Women in control at new SA online dating site

Smokoo founder sees “huge opportunity” in online dating in South Africa

By - May 15, 2012
AdoptHim logo

Smokoo founder Thomas Pays has revealed that his next venture is AdoptHim, an online dating service that claims to empower women.

“Women get a lot of abuse on dating sites,” Pays told MyBroadband during a recent interview.

Most sites offer you the ability to block stalkers and perverts from contacting you, Pays said, but they don’t stop people from viewing your profile.

AdoptHim aims to put the woman in control of her profile as well as who is allowed to interact with her.

Rather than blocking the suitors that offend them, women instead have to give the man consent to contact them.

Men can interact with women by sending a virtual gift, but other than that they’ll need to create an impressive profile to attract the attention of female subscribers, said Pays.

Thomas Pays

Thomas Pays, founder of AdoptHim

Registration is free for women, but men have to buy a subscription to the site, and can choose between a number of subscription options:

  • Monthly: R149 (5 free credits)
  • 3 months: R387 (30 free credits)
  • 6 months: R714 (60 free credits)
  • 12 months: R1,188 (120 free credits)

Credits are used to buy gifts which are available for between 5 (Rose) and 200 (“I love you”) credits.

Pays said that the site is lesbian-, gay-, and bisexual-friendly as well, allowing users to select whether they are interested in men, women, or both.

He explained that the process of giving consent to the suitor by “adopting” them is exactly the same for same-sex matches as it is for heterosexual matches.

AdoptHim subscriptions and credit packs

AdoptHim subscriptions and credit packs

Pays’ foray into online dating is a departure from his previous venture, a penny auction website called Smokoo, which he confirmed was sold “a few weeks ago.”

AdoptHim has been in development for the past year, Pays said, with the intention of providing solid competition in South Africa’s online dating space.

According to Pays, the dating sites already operating in South Africa are only interested in making money and are not focusing on making customers happy.

Unlike the online auction and news space, Pays said, there isn’t a dominant player in online dating yet. “There is huge potential and a huge gap in the market,” Pays said. “No-one is really doing their job.”

Tongue-in-cheek, Pays added that this time round they don’t need a license to operate and will hopefully not run afoul of the Consumer Protection Act.

Pays was jokingly referring to Smokoo, which as a penny auction site, was considered online gambling by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Gambling institutions require a license in South Africa, but the DTI has not yet made it possible for online gambling sites to get such a license. As such it is illegal to run a gambling site in South Africa.

AdoptHim gifts and credit costs

AdoptHim gifts and credit costs

Asked whether the Smokoo staff had followed him to AdoptHim, Pays said that the core team had joined the new venture. The only difference, he said, is that Smokoo used to outsource development.

AdoptHim now has in-house developers, Pays said, which lets them do whatever they want. “In the next few weeks we’ll be launching a better version of the site,” Pays said.

They aim to include video and are considering implementing the ability to send real gifts, like a bouquet of flowers.

Pays said that some of the obvious considerations for such a feature is that they can’t make delivery details of their users known. This means that they would have to handle the sending of such gifts themselves.

AdoptHim launched on 12 May 2012 and is only available to South Africans for the moment.

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