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Aug. 27, 2012: San Diego Business Journal
SERVICE: Luvia.com Seeks Share of Market with Its Billing Model
|Luvia.com hopes to challenge the bigger players in the online matchmaking world with its micropayment system. Its two founders are seeking additional capital for expansion.|
What price does one pay to find that match made in heaven?
La Jolla entrepreneurs Sunmeet Gill and Ravinder Singh believe that the prices for finding a mate on matching dating sites Match.com and eHarmony.com are too high.
So , the two launched dating site Luvia.com in June, in which users purchase "LuvNotes" with each valued at 1 cent, to communicate with each other at the site.
If one Luvia member wants to contact another member, for example, he or she can spend up to 25 cents if the profile of the other member is complete, or spend less if the profile is not complete.
The site credits users with LuvNotes if they have fully completed profiles, which will draw more interest from others than partially completed profiles, said co-founder Gill.
It's a pay-to-play approach using micropayments, he said, a system increasingly found in the world of social media, especially gaming.
"We're different from the subscription model that exits," said Gill. "What we have introduced is a very flexible payment model so that people are not shut out because they have to spend a lot of money."
He said Match.com charges $237 for a six-month subscription, while eHarmony charges $60 a month, or about $240 for a year subscription.
Gill explained that the micropayment model, adopted by many online gaming sites, is increasingly gaining traction, and he thinks the company will be successful in the online dating realm by using this model.
"The user doesn't have to pay huge amounts of money, and not get results," he said.
Just over 30 percent of San Diego's 1.3 million residents are single, while about 34 percent of the Bay Area's 9 million residents are single.
He said 100 million Americans are single, but only 40 percent of those are online, a percentage that will grow in coming years.
Once the company has established the market in the Bay Area, they plan to move on to Chicago and New York, as well as other cities in the U.S.
Co-founders: Sunmeet Gill and Ravinder Singh.
Revenue: Not disclosed.
No. of local employees: 10.
Headquarters: San Diego, UTC area.
Year founded: 2012.
Company description: Pay-as-you-go, micropayment model for a dating site.
The two founders are currently seeking seed capital to add to money that they have invested into the company. Gill said the two have been in touch with seed-found sources Tech Coast Angels, as well as similar funds in Northern California.
Gill declined to say how many users have signed up so far, but he said that the site is generating revenue.
Gill and Singh are taking on a big challenge, but believe that by using micropayments rather than monthly fees they can gain traction in an arena dominated by four big players that command half of the $2 billion spent in 2011 to find true love.
One troublesome sign: IBISWorld, a market research firm, says the market grew only 1 percent in 2011 as the market slows and consolidates.
Nevertheless, Gill and Singh believe there is room for new entrants.
One in five couples has met online, said Gill, and the ratio is growing as meeting online becomes more socially acceptable.
Return to: 2012 Feature Stories