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SparkNight hopes to ignite exciting dates


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All the idea needed was the spark of Startup Weekend Des Moines, and just 48 hours later SparkNight was launched.

SparkNight is a company that aims to act as the spice in the life of Greater Des Moines couples who need a little help planning exciting dates. For a flat fee of $60, a representative will have a 10-15 minute conversation to gain an understanding of the couple’s interests, find a price range (the $60 doesn’t cover the cost of the date) and pick a time. SparkNight then plans a surprise date based on its clients’ interests and using its members’ expertise regarding Des Moines. And no, it won’t be dinner and a movie.

“I was pretty surprised,” said Shelly Leonard, one of three members running SparkNight. “A lot of people will say for this one special night out, they’d be willing to pay $100 to $150 just for the date, so that gives us a lot of freedom to kind of figure out the local events and nice restaurants.”

The first couple SparkNight worked with had a card with Scrabble tiles delivered to their house, along with a bouquet of flowers, and they had to unscramble the tiles to figure out where they were going. First the couple was sent to Lucca, where they got another letter with Scrabble pieces that told them to go to Grand Piano Bistro.

Founder Torey Maerz came up with the idea by trying to figure out how to build a romantic relationship with his wife while balancing child rearing and all of the other pressures of life. Leonard and Lacey Powers, both with backgrounds in marketing, teamed up with Maerz, whom they hadn’t previously known, at Startup Weekend.Their team competed, came in second, but was awarded the $800 first prize when the team that won decided its idea faced too much competition.

Leonard said the group hopes to build its client base to 200 and cap it off. She said the goal is to have very close relationships with the couples so they can tailor the dates.

Two couples have gone on dates, with more already scheduled. The group used Facebook advertisements initially, but plans to rely on word-of-mouth referral marketing by sending a follow-up thank-you letter and three “SparkCards” that clients can pass along to friends and family.

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