shop around, Fortune points out another, soon-to-launch service, the Gentleman App. "Gents, let's face it, we're not the best at relationships," reads that site. "It’s time you let a professional take over the date planning and daily affirmations." How does that work? "All of the dates are planned by real people who are deeply familiar with your city, so you get the most authentic experience. Complete your survey and we'll connect you with a real person to better understand your dating needs. " And girlfriends, take note — you can secretly sign your man up for the Gentleman App — you know, if you don't want to just cut out the middleman and buy yourself gifts.
San Francisco's hetero-bro population doesn't have a reputation for Lothario-like prowess in the first place, so if you don't have anyone for whom you need automated gift deliveries just yet, worry not. You might consider services aimed at scoring dates and relationships. Last year, Business Insider introduced us to Introverted Alpha, a loal dating consultancy. "My clients are usually guys in their late 20s," said Jones, "Most of my clients are very good looking and social, but they have built up all this tension around this one thing, and they don't want to be creepy and weird." Introverted Alpha pitches itself as an alternative to the more troubling Pick Up Artist macho approach: "You can attract women without being someone you’re not," the website advises.
While more secure types might have no problem admitting they sought professional guidance or outsourced gifts, there are potential problems for those less willing to disclose their secret hired gift elves. An early package from Better Boyfriend, for example, included a receipt with Sullivan's name, rather than the boyfriend in question. ‘Listen dude she’s not mad but Cynthia found out," that boyfriend wrote to Sullivan. Perhaps better discretion is called for as these services gain market share. And/or there are going to be a lot more women shrugging and admitting to their friends, "My boyfriend hired an app to send me stuff because he is lazy and otherwise lacks imagination, but at least he's spending money on me and I'm just waiting for that ring, amirite?"