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Darren hit on the idea of setting up a dating service while idly surfing the web one evening at home. Having recently come out of a long-term relationship, he realised that the net could be the perfect way of meeting other singletons in his area. But when he searched for an online dating service to join, he could only find companies based in the US. Even worse, none of the sites seemed to take the idea of meeting a new partner online seriously, encouraging members to use "nicknames" such as 'Sexy Babe' and 'Hotpants'.


Darren drew up a blueprint of what he thought an online dating service should be like and spent the next three months thoroughly researching the market, conducting straw polls in the street and asking friends and relatives for their views. Encouraged by their response, he bought some software and a couple of website magazines and then built a simple site where people could post their details. "It was a very basic service and didn't work that well. But it was getting a lot of hits and it proved to me there were a lot of people out there who wanted to use it." Inspired by the response, Darren decided to create a fully-fledged dating website through which members could contact each other directly.


The first version of the site was launched in January 1999 at a cost of £2,500. Within three months it had 40,000 members.


Darren still had a big problem. To start making money he needed to get people to pay for his service online by credit card. Barclaycard, however, wasn't interested. "It was a nightmare. I knew the company wouldn't survive unless we could take credit-card payments. But we were turned down three times by Barclaycard, back then, meeting people online was unheard of, and they felt a dating service was a high-risk area in the same category as gambling and pornography." Refusing to take no for an answer, Darren went to see the man in charge of applications and gave him a demonstration of the website. He was so impressed he agreed to grant Darren credit-card facilities on the spot.


That changed everything. Darren started charging £15 a month for members wanting to contact potential partners through the site. The concept worked. Several years later in January 2007 and with over 5 million members, Darren sold the company to Meetic PLC (now part of the group) for £30 million.

Property Investments

Darren has invested some of the proceeds of the sale in to property. Unlike a lot of the get-rich-quick and amateur property investors we've seen over the last decade of property boom and bust, Darren invested wisely for the long term. He now has a property portfolio in excess of £10 million. Shunning property hotspots such as Dubai, Eastern Europe and the Spanish mainland - which he saw as over-inflated and a bubble which did indeed burst, Darren has redeveloped many properties in the UK for long term rentals.


On a more personal note, Darren has also built up a small commercial empire in his favourite destination of the Canary Islands - buying up several bars and restaurants in the Playa de las Americas region of Tenerife. He also owns a multi-million Euro villa on the island.

As a professional property developer, Darren has gained a lot of experience in the property sector, particularly in the UK where he has a multi-million-pound property portfolio. Having made dozens of property transactions over the years since selling, Darren began to question the costs involved in buying, selling and letting property.


Traditional high street estate agents charge large commission fees for selling your property, usually between 1% and 2% of the asking price. It seemed unfair that the higher the valuation, the more it costs to sell or let your property, even though the service is basically the same regardless of the property value. And when you consider the record highs in house prices over the past decade, a commission based model begins to sound unfeasible for the future.


Looking for a fairer alternative - a fixed fee - Darren looked into the many, so-called online estate agents that had sprung up over recent years. However, although these estate agents offered the fixed fees Darren was looking for, he found that the service was hit and miss. Online estate agents save costs by operating online instead of from a high street branch, but this also means they don't have the local expertise or man power.


A conversation with industry expert Ben Grove, led Darren to set up - a national estate agent with 0% commission. By employing local experts in every area of the UK, offered the same level of service as the traditional estate agent, but by charging a low fixed fee like online estate agents, being without doubt much fairer and simpler for the customer. The best of both worlds.


Launched in January 2011 became one of the largest leading online estate agents in the UK, long before other sites such as PurpleBricks, YOPA, and easyProperty etc adopted the same business model. was acquired in 2017 and merged with a larger similar business.

Children’s Vitamin Chocolate Bars

Children’s Vitamin Chocolate Bars

Yummy Bars are a completely new concept in children's confectionery!


When is a chocolate bar good for children? When it’s not only made using the finest Reduced Sugar chocolate sourced directly here in the UK, (a massive 35% less sugar than other leading brand chocolate bars) but also includes 50% of a child’s Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamins and Minerals.


And, as well as being Reduced Sugar and packed with essential daily vitamins that promote a child’s development, Yummy Bars are also entirely Nut Free, meaning they are totally safe to be taken to school as part of your child’s lunch box.


Our inspiration

The idea for Yummy Bars came about when friends Anthony Gauntlett and Darren Richards, both single fathers, were discussing their children’s health and the importance of good nutrition. Before long, the conversation shifted to their growing frustration over the increasing lack of healthier children’s snacks available on the market.


The problem, the dads found, is that the majority of the options out there are not, shall we say, compatible with good health. Motivated by the challenge of finding a healthier alternative they scoured the streets, shops and even the internet, looking everywhere for a chocolate bar which not only would be lower in sugar, but also contain all the recommended daily vitamins that their kids were currently taking as gummies. After a long search, which even included specialist health stores, they had found absolutely nothing. Or, to put it another way, they had found something: a massive gap in the market.


Our mission

After discussing the idea with many other parents, Tony and Darren set about developing their own brand of children’s chocolate, which would not only cover these needs but create a much-needed ally for parents in the war against the army of junk food designed to tempt children.


Over a period of time, the fathers met up regularly to test recipes and experiment with flavours in their own kitchens, adding the vitamins and experimenting with popular flavours. The first flavours were Orange, Strawberry and Salted Caramel.


When they were happy with the results, they decided to brave reviews from their strongest critics: their children. The result, a resounding thumbs up - the children absolutely loved them! In fact, that's how the bars got their name: When they were asked what they thought of these new chocolate bars, their answer was a very favourable "YUMMY!".


It’s no secret that all children love a good super hero. This is why, as an added touch, the dads decided to harness the adoration children have for fictional characters and name the flavours as Super Heroes; Awesome Orange, Super Strawberry & Captain Caramel, whose mission is clear: to make sure all children enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle and a tasty, nutritional diet.

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