An Australian startup is turning to the adult services industry in an attempt to monetise its service.
Mate of Mine, founded by Dane Westerweller, aims to link adult entertainers, topless waiters and waitresses, grid girls, glamour models and promotional models directly with clients, without the need for a booking agency.
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Westerweller launched Mate of Mine in January 2011, a service which describes itself as a “social business engine”.
It’s an online local business directory powered by Facebook that allows users to find a range of local businesses, from tradespeople to photographers, which are trusted by their Facebook friends.
However, he says while Mate of Mine has over 8000 members and about 50,000 businesses listed it’s been difficult to monetise the site.
It offers a modest $20 fee for a premium subscription, which enables businesses on the site to have flashier listings.
“It’s been very difficult to get users to pay anything for their businesses,’’ he says.
“It’s really quite surprising that people won’t spend ($20) on their businesses.”
So Westerweller decided to go another route, he decided to develop a method which allows users to make bookings with people offering adult services on Mate of Mine – not including escort services, without the need to go through a booking agency.
Westerweller who has worked as a striper himself says it gives people offering those services a chance at a bigger cut of the profits.
Mate of Mine sends a text message to whoever made the listing requesting confirmation of a booking time and takes a 10% commission on bookings.
The service launched two weeks ago and has had $10,000 worth of bookings in Sydney over that period.
“It’s a hard market to tap into, we’re not ultimately offering sex services, we’re operating party services, but some people want to steer clear,’’ he says.
“PayPal actually banned my application to take payments.
“We’ve been trying to find a new payment system, there’s a lot out there but they’re quite expensive, because they call them high risk payments.”
Mate of Mine has teamed up with a number of adult agencies in the United States and has a number of porn stars using the service to book appearances.
Westerweller hopes to secure investment overseas.
“The whole thing is, basically, sex sells,’’ he says.