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“I’m all about this concept of a buyer and a seller, and trying to provide a value-added center that sits in the middle of it and brings people together.”

Founder amd CEO of Meetcha

Interview by Mike Sullivan of Sully’s Blog

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Jeffrey C. Taylor is the Founder and CEO of Meetcha.com, a unique social dating site.  Jeff is also the Founder and Chairman of Tributes.com, eons.com, and the Founder and former CEO of Monster.com.  He serves on the Board of Directors of Boston’s Citi Center for the Performing Arts and Board of Advisors of Berklee College of Music. Jeff holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; a Certificate-Owner/President Management (OPM) Program, Executive Education, Harvard Business School; and an Honorary Doctorate from Bentley College. Jeff has been an avid Deejay for more than 30 years under the name Jefr Tale. He has a weekly show on Sirius/XM (Area) on Sunday nights.

Meetcha.com, founded in 2009, targets the 40 and over single social scene.  It differs from other traditional dating services.  People can meet one-on-one, but there is also the PODS (People Out Doing Stuff) approach where matching that takes place results in groups of people with similar interests having get-togethers.  This eliminates the pressures that go along with first time dates and provides for a good time.  With older people being the fastest growing demographic in online dating, Meetcha.com is a perfect fit.

MO:
Meetcha.com is somewhat of an offshoot of eons.com, your successful online social network for boomers.  What was the impetus behind the idea for this dating platform?  Have eons.com members been among those who embraced the idea?

Founded by Jeffrey Taylor

Jeffrey:
We discovered after a few years of running eons.com that about 60% of our active users, and about 70% of the engagement was coming from singles meeting other singles.  We purposely didn’t have the traditional dating site tools built into Eons, like the ability to flirt, as it was built as a social network and not a dating site. But there was definitely a need there, and that really was the impetus for Meetcha. Our sweet spot is really in the 40s demo, and it made sense to invite the Eons community into both the alpha and beta test of Meetcha along with the general public. Most other social networks are about who you know, your friends, your family, your business connections. Eons has always been about who you don’t know but who shares your interests, passions, experiences and life stage, and this is something we are cultivating on Meetcha.com as well with our dating platform.

MO:
The PODS approach to dating would seem, to me, to be the most popular feature of the site.  Not only is it less pressure on people and eliminates the fears associated with first time, one-on-one dating, but it’s also an opportunity to meet more people.  Am I correct?

Meetcha Welcome Video HD from Matt Watson on Vimeo.

Jeffrey:

We had several groups that formed organically out of the Eons community that bridged the online and offline experience quite well. One of these groups, the GRINs, was formed as a way for members of regional groups to meet up in “real life” after getting to know each other online. The name refers to the idea that you can’t stop grinning when you finally meet these people in person.

The PODS approach, which is an acronym for People Out Doing Stuff, was a natural evolution of this concept. In a sense, it’s about the difference between “dating” and “dateability”. Dating in this age group traditionally means spending two hours at dinner with someone that you may or may not like. The idea of dating in groups with people you share interests with is something that kept coming up when we talked to people, as a fun, less-pressured alternative to this traditional idea of dating. It is a way to gauge the dateability of several people in one night, which will hopefully lead to more successful dates down the line. Currently our team creates all of our PODS, but our goal is to continue to build out the PODS platform to be able to customize for all types of events.

MO:
The profile apps make setting up a profile quick, easy and one of the most intuitive processes I have seen.  What other investments have you made to keep the process simple and why is that important?

Jeffrey:
The number one feature that you encounter when you come to Meetcha.com is the passions and interests grid. We discovered from our work running Eons that at this stage in your life you have more clearly defined your passions and interests, so we decided to design your interests directly into our matching engine for Meetcha. For instance if you select “theater”, “live music”, and “kayaking”, our system restacks our database to show you people with those interests. Additionally, you would be invited to a POD in your area related to the interests that you have selected, along with others who share your interests. We keep the process simple and intuitive because it is central to delivering a rich experience for our members.

MO:
The Meetcha.com blog is also a great feature of the site.  It contains articles on meals to impress your date, style tips for single men, and other great information for singles.  How important do you feel a blog is to any businesses website?  What benefits does it bring to the site?

Founded by Entrepreneur Jeffrey Taylor

Jeffrey:
We have this underlying theme for the blog, the idea of “Get Back Out There”, and we approach this in several different ways.  Our blog is the central hub for our longer form content, like style tips for single men and romantic meal ideas, but we continue the conversation and distribution across our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages.  Our social media efforts are a great way to engage people around the ideas on the blog and get our brand out there, but it all leads back to Meetcha.com. The exciting thing about the social graph is that it is a new way for people to talk to each other about products, as opposed to, say, buying an ad and just talking at them. Even if your command and control of your social graph may not be there today, it is essential that your company is at least trying these tools if you want to engage with your customers.

MO:

The popularity of the site is spreading.  I’ve seen kickoff parties in different cities.  What is the site’s current membership count?  What promotional or marketing strategies are being used to spread the word?

Jeffrey:
We currently have about 10,000 members, with the majority falling in the greater Boston footprint where we launched the site. We have an ambassador program that rewards the first members in a given geographical area, as well as a refer-a-friend program that pays cash to members that refer paid subscribers. Additionally we invest in search engine marketing and search engine optimization to drive traffic. We’ve also experimented with different types of media like radio, and guerrilla street promotions.

MO:

You have founded several successful online businesses.  With Monster.com, you set the standard for job searching and employment listings.  Eons.com provided the first social network for the baby boomer generation.  Now we see Meetcha.com and the new concepts being introduced to online dating.  You seem to have a knack for developing new online models and revolutionizing the way we see things.  What do you attribute this vision to?  Is it a particular way of looking at things?

Jeffrey:
There are 17 million additional babies that were born between 1946 and 1964, and that bubble is now influencing society in a lot of different ways. This is an audience that is educated, opinionated, and holds a lot consumer purchasing power. There is an excitement to this particular age group, one that I happen to be a part of, and almost all of the businesses that I’ve built, Monster, Eons, Meetcha, Tributes, happen to be playing off this age group. I’m all about this concept of a buyer and a seller, and trying to provide a value-added center that sits in the middle of it and brings people together. I think that’s what I’ve been able to do with a lot of the businesses I’ve been involved with. With Meetcha, entering a market with big players like eHarmony or Match doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t room for more niche verticals. When sites like those become as big as they are, there is an invitation for new ideas and innovation in the space, and I’ve spent my career looking for invitations like that and created businesses around that innovation.

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