OPW - Dec 30 - Mektoube.fr is a dating site dedicated to the Muslim and Maghreb community in France. We have interviewed its founders Laouari Medjebeur and Thomas Nomaksteinsky. (See full version in French).
Mektoube.fr has constantly expanded since it was launched in 2006, how do you see its future in France?
We are still expanding. Half of our new members come by word-of-mouth.
For any markets, the short-term future is on mobiles. Currently, 20% of our traffic comes from our Web application. We are developing platforms for Android and iPhone.
The online dating market is experiencing a massive growth, how is Mektoube.fr different from others?
French niche market, as well as the French web itself, is fairly specific. Most of the dating sites are too small and will not reach a significant size. There aren’t many major dating sites. There is jDate but it is run by an American company. There is nothing for the Black community.
Mektoube’s users are part of the French Maghreb “community”, although this is not one group but French people of North-African origins, who share common traditions.
Mektoube.fr is currently number one dating site for the Muslim and Maghreb community, how do you promote the site?
We ran a casting via Facebook to find our next models for our advertising campaign.
We also launched a TV commercial campaign in July and it worked well, so we’ll probably do this again.
The "communitarian drifting" potential issue has been raised. How do you respond to these concerns?
The development of websites aiming at communities has raised questions regarding any potential communitarian drifting. Mektoube.fr itself saw one of their advertising campaigns rejected because of the risks implied by possible misunderstandings over the contents of the ad itself. Yet Mektoube.fr never used, and will never use, religion as a commercial argument.
What are your projects at an international level?
Mektoube.fr will soon be launched in North African countries.
Your website mostly aims at French people originally from the Maghreb area, how are you planning to export the concept around Europe?
As for Europe, the Maghreb diaspora is a phenomenon specific to France, other countries mostly having only first or second generations of migrants. The Maghreb diaspora in Belgium has a similar structure as in France, but the market is too small to justify a move.
Both of you are experienced entrepreneurs. According to you, what’s specific to the online dating industry compared to other Internet based activities?
The online dating industry is not so different from any other e-shops: it’s important to gain new users so that the members have a wide range of choice.
There are two major points that make the online dating market different. It is more difficult to sell a service that implies feelings than actual goods. On the other hand, good e-shops can build on costumer loyalty, whereas dating site users will not come back once they have found love. As a result, the goal is to provide the best services possible so that the word-of-mouth brings more members in.