MUMBAI, INDIA: StepOut.com, formally known as Ignighter.com, is a New York based dating site, which gives users the feel of social networking and matrimony, has found more takers in India than the US.
Given the growing popularity among Indian users, which is over 97 per cent, the four year old tech start-up has already made India as its home and has even registered as an Indian company.
Started in 2008, the start-up went under a mentor-ship program and got Angel funds of $1.2 million. Early on the site got good response from urban population based in US cities, but by 2010 the team found that users from India were growing rapidly, beyond their imaginations.
”The growing number of Indian users and the potential market here forced us to rethink our future strategy and that’s when we decided to shift focus to India,” says Adam Sachs, StepOut.com’s Co-founder and CEO.
The count of over a million Indian users in 2010 was a strong indication for StepOut.com and its future.
”With India in focus, we firstly changed the portal’s home page with pictures of Indian users, then the team brought in some Indian mentors and investors like Google’s Ranjan Anand, Shasha Mirchandani of Kae Captial and Sanjay Guleria, CEO Exclusively.in, to help us setup the business here,” says Sachs.
While StepOut.com was heading to India, Sachs points that he had three challenges to overcome including, incorporate the site as an Indian company, hire people to build the company and explore the payment gateway mechanism for monetization.
In past few years, Sachs successfully overcame those challenges and finally has an office in Mumbai with a 15 member team and has seven people back in New York. The team of 25 works in collaborations in product development as well as managing the back end operations and services.
In terms of monetization, the portal offers some paid services such as unlocking of users, delivery of voice mails and ads.
Unlocking of users allows the person to communicate with the desired users on the portal, wherein he/she pays per user either on daily or monthly basis. Through ‘unlocking of users’ service the person can initiate and engage in long duration chats. This service was started a few months ago.
Voice mail allows users to send a voice message to other users but without revealing personal contacts. The application for this service is outsourced and the user is charged on duration of voice message or per minute basis.
StepOut.com’s API is also available on Facebook but Sachs comments, “Being on Facebook is very advantageous in terms number of users, their profiles and pictures but it doesn’t allow full control to us.”
In four years, StepOut.com has cross over 4 million user mark globally.
Today, the start-up has successfully raised over $ 6 million funds in the past four years and is focused on delivering safe and secure dating experiences to users.