Ever since I first discovered and used the Smooci.com platform, I have been very keen to interview the Smooci team to better understand their story. As I discussed the platform with other mongers, I saw a great interest and figured that an Interview with the Smooci Team would be a great opportunity to learn more about their platform and their experience dealing in this unique intersection of technology and sex.
For those who are not familiar with Smooci, you should read my review of Smooci along with my guide on how to have the best Smooci experience. It’ll provide you with some insight on the platform, its key features and how to best use it to enjoy a great experience.
One thing we found interesting is that a lot of the clients who book ladyboys tend to also book girls, and a lot of clients who have come to us primarily to book girls have gone on to book ladyboys too. We have never really marketed much towards ladyboy clients and only planned to launch a transgender option in Thailand as the initial agencies also managed ladyboys, but everywhere we’ve launched so far we’ve had clients ask us directly about adding ladyboys.Kal, Smooci Team
Have some questions I’ve missed? Feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll see if I can do a part two 🙂
Whats the origin story? How did Smooci start?
Our background is very much in software. We worked on a few projects in Bangkok and one of those was to build an agency management system for a group of busy Bangkok escort agencies. They had a lot of companions on their books and were more bookings than they could manage. We created an app and management dashboard which helped them see the escort’s live availability and location. When clients called they could quickly put the clients hotel into the system and it would show them exactly who was available for the time and place requested.
We then saw the potential in creating an open platform and giving the clients direct access to the system. We launched that in Bangkok as a side project at the end of 2016 and a few months in it was getting a bit of attention and we started to take it a seriously.
Tell me a bit about the team, your backgrounds and your vision.
We are a small team of friends who come from tech and creative backgrounds. We’ve worked together for about 10 years, and our goal was always to find a simple product which could disrupt a market and add something positive. That’s just about what Smooci is, but we never imagined we’d be working on a project in this industry.
Any interesting upside / downside of being the team behind the Smooci platform?
The fact that we came from a tech and creative angle and don’t have a lot of industry experience is probably a major pro and con. In short, we were able to see the initial industry issues with an outside perspective and apply a more neutral and objective approach. But on the flip side we’ve had to discover a few problems and hurdles the hard way, due to our initial lack of industry experience and contacts.
I think the fact we didn’t come from years in the industry was an advantage. Rather than having our own ideas of how things should be, it allowed us to fully take in the feedback from clients and companions and base our decisions and movements around that. We’ve reached out on several forums and received a lot of feedback from our users, thats where all the best ideas have come from.
A lot of the girls tell me that Smooci does not charge any amount from them. What is your business model? Is all your revenue dependent on premium memberships?
We try to keep monetizing and memberships very simple. We noticed a lot of escort directories creating complicated payment structures for girls, trying to squeeze out every penny. You’d see standard memberships, silver memberships, gold, platinum, rhubarb, it gets silly, just ways to push for more payments. A system which gives the highest payer the most exposure only adds to the problems we were seeing, and really doesn’t work in favour of the genuine clients or escorts, quite the opposite.
When we took Smooci on we wanted to build trust. Not just the illusion of trust, but make things fairer for everyone. We decided to copy the dating site model and pricing, keeping things simple and charging a low fee as well as offering a workable free option.
Clients and escorts can use Smooci for free, clients don’t even need to create a membership, and the paid memberships we offer are on a par with what you’d pay to join the average dating site, and we feel are very good value for regular users. No complicated membership levels, and no pay to rank or feature options.
Whats your vision going forward? Any interesting new features / ideas that are in the works?
At the moment we are focused on growing in Europe. There are still a few major features we want to develop, such as creating a few safety features for both parties and creating a more dynamic way of judging photos and leaving feedback, these are some things we feel will be important for our future, but at the moment our goal for this year is to get established in Europe to give us more stability as a brand and company.
We have done some recent soft launches in Kuala Lumpur and Macua, but we want to follow this up by getting a few launches in UK, Holland, Spain, and Germany over the next 6 months. We’ve done a lot of soft launches in Europe already but we have some big launches planned for the summer.
Fake photos, fake age, fake profiles, fake tits – Bangkok has a lot of fakes! What have been your challenges with trying to ensure that your customers are not shocked at the door?
To be honest, from our experience Bangkok hasn’t been that bad for fake profiles or bait and switch accounts, not compared to the other cities we have launched in. We’ve become wiser to spotting these account early, especially in Bangkok where every account needs to be approved and have their ID accepted before they can go online.
There’s a difference between abusing creative license and being fake. We understand that allowing people to have creative license in showing their best photos and selling a fantasy is an important part of the industry and experience, some companion do push this too far, to the point where their photo doesn’t give a realistic expectation of how they actually look. This is something we try to keep on top of and when we catch a companion abusing this we try to warn them and get them to use more accurate photos.
As far as fake photos and profiles go, there is no room for it on Smooci. We are lucky now that we have a strong reputation and escorts know that if they are honest and fair they will get a lot of bookings and can build a good reputation, but if they use pictures and profile information which isn’t them, they will not be on the site for long.
As you’ll expand all over the world – How are your tackling regulatory / legal issues?
Legality has been a priority for us from the begin. When we started to see the potential in Smooci we had to address our ethical and legal concerns. We believed we could do something positive, but we new we needed strong legal support and backing before giving Smooci a real go. We were lucky and found a UK based law firm which knew the escort industry extremely well. They gave us the support and confidence to start growing Smooci and we consult with local lawyers everywhere we launch, before pushing that launch. This means things have been slow with regards to out launch strategies, but we run every decision by our lawyers and make sure we always have local legal support.
Any crazy stories from the last few years of running and growing this platform?
None that we can really speak of here. I’m sure you know from experience there are a lot of colourful characters in the industry, especially in Bangkok. The feedback comments on the companion’s profiles can some times make for very interesting reading. They are all anonymous of course, but you some time see some over excited rants, which are very insightful.
What markets / regions are growing fastest for you’ll in 2019?
To be honest with you we don’t follow the global escort industry too closely, we do speak to a few other directories and share thoughts, but we try to base our future plans primarily on client feedback and demand.
We’ve seen a lot of growth and interest in Hong Kong lately, and we are looking to also launch in Macau this month. We’ve also had a lot of clients and companions ask us to launch in Kuala Lumpur, which we have just done. That might be of interest to a lot of Bangkok based clients, who use KL as an overnight visa run location.
In Europe, we are launching in Holland (Amsterdam/The Hague/Rotterdam) with a group of well respected agencies, and are currently in talks with a very big agency which is spread across Spain, so we are aiming for big things in both those countries this Summer.
Any interesting insights about customer sexual preferences? Any correlation between countries, preferences towards girl sizes, bust size, etc?
We don’t really over analyse that data as we don’t target and recruit the companions, so in terms of the agencies and companions you find on Smooci they tend to come to us and after vetting them we get them on-board.
One thing we found interesting is that a lot of the clients who book ladyboys tend to also book girls, and a lot of clients who have come to us primarily to book girls have gone on to book ladyboys too. We have never really marketed much towards ladyboy clients and only planned to launch a transgender option in Thailand as the initial agencies also managed ladyboys, but everywhere we’ve launched so far we’ve had clients ask us directly about adding ladyboys.