CEO and co-founder Scott Avy says SwanLuv is like a casino for marriages, but the company doesn’t really stand to lose because the odds are 50 percent in their favor. He does want all marriages to succeed, but the statistics clearly show that not all of them will. And that’s what the company is heavily banking on. “It comes back to statistics,” Avy said. “We’ll have the right odds so we’ll be OK. But they won’t be so crazy that no one wants to do it.”
Avy insists that couples can actually stand to gain from the scheme, if they’re confident their relationship will last. It gives them a chance to gamble on themselves, and it also raises an important question: “Should we be getting married if we’re not willing to sign up?”
A Seattle startup is in the news for investing in divorce – its business model is based on the fact that nearly 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the US end up parting ways. SwanLuv offers to pay couples for their dream wedding, but the money will have to be returned with interest if they ever get divorced.
So if you’re about to get married and you apply to Swanluv, they’ll run your profile through an algorithm, study your relationship, and select you if you meet their criteria. Then, they’ll offer you a loan of up to $10,000. You don’t have to return the money, ever, as long as you stay together. But the moment you decide to get a divorce you’ve got to cough up the original amount, plus interest. And stronger relationships are assigned higher interest rates, so the longer couples stay together, the more they’ll stand to lose if they split.
When you think about it, that’s kind of like the opposite of how insurance works. You’re supposed to get paid when things go wrong, but with SwanLuv, it’s the other way round.
“It really depends on where you are in your relationship,” Avy said. “I’m betting on my relationship I’ve established with my soul mate. It’s going to be a no-brainer for the ones it makes sense for.”
There will be clauses in the contract that protect one or both partners. So if a marriage ends in abuse, only one person is responsible for paying off the debt. And to help couples beat the odds, SwanLuv offers free marriage counselling when things get rocky.
It certainly is an unusual and a rather controversial business model, but according to Avy the math makes sense. He claims that he’s already talking to angel investors, but it’s unclear whether the company has managed to raise funds or not. If the idea does take off, there’s bound to be criticism over the fact that SwanLuv essentially gambles on people’s lives and happiness. But the company’s website insists that they do not actually profit from divorces.
“100% of the money collected from members who are later divorced is used to provide funds for future couples’ dream weddings,” it states. “SwanLuv keeps the dream alive.”
Avy says most people have reacted positively to the concept. “They’re signing up for it,” he said. “We’re not forcing them. It’s all by choice.” He is accepting applications from couples and hopes to start making payments by Valentine’s Day next year. Would you be willing to bet on your relationship?