What's your background?
In 2006, I dropped out of high school to start Beats4Real. It was a Netflix for Hip Hop Beats where music artists can download unlimited beats for a monthly subscription. I learned the art of marketing and, a few years later, became a marketing consultant for numerous startups around the world.
Which was the most unusual company that you learned the most from?
I've learned most from individuals than any particular company. Some of the people who've had an influence on me were Seth Godin, Howard Stern, Eminem, Kanye West and Steve Jobs.
What's the genesis/founding story of LoveRoom?
When me and my girlfriend moved to LA about a year ago, we used Airbnb to rent our apartment to make some extra money. Our listing wasn't attracting many people so I uploaded a picture of my girlfriend and raised the price to make the listing more attractive. Soon we started getting reservations at $80 a night. A month later, I created a landing page for LoveRoom that described the site as a place where you can rent your room out to attractive people. I was meant to say "single people" but this misuse of words got us a ton of press. 48 hours later, my inbox was full of reporters asking me for interviews about LoveRoom. After the site went live, we started getting thousands of signups.
We aim to help single people find love by sharing the room first. It's a new concept and it's a little scary, but in a world where most marriages end in divorce in just a few years, I think it's worth trying something new.
Was it the price change, or the photo of your hot girlfriend? Did you try testing each change individually?
It was certainly the photo. I've tried a price change before and it made little difference.
What's the reality of how LoveRoom works?
If you live alone or are traveling somewhere soon, you'll go on the site and search for people who are looking to share a room. Some people are looking for a room while others are offering their rooms. You can't send anyone a message unless they accept your friend request. If your request is approved, you start to have a conversation. If there's chemistry, you would then set up a time and place to meet. This is done manually through private messaging, there is no booking system on LoveRoom. It's like a Couchsurfing meets OkCupid.
Isn't there a misconception here among press and users that they may be renting a room for free in exchange for sexual favors. What proportion of users are male and female?
Based on the conversations I've had with users, I don't think any of them are treating the site as a way to rent a room in exchange for sexual favors. On the site, users must include their intentions on their profile. We let them choose between "Friends", "Casual Dating", "Serious Relationship" or "Roommate". We also have a "You and I" section where users can be a little more specific about the arrangement. The ratio is 70% males /30% females.
How do you defend users from prostitutes on the site?
We have a report system that users can use to inform us of any such activity going on.
How's the site growing at this stage?
We've gotten over 10,000 users in the last 6 months. We're growing at about 50 signups a day. We expect to get more people signing up once the iOS and Android app is released.
How are you getting the word out?
It has all been organic. We've spent no money on marketing or PR.
How do you make money?
We're not making money yet but we're planning on offering in-app purchases when the app is released.