OPW INTERVIEW - Jan 11 - Johnny Du runs 51taonan. Turns out, the Chinese like free dating as much as the West. Here's Johnny's story. - Mark Brooks
What's the founding story?
51taonan was founded in January 2011 in China. We wanted to leverage from the significant business opportunities in the online dating industry in China. There's no major free dating site in China and so we wanted to take and own that position in China. Currently most dating site in China are paid dating sites. The first year has been very successful with high rates of user acquisition, and a reasonable conversion from registered users to active users. In less than two years, without much marketing 51taonan has gained over 3.5 million registered users. In May this year, we were the first dating company in China to introduce a location based mobile internet dating service, which supports smart phones such as Android, IOS, Symbian, blackberry. Now we have over 250K mobile internet users.
We're now the No.1 free dating site in China. Overall, in China, we're ranked the No.4 dating site, after JiaYuan, Baihe and Zhenai.
Would you say you’re the Plentyoffish of China?
POF is currently the No.1 free dating site in North America and UK. We're the No.1 free dating site in China in terms of the status in the market, so yes its fair to say we're the POF of China.
How is 51taonan different from POF?
POF is a very successful and mature company. We like the POF business model and want to duplicate its successes into China. However, we're a pretty young startup company with serveral million users.
We're still exploring ways to monetize. We want to learn from POF and all other successful free dating companies. Our ultimate goal is to provide a totally free dating services to Chinese users in a successful way.
What does the name 51taonan mean?
The numbers 5 and 1, means I want. Tao means find and get. Then nan means man. So 51taonan means I want to find/get a man. Women find this amusing and seem to like it a lot.
How fast is 51taonan growing?
We have about 100K users signing up at our site each month. We're seeing the hottest growth coming from mobile internet as well as 2nd and 3rd tier cities in China.
How are you monetizing?
Right now, advertising is the major source of our income. We're also looking for any other innovative ways to monetize.
Are you looking for funding?
Yes, absolutely! In order to continue our growth, we're looking for outside investment, with a focus on 'smart money.'
(Disclosure: 51taonan and POF are clients of Courtland Brooks)