I met Dana Sacia at SHOT Show in Las Vegas last January, and listened to her as she enthusiastically described her new business. It’s called H4C, aka Hunting4Connections. Since she recently launched the service in July, I figured it’s time to check in with Dana about this online dating site, tailored to people who love the outdoors.
The WON: What is H4C about?
Dana Sacia: Hunting4Connections (H4C) is an online dating and friending site for people who live an outdoor lifestyle that want to connect with other outdoor enthusiasts.
The WON: How did you get this idea?
Dana Sacia: I had a genuine calling for close to a year before coming up with the idea. During that time, I knew I was being pulled to create a new business; I just didn’t know what it was. I knew I needed to be doing something that helped people on a much bigger scale. I continued to pray for the answer. Being an avid outdoorsman myself, I was getting back-to-back messages from people wondering if I had any other single friends, cousins, or sisters that also enjoyed the outdoors? Being a recruiter by day, I match like-minded candidates with prospective clients. It got me thinking about the power of connections and the magic that can happen when you bring like-minded people together. I combined that idea with my love for hunting, fishing, and spending time outside; the idea for a dating site that connected outdoor enthusiasts had been born. I knew it could be an opportunity for me to help others on a bigger scale and, to promote healthy relationships. I started doing research and found that there weren’t any other major players in this space, but quickly realized there were a lot of people that wanted one. I took the idea to my kids and they supported it, agreeing that a lot of positive things could come from it. We sat down and thought about what we would do if we had an opportunity to give back. All 3 of us had similar ideas and they all involved the outdoors. We decided to unite as a family and create a business that would strive to help others, give back, and make a difference. We are hopeful the site will encourage more folks to try new activities and hopefully find a new passion, hobby, or love along the way.
The WON: Why do you think this service will be beneficial?
Dana Sacia: We believe it will be beneficial for several reasons:
The WON: What is it like working with your sons?
Dana Sacia: The 3 of us have always been close and shared an entrepreneurial spirit, combined with a desire to give back and help others. This process has been an opportunity of growth individually and as a family. We are like every other family; we agree and disagree on certain things. We have all had areas we needed to improve on and learn. It’s been rewarding, as a mother, to see levels of commitment being held and visions taking shape. Overall, we’re proud to be a family-owned business and excited to promote something we’re all so passionate about.
The WON: Why do you think this is an important service to offer?
Dana Sacia: I think it’s important because so many of the dating apps today lead with the “Sex Sells” approach. That might be true in some cases, but we all know that serious relationships require more than just sexual chemistry. We are trying to lead the way for like-minded people who enjoy outdoor lifestyles. Building a community of people that all share a lifestyle is only going to help the user. It will help them save time and emotional energy – by not having to weed through hundreds of profiles to only find they don’t match with any of them. Additionally, people who love the outdoors know if they become single, they will not date someone who doesn’t support their hobbies and passions. We live a specific lifestyle and we understand it’s not negotiable. Every healthy relationship must share some hobbies in common, so they can build on the friendship piece of the union. This is an important service because it gives people the secure feeling of knowing they are surrounded by their kind of people.
The WON: Have you ever played matchmaker?
Dana Sacia: I have been playing matchmaker for the past 16 years, when I started my own recruiting business in the financial services industry. I am hired by my clients to match them with candidates. On a personal side, I have always been the go-to person for people struggling in their relationships or dates. I have an easy way of seeing both sides and tend to offer sound meaningful advice. I can be in a room full of 100 strangers and the one person who is having relationship issues will find a way to unconsciously find me. I enjoy it and always welcome an opportunity to help.
The WON: How do you plan to promote the business?
Dana Sacia: Being a self-funded new business can be somewhat challenging when it comes to marketing and spreading the word straight out of the gate. As a business, we also are “hunting 4 connections,” no pun intended, and doing as much organic reach as we can through social media.
I started a hunting and fishing Facebook group called “Hunting4Connections” 3 years ago, which has grown to over 25,000 active members. They have been supportive and helpful. Additionally, as a dating site you need permission to advertise on Facebook and our application has been declined. We can only assume it’s because we have the word hunting in our company name. We are hopeful to change that outcome. We flew to Utah and did a promotional launch video with the owner of Reflections Media, Jeff Jensen. We have contracted with The Michael Koolidge Radio Show in Illinois and are excited to see the outcome from that effort. We have partnered with other great companies, such as Tactacam, Hiding Hilda, Walk on Archery, Snowy Ridge Metal Art, Harpole’s Heartland Lodge and 4 Amigos Ranch.
Once we become a paid service, we will be putting more money back into marketing. The service currently is providing 100 free tokens, which allows for communicating for free until the tokens run out and then it becomes a paid membership. It’s $19.97 for 1 month, $39.97 for 3 months and $59.97 for 6 months. Our growth plan is to market state-by-state, in hopes to fill the database one area at a time. Our vision is to help more people by focusing on specific geographic areas. Our goal is to connect with as many bloggers, writers, newspapers, magazines and podcasts as possible to help us spread the word.
The WON: What makes you better than your competition?
Dana Sacia: H4C created unique matching questions to help match people, based on their outdoor hobbies and passions. We are unique because we focus on a specific niche market and we’re not trying to dominate the entire population. We want people who live an outdoor lifestyle to feel at home on our site – a place that they know they belong because the people there are like them. We also are the first outdoor dating site that will give back to the outdoor community. Our token system provides a unique experience, opening up another way to connect with people. Our upcoming features will be something the dating space is not used to, but will offer a new user experience. We look forward to announcing that feature release in the future.
The WON: Have your business lessons helped you shape this new venture?
Dana Sacia: I learned a few very business important lessons that went into forming H4C. The first lesson came from working at a company that tried to specialize in every market. You can’t be an expert in every area, because you serve no real value to your customers if you’re trying to serve everyone. I saw it wasn’t working and picked one industry and went out on my own and turned it into a successful business by just trying to serve 1 niche industry. I knew if I could become an expert in 1 area, I could offer a genuine solution to people in need in that one dominant market. It was an important lesson I learned along the way. Niche markets are key!
The other lesson I learned was the power of connecting liked-minded people. So many doors and opportunities can be opened and lives can change for the better when you’re surrounded by people who share your interests.
Combining those 2 important lessons allowed me to understand the value of why a niche-based site was so important. Our goal is to serve the market we know best and serve it to the best of our ability. I have always believed if your intentions are genuine and you’re doing the right thing, you can never go wrong.
The Won: You mentioned giving back? How will you do this?
Dana Sacia: Giving back is one of the main reasons we felt so compelled to push forward with this business. Once the site is profitable, we will be donating a piece of each member’s paid subscription back to an outdoor or nonprofit of the member’s choice. Additionally, I set a goal when I was 19 to build a domestic abuse safe house to honor my mother’s struggles with domestic violence. After a toxic marriage and divorce, I knew 1 Domestic Abuse Safe House wasn’t enough for the amount of people my heart feels called to help. I am now on a mission to build one in every state in the US. The boys and I knew we needed something positive to come from a negative life obstacle. This is partially why promoting healthy relationships is so very important to us.
I’m a firm believer in setting high goals – some as high as a mountain. Every step up the massive mountain gets you one step closer to the end goal. We proudly take one step a day because we know that nobody ever climbed a mountain by looking at it.
We are committed to this business and look forward to the positive impact it will create.
The WON: What else should we know about Hunting4Connections?
Dana Sacia: Each person that signs up before the end of the year that creates a profile and uploads a picture will be entered into a drawing to win a 5-day, 4-night romantic getaway at the beautiful Harpole’s Heartland Lodge in Illinois. We will be giving away a signed shotgun from Patrick Flanigan, 9-time world champion expedition shooter. Additionally, in 2020 we will have other special giveaways, including several hunts, fishing trips, as well as a Redneck Adventure weekend getaway. We have a lot of great things planned for the future and welcome everyone to follow up on Facebook and Instagram and stay tuned for the upcoming giveaways.
Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. She is a contributing editor at "SHOT Business," and her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at ozarkian.com. View all posts by Barbara Baird