Sramana: How many men and women do you have in your network of sites today?
Brandon Wade: Across the various sites we have close to three million members. There are 1.7 million profiles on SeekingArrangement alone. We have launched that website in German, Spanish, and French and it is becoming successful internationally as well. We have been throwing parties in New York, and we just launched a party in London earlier this summer. It was a sold-out event. The next party we are throwing will be in Los Angeles, and it is called “The Fifty Shades and L.A.”
The party is in light reference to the book “Fifty Shades of Grey,” [which is the first in a trilogy of erotic novels by E.L. James.] That book has been good to us. It is the story of a successful man. We found that more than 12% of the people who came to our website did so because they were reading the book. A lot of people read this novel and realize that relationships like that do exist and that they can exist on our website. That has led to a lot of new members.
With the parties, we are taking the concept away from just an online dating website. We are turning it into real life events in various cities so that people can come to an event and meet real people. We charge people to attend these parties.
Sramana: What is the ratio like at these parties?
Brandon Wade: The ratio remains 1 [man] to 10 [women].
Sramana: Where are you based out of?
Brandon Wade: I am based out of Las Vegas now. When I started the business, I was in San Francisco. I locked myself in the bedroom for a month to build it myself. After I launched, I needed to hire people and I realized that I was competing against Google and Facebook. It was very tough to find good people when you are competing with those people. Las Vegas is a good place. The state is friendly to startups. There is talent here. The resources I have been able to hire are quality resources, and I have been able to keep them.
Sramana: How many people do you have?
Brandon Wade: I have 12 full-time employees. The development group designs new services and websites. I have a team that does publicity and marketing. We also have an affiliate program that needs to be managed. I also have a team based out of Ukraine that does all of our customer support and the administrative duties of the website.
Sramana: Have you taken any outside financing?
Brandon Wade: I have self-funded the entire business.
Sramana: Are you having a good time doing this business?
Brandon Wade: I am having an amazing time doing this. It is a lot of fun. I am getting to experience a lot of different things.
Sramana: You do realize you are a strange bird, right? You are not the normal MIT geek!
Brandon Wade: The funny thing is that the MIT Tech recently wrote a story about me, and they called me the dark side of an MIT mind. That was a bit offensive to me.
Sramana: I don’t think this is a dark side. I think this is an identification of reality that people may not want to face. They may not want to look it in the eye, but this segment of women exists. They want to marry rich, successful, stable men. That is reality.
Brandon Wade: Exactly. I think that this has been good for business and good for me.