OPW INTERVIEW - Feb 26 - AForeignAffair is an International dating service that connects women from Russia, Latin America and Asia with guys around the world. John Adams is the CEO and Founder. I asked him about the genesis and nature of his company. - Mark Brooks
What is the founding story of AForeignAffair?
AForeignAffair started in 1995 by myself, Ken Agee, and Ron Redburn. Back then newspapers had personal ads where women were seeking men, men seeking women, but you never really knew what the people looked like. We thought it would be great to put photos out there so people could actually see a photo before they meet.
We launched on the BBS system thinking we would do it locally in Phoenix. Then we discovered the Internet, and we thought: “Wow we can do this on a global basis.” We sent Ken to Russia to see if there was going to be any interest from the women to meet Americans. He was very pleased with the reception that he got there. That was kind of the beginning and we started first in St. Petersburg, Russia and Ukraine and then Colombia and all over.
This seems like a very different industry than the Internet dating industry. How would you define it?
I would call it the International introduction industry. For people to be successful they're going to have to travel outside the county. I think there is a lot of ignorance in that. Once you start looking at the men and the women who use this, a lot of that ignorance melts away and you understand that these are just normal people trying to find that special someone.
What countries are you in?
We are in Russia, Ukraine, Peru, Cost Rica, Columbia, China, Dominican Republic, and others.
It really seems like the opposite of Internet dating, because most Internet daters don't want to travel more than 20 miles.
According to studies, these relationships tend to last longer than domestic relationships. One of the reasons for that is the fact that it does take more effort, it does take more commitment to make something like this work.
So how's your National Geographic promotion happening?
We've always been open to the media. National Geographic is just another step in that progression of opening access and trying to illuminate this industry.
They did a wonderful job. I was there... Nothing was scripted, everything was as you see it. They had three separate crews, they were following the guys as they were going on the different dates, they were filming the dates, the socials, the reactions after the dates. Some were good and some were bad. It's not all fairy dust and blue birds singing around your head. It's about going over there and having options. You still have to make something happen.
What do you think this industry is going to look like in 5 years time? What's your vision of the future for AForeignAffair?
I think it is going to become more mainstream. Our world is becoming smaller every day; we can communicate so much easier and it's instant and transparent. In order to be successful, you have to provide more customer service to both the men and the women, and more functionality. Not just introducing them, but helping them through the whole dating process, and helping them to be successful in marrying.
How do you think the idating industry can work with this industry? There must be a way for the two to work together.
I think there is. We've talked to some of the local matchmaking companies, some of the more traditional ones, and we are still in talks with some. Partnering with us will allow them to offer more options to their clients.