OPW INTERVIEW - Aug 17 - It puzzles me that more dating sites aren’t offering anonymous calling services. Some of the solutions have been lackluster, I know. But some pretty large players have been offering anonymous calling for years. Courtland Brooks is advising Spikko. Here’s what the CEO, Haim Cohen-Mintz had to say. - Mark Brooks
Can you tell us Spikko's founding story?
We have been around for seven years, and during those seven years we’ve focused on creating a telephony environment. A year ago, we saw an opportunity within the dating industry of providing anonymous calling services and we’ve developed a product around that.
The industry's actually seen a couple companies like this in the past. Twilio and Jajah serve FriendFinder and Match.com. What does Spikko offer?
We tried to differentiate our offerings. We did some market research on the need for anonymous calling, and we found that there was quite a big hole within the industry. Companies that implemented anonymous calling were actually very happy. The products were generating additional revenues, driving people to upgrade their subscriptions. We developed a turnkey service that is much easier to implement.
Larger internet dating companies have implemented and stuck with anonymous calling, but a lot of the smaller companies just haven't tried it. Why, is it so difficult?
Implementing using a service like Twilio is quite complicated because Twilio offers a telephony system that a programmer needs to define and then implement. For example, just to make a call under our service, all you need to do is register a user then set a divert number.
We're an enabler. It's up to the dating site to figure out how much they want to charge the users, whether they want to bundle it with other services or do it as a standalone type of service. In the U.S. we will charge $0.03 per minute, so the website can charge a significantly larger amount.
What happened with Jajah?
Two things... Jajah worked on a rev share model, and the websites didn't feel like paying for unused minutes. The second thing that happened was that Jajah was acquired by Telefónica, and they had bigger fish to fry. The dating industry fell off their radar.
A couple companies switched over from Jajah to Twilio. Why was that?
The companies that switched over to Twilio were the companies that already had the Jajah product. They knew exactly how the product worked, they knew exactly their requirements, they copied nearly every feature they implemented at the time, and they also have a lot of fire-power in terms of programming.