You can decide for yourself at the end of this post, but before you do I will tell you where the title of this post refers to. I had the pleasure of talking to Russel Craig, VP director of Brand and Marketing of funkysexycool.com
FunkySexyCool is a mobile social dating service aimed at young adults (18-35 years). It started a few years ago in Australia and has expanded to a number of different countries, including Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Austria and in 2007 the USA. During this expansion approximately 200K users signed up and the development team decided to spent time on ensuring the architecture would be able to scale along with the growing community.
FunkySexyCool aims at a very specific niche in social networking. They call it social dating. There are many on-line dating sites, but the target audience of FunkySexyCool finds these dating sites too serious and too expensive. FunkySexyCool has social networking elements it but the service differs from giants like Facebook and MySpace in two important ways:
- The service is entirely centered around flirting and dating
- The service is a mobile social network instead of a web-based social networking
What does the service offer?
Right now the service lets a user upload pictures of himself and lets any user rate these pictures with Funky, Sexy or Cool. You might wonder, is that it? Well, it turns out that rating and be rated helps the users socialize and get to know each other. It lowers the boundary to get into contact. For example, as soon as you upload a profile picture, other users will rate it. If someone finds you Sexy, and you rate this person as Sexy too, then it lowers the threshold to get into contact and message each other.
For this reason FunkySexyCool has chosen the path of becoming a mobile social dating service. Flirting and dating isn’t something people will do in the open. Being able to use the service on your mobile, which is a personal device, helps the user to flirt and date@@ without friends, family or colleagues seeing you.
It is a difficult business to get into. Not because of the service or its proposition, but because technology and data plans often get in the way. FunkySexyCool works on most WAP browsers. They have taken a lot of time ensuring the mobile web experience works on most mobile devices. Right now they support 10 different languages and nearly every type of web enabled mobile phone.
Business mode and competition
I asked Russel about possible competition. He says that there are a few successful mobile dating services such as flirtomatic.com and crushorflush.com. I haven’t tried these services out, but they seem to be more web enabled with SMS features. FunkySexyCool has a pure focus on mobile. Facebook, MySpace aren’t really competition for FunkySexyCool right now. While these giant social networks do have a lot of the target audience as users, the services aren’t specifically aimed at flirting and dating. |Russel believes that in the coming years niche social networks, aimed at one specific feature will become more important. They want to become a major mobile flirting and dating service.
FunkySexyCool will experiment with both advertisement, subscriptions and the Freemium business model. Already there are (one off) payed services, such as the ability to rank a large group of people at once, be noticed by others, obtain a super status etc. Advertisement is more tricky. Russel doesn’t want to stop at just serving ads, as he believes that this won’t work well on any social network. But the mobile component does give them a possible edge when it comes to advertisement. Russel and his team are already thinking about new ways to use advertisement in such a way that it will provide the user with value. He gives the example of a user who has tagged his picture/profile with a specific brand of Jeans. Using localization this person could be served a discount ad for this brand of Jeans when he is near a store that sells them.
I think that FunkySexyCool is a pretty smart concept. Bringing flirting and dating into the personal mobile space is a good approach. By focusing on the mobile experience, instead of trying to be a web service, they are already positioning themselves as a mobile service. And the mobile space is the arena where next generation on-line services will fight out the battle for world domination.
The challenges for this service will be both technology and to get people to find and use this service, as they do not have a strong web presence yet. Technology wise, they will need to keep investing in mobile technology as more handsets and platforms appear. Making the service work seamlessly from each country provides its own technological challenges. Billing is also an important issue to solve. Right now users can pay via premium SMS services (common in Europe), and in the case of Germany, FunkySexyCool has an agreement with Vodafone, ensuring the costs for the user are billed through his mobile phone subscription.
Finding and convincing users to use the service is another challenge. It is difficult to set up agreements with Mobile Operators for distribution purposes. At the same time, the incredible user pools of both MySpace and Facebook will provide FunkySexyCool endless possibilities to attract these users to their service. Instead of being competitors, these giant Social Networks might just prove to be excellent distribution platforms.
So, be honest, what do you think? Am I Funky, Sexy or Cool 😉