Start-up Adopt Him, which was launched last week, wants to shake up online dating in SA by making men pay to use the site and attempt to woo female users. The site is free for female subscribers.
The website is the latest venture from one of the cofounders of controversial and now-defunct penny auction site Smokoo, Thomas Pays.
Pays, who is now marketing director at Adopt Him, says the site has had about 500 sign-ups since it launched on 12 May. He says the website is ironing out the last of its bugs before it goes on a marketing drive that will include pay-per-click advertising and encouraging other sites to embed Adopt Him content on their sites in a revenue-sharing model.
The service allows women to sign up for free and browse male users’ profiles. Women can then choose which users may contact them. Men, once granted access to another user’s profile, can send them virtual gifts. There are purchased using credits that can be bought on the site. The credits cost between R50 for 50, up to R1 000 for 1 400.
In order to approach other users, men require a subscription. A single month’s subscription costs R149. A three-month subscription goes for R387 (R129/month), six months costs R714 (R119/month) and an annual subscription — called “the long game” — will set users back R1 188 (R99/month).
Pays says one of the things that sets Adopt Him apart from other dating sites is that subscriptions aren’t subjected to automatic renewal as they are on so many other services.
“Our research shows this was one of the biggest frustrations about dating sites,” says Pays. “We don’t want to force your hand. We want to please customers and make money that way. We don’t want to make money because we’ve found a way of extorting it from our users.”
Women cannot be contacted by men unless they have specifically allowed men they choose to do so. Otherwise, men can only contact women by sending them virtual gifts. “We give you 20 credits at registration,” Pays explains.
“This is the purpose of ‘adopting’: women are not bothered unless they unlock access to a specific male profile so the only way to get attention is to send them gifts. We want adopting to be an entire process, a serious site for people looking to find love.”
Pays says that although there are some international sites offering a similar service, there are no direct local competitors and location is essential for a successful dating site because users only want to interact with people they might actually be able to meet.
“The speciality of our businesses has been getting brands out there and creating brand awareness. We do know of a few international sites doing similar things, but these sorts of sites need to be local.”
For now, Pays says the site’s users are almost equally split between men and women. Asked about gay male users, Pays says they are catered for in the early part of the registration process that concerns sexual orientation.
Pays admits gay men are at a “disadvantage” as men have to pay for use of the service. “It’s part of the site unfortunately.” This does, however, mean the site is essentially a free service for lesbian users. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media