Digital Content Muthuu Kagio is not as flirty as you would expect. And after several market surveys, he fell in love with mobile dating and he is glad he did. The response was an overwhelming text messages on the first day, not a small number for a start-up trying to find a spot in a community where dating is for the most part sacred and secretive. The other SMS services he tried only got an average of 20 responses a day, he says.
Mr Kagio says the dating service was the result of his innovation and is the latest in the growing roaster of SMS value-added services that are rolled off the two networks by the day. His is purely an entertainment service and one must be 18 years and above to be registered. Mobile virtual dating services allow men and women to create a profile, search for dates and start conversations through SMS messages.
The application developed by Narob Systems enables users to meet potential partners by just sending a simple SMS. To get started, you have to register by sending an SMS containing your name, age, gender and your preferred task.
For instance, "Reg Muthuu 30 M looking for a serious partner," then send the message to a premium number Reg is shorthand for registration. Once registered, to find a date you are required to SMS back the qualities you are looking for including age, gender and any other specifications.
As a member, the service allows you to send as many SMS messages as you wish until you get your match. Mr Kagio says other than the registration message that costs Sh40 subsequent ones are charged at the normal SMS rate of Sh5. Just to prove how the search for love is big business, the service rakes in Sh, in a good month. So far, Narob has smitten just over 10, people who interact through the service.
Income is determined by the number of texts send by the members, because mobile phone service provider Safaricom pays him a commission depending on the volume of SMSes passed across. He currently gets a commission of Sh15 for every SMS send by a new date-hungry member. Mr Kagio is looking to increasing the number of subscribers to more than 50, by year end. The year-old businessman who tried the same service in America, where he went to college, says even though the job is challenging he loves the experience.
And for those who think it a jokers' club, Mr Kagio says has research findings that shatters that perception. He plans to try his luck again on mobile shopping, the first of its kind in the country, where people can buy and sell goods through their cell-phones. The market is not too small, he says, and can to be nurtured to grow. A mobile is a personal gadget and is convenient," he says. He, however, bemoans the high cost of running such services, especially charges by local mobile providers.
To cut down on costs, Mr Kagio says the company's server running the SMS service is hosted in America where it is cheaper.