OPW INTERVIEW - Sep 29 - Seda lives in L.A. and operates PembePanjur, which is the nearest thing to eHarmony in Turkey. - Mark Brooks
PembePanjur translates to “pink shutters”. What does it mean?
People say that when they grow up they want to get married and live in a house with pink shutters. It’s a cultural and traditional terminology in Turkey. You can find the term in the movies, etc. We grabbed the cultural term and used it as the name of our company, which is based on serious relationships and marriage.
You’re based in LA and you’re UCLA educated. You’re an interactive marketer and designer. Why are you interested in matchmaking?
I have a degree in Sociology. I got into interactive design and marketing just before I came to the USA and got more education in marketing. My partner is a developer and we were working on a project. We were talking about starting an online dating site.
What is your target demographic?
Our target is 30-40 year old young professionals.
Do you like eHarmony?
Yes. We looked into the serious dating sites in more depth and then adopted the model to the Turkish culture and traditions and that’s how we came up with Pembepanjur two years ago. eHarmony was a major site that we looked into.
How many questions do you have and what line of questioning do you use on the site?
We have a combination of about 130 questions. 64 cover social and economic background and 64 are personality analysis. Our service is based upon compatibility, basically character analysis.
Did you pull on your background in Sociology or more of a Psychological profile?
It’s Sociology but the questions are not done by us. We hired a psychologist and she prepared the questions based on other worldwide known questionnaires then it was adapted into Turkish.
There are some challenges working with the Turkish market in terms of billing and regulatory issues. Can you tell us more about some of the challenges you had to overcome?
We didn’t have many regulatory problems. The biggest problems we had were the merchant accounts with the banks. Turkey still has a pretty conservative society which is reflected in the banking system. It took a while to open a merchant account. Trusting a dating site service was not on the top of their list.
You are two years in, how many members do you have?
We are 1 year and 9 months in and we have over 350, 000 active members.
How do you market the service?
We have been doing online marketing so far i.e. facebook. In the last two months we did our first public relations campaign such as TV/radio and we were also in the Sunday paper in Turkey. This is just the beginning for us; we believe doing PR is the best way to promote.
Did you see an immediate jump or was it more over a period of time?
It was an immediate jump. The day after the article in the Sunday paper our revenue went up quite a bit.
What did you do to get the attention?
We had been building relationships with a big funding company in Turkey created by the top 18 online giants. They selected us as one of the top 3 Internet projects of 2011 so that’s how we started to get the press attention.