OPW INTERVIEW -- Aug 26, 2007 -- Moses Brown is proud Online Booty Call has only had one marriage confirmed on his site. Check out the press release they released announcing the fact. While most of the industry is attracting people for love, marriage and romance, OBC promises a booty call. The message is refreshing for many who frequent OBC, it's to the point, and fun. Moses announced 10 commandments of dating back in January. I. Thou shalt get out before the sun rises, II. Thou shouldest never ask "can we see each other from now on?", III. Thou shalt refrain from referring to our activities as "love making." You get the picture. OBC is doing rather well, and was #13 on the Hitwise internet dating rankings for July. Here's my interview with Mo. - Mark Brooks
What is OnlineBootyCall’s founding story?
OBC’s founding story didn’t involve any market research or strategy. It was just a project I was doing while I was an engineer. Then, the dot.com disaster struck and I found myself without a job. So, around October of 2002, I turned my project into a business.
I think the name alone generated attention. I was the first member and, of course, told all my friends about it and from there word just got around. I don’t think people had ever seen something like it before. We introduced a referral program and the concept just continued to grow from there. It’s a kind of grassroots story.
When did you start charging?
On day one. I had heard stories that you had to reach a critical mass to get members to the point of wanting to upgrade. But after only about 40 members, I got my first conversion. Back then, the pricing was a little different. Not much more actually then it is now, but it was like $7.95 a month.
How would you say OBC is different from other dating sites?
It’s different in the approach. We approach dating in a light-hearted fashion. Obviously, the name implies more of a stage-one service for people who are just entering the dating scene. The culture on OBC also is a little different from most mainstream sites. We have more of an urban, hip-hop crowd. We embrace that, we like it, we like being different. I’m sure some of our users are on other dating sites, but we attract 18-24 year olds and I think for a lot of them OnlineBootyCall is their introduction to dating.
How many marriages have you had so far?
A grand total of one. In October 2006, we reached one million members and had only one confirmed marriage then. I’m proud to say that our members are following our Booty Call commandments. It’s not like we discourage people from getting married. It’s just that most of the people on OBC are in a place in their lives where they’re not ready to get married, but still want to meet others. I had someone ask me, “You have one confirmed marriage, but how many divorces have you caused?”
How do you handle scamming?
Scamming is a tough one. I think the kind of scammers we’re getting range from people who want to peddle prostitution to Nigerian scammers. We’re pretty much experiencing what I think the rest of the industry is experiencing. Unfortunately, as you become more popular on the Internet, you’re naturally going to become more of a target for people, like hackers and scammers, who want to harm your site. I don’t know if the percentage of scammers has increased, but there definitely are more people making attempts and we’re consequently stepping up our efforts to stop them.
We were actually introduced to a new product (I think it’s by Iovation) that actually produces a fingerprint for every user who visits your site. We did a test run and were able to track down people who were creating multiple accounts and joining for the wrong reasons. So, it’s been pretty effective actually. We also have a sniffer program in place. Every profile that is created is reviewed. We have a support team that takes action when a report is flagged from inside a message a member receives. Finally, we try to educate our members about what to look for as far as scamming goes. We all have to share our information. The only way the online dating and social networking industries can beat the scammers is by sharing.
Have you considered offering a mobile OBC?
Yeah, we’re very interested in that. We were about to launch mobile a couple of months ago and got interrupted by another project. I just got back from a mobile social networking conference (the best one so far) and was just taking a look at which approach would be the best one for OBC.
Where do you see OBC in a year and a half?
We hope to reach a broader audience and also grow considerably internationally. We reach users in the U.K., Canada, and Australia, but haven’t really spent time developing those contacts yet. That’s our next focus. That’s where we see the next wave of growth.