The Love Industry

Since today is Valentine’s day, it would be appropriate of me to play along with the mainstream world and celebrate love in some way. Since I’m not good at making poetry or some sort, I’ll just do a case study regarding The Love Industry in the digital era [Bummer]. I’m not much of a fan of dating site like and eHarmony because it just wouldn’t work in Indonesia. People use Facebook to search dating opportunities so vigorously that there’s no other market for a specialized dating site. But one site caught my attention: Badoo.

Badoo started at 2006 as an online network for meeting new people (they refused to be called a dating site). They are very successful building a massive 130 million registered users with over $100 million in revenue per year. It’s the 4th biggest social network in the world. They only took about $30 million in funding and doesn’t need anymore rounds until now. Let’s analyze them step by step and see what made them successful.

Solve the problem, don’t join the trend

Facebook is really good at connecting people you already know but it’s a terrible place to meet new people. I hate adding people I don’t know on Facebook because it’s just so annoying to see their news feed on my timeline. Facebook just wasn’t built to accomodate meeting new people. That’s where Badoo comes in. As quoted from Techcrunch:

Back in 2006, Badoo saw Facebook’s explosive growth and instead of trying to compete, it differentiated by focusing something Facebook wasn’t — helping strangers connect. Startups shouldn’t think about what’s fun or interesting, but should identify a widespread problem that isn’t already being addressed by another company. For example, helping people capture the beauty from their every day lives sounds fun, but Instagram has that mostly covered, and there’s not much more of a problem to solve in photo sharing.

They saw the hype, they reach the opportunity by doing things differently. Fair enough.

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Engaging non-disruptive business model

Unlike other sites, they don’t throw you massive annoying ads. In fact I haven’t seen a single ad on the site, so how do they monetize? Here’s the interesting part. Their business model is member exposure. Now imagine this, you’re from Jakarta and you’ve just registered. The first thing you do after registration (aside from filling up your profile) is find out the singles in your city right? Let’s say your type is black tall girls in her 20s. The problem is, there’s a lot of black tall girls in Jakarta. Which one do Badoo put first on the search result? Well if you just registered then you rank number 1 in your characteristics class, as other people register you go down the rank. How do you stay on top? You pay a small sum of money to ‘Rise Up’. Plain and simple, super addictive and works like a charm.

Rise Up is just one of many ‘Super Powers’ that you can buy when using Badoo. You can buy access to see who visits your profile, have an advance search, know the status of your message (whether they’ve been read or not), do customizable profile page, visit other people profile incognito and many more. The site flows nicely on introducing all these features that it doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed by them. It’s Gamification done right!

Using Facebook wisely

Badoo explodes in Facebook by making a question app. The questions are simple like “Would that girl go out with this guy” or “Would you be interested in these activity” and such. Questions that you want to ask to your special friends but afraid to ask directly. By putting this on your wall you get to invite friends to answer the same questions and you get to see their answer. The app has been localized to a lot of native languages to support global expansion. It’s a brilliant viral tactics although it may be a bit spammy in the end.

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The result was fantastic, they took a meteoric rise going to about 4.8 million daily users with a massive growth in Mexico, France, Italy, Turkey, Philippines and surprisingly Indonesia.

In short, they do these 3 things right: They have an awesome product that fits the market, created engaging non-disruptive business models and gain major attraction on an already famous social platform. Genius!

BONUS: Here’s an article on Wired describing in details about Badoo. A very interesting read if you wish to get to know the founder’s background a bit better.

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Aria Rajasa

Aria Rajasa Masna is a passionate businessman with an knack for design, casual fashion and also digital industry. Currently positioned as the head honcho of and Doing his best challenging the impossible on the daily basis.

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