Florent Steiner and Manuel Conejo founded the french dating website adoptUnMec.com. We interviewed them to find out more about the german site AdoptAGuy.de and their future plans.
unternehmer.de: Tell us about yourself! Who are you?
Florent & Manuel: We are Florent Steiner and Manuel Conejo, two friends who met in school. We’ve been roommates for a while and created several websites before the launch of AdopteUnMec.com in 2008. We’ve always been into entrepreneurship and creating new projects.
Inspiration for the idea
unternehmer.de: What was your inspiration to „sell the perfect men“ and when did you actually decide to found your company?
Florent & Manuel: We do not “sell the perfect man”. “Selling the perfect man” wouldn’t be creative at all, it would be boring. We offer women a website entirely dedicated to them. They are the queens! It means that on AdoptAGuy.de the girls can decide which men can talk to them.
We got that inspiration from our female friends who didn’t feel at ease on other communities to meet people. The reason: they received too many messages from men whom they didn’t want to talk to. So we came up with the idea of letting women choose who can talk to them. This was a very simple idea, but that enables women to feel more confortable and safer. They also felt proud of belonging to that community: our values and our way to empower them fitted with their mentality.
unternehmer.de: Why did you create a german website? Does the french site cooperate with it?
Florent & Manuel: We created a german version of our site, because we thought it could be good to enable german women to have such a place on the internet. This site is entirely dedicated to them and here they know that whomever they see on here, they will only be able to talk to them if the girls agree.
unternehmer.de: Where did you work before and how did all founding members get together?
Florent & Manuel: We had been friends for years, so working together was natural. When we came up with our first entrepreneurs ideas, we didn’t want to work with anyone else. We first created a community of parisian trendsetter, party animals and so on. Quickly the idea of AdopteUnMec.com came to our minds.
unternehmer.de: How do you set yourself apart from your competitors? What makes your company special?
Florent & Manuel: Our members feel part of the communitiy – that makes our website so special. They like our website and the brand. This is because we are offering them a unique experience: empowering women, letting them choose who can talk to them. Men on the other hand feel also better, because they know a girl is interested in them even before starting talking to them. This is unique. The design, the editorial of the website : we work on that very hard to make it nice and fun. People like it very much.
unternehmer.de: What about the right of return with special offers?
Florent & Manuel: Haha! Yes, you remember that! This is a joke we make. As you know we decided to play on the “boutique” side of the website. Men are products, women are clients. Women like to shop, and above they all like to choose. Basically this is what they do: they choose! So if you are not happy with the “product” you got, we can “put it back on the shelves”.
unternehmer.de: Do you have the perfect man even for fastidious women? Is finding the dreamboat guaranteed?
Florent & Manuel: Some found the love of their life on our site. Our members regularly send us mails to thank us for what we did.
unternehmer.de: Are there selection criterions beside the age?
Florent & Manuel: There is no selection criteria to enter our community. We have young people here, because they are the one who use social network every day. They are friends of new sites and are always curious. It is normal to have more young people. But we do not select people, they are all welcome and free to come as they are!
unternehmer.de: What about your financial situation. How did that work out? Do/Did you have financial backup?
Florent & Manuel: We had to be smart to survive at the beginning! We never put ads on our website. We consider that our members shouldn’t be bothered by ads while using our site. So we had to find ways to make people pay. And in the end it worked well, because they think our website is very qualitative. We always remained independent and are willing to keep being so.
unternehmer.de: Back to the beginning: What are the biggest (business) mistakes you made?
Florent & Manuel: The biggest business mistakes we made might have been to hire too many people. We thought we needed to be a lot while in the end you can make a very good work by only focusing on what is essential to your project.
Also we wanted to develop to many “features” for the website while in the end people were already happy with what they had.
unternehmer.de: Now, let’s focus on the positive aspects! In retrospect, what are the things you are particularly proud of?
Florent & Manuel: We’re very proud of all the creativity we put on our project. We’re proud of having believed in ourselves and in our idea. I remember when we had this AdoptAGuy idea, we wanted to test it but we never though it would become so big. We’re happy that we could launch several websites in different sectors, we learnt from all that and this enabled us to meet great people. Human relations are important to the both of us and life is an experience you can discover through work as well.
unternehmer.de: What piece of advice would you give other startups?
Florent & Manuel: Go for your ideas, believe in yourself. Keep your project to the essential functions and launch it. Don’t think about the problems before they arrive, otherwise you will never try.
unternehmer.de: Are there any things you still need? (like an employee, an investor, …)?
Florent & Manuel: We’re always looking for talented employees, even though we’re not very found of hiring if it is not necessary. Unfortunately a talented employee is something rare.
unternehmer.de: Where do you see yourselves in a year?
Florent & Manuel: Many things can happen in a year. Do you even know where you’ll be in 3 months? More seriously, we’re working on the international development now and we hope that in a year we’ll have some countries that will be consolidated.
unternehmer.de: Is there a funny story or a peculiar incident regarding your company you’d like to share with us?
Florent & Manuel: There are so many funny stories about AdoptAGuy.de, but I can tell you about that time in our Parisian office when 3 – 4 girls showed up from nowhere and just wanted to say “hi” and to thank us for creating that website where they have so much fun! I don’t even know where they got our address, but that was fun!
unternehmer.de: Which characteristics should a founder of a new business have?
Florent & Manuel: I think that person shouldn’t be afraid of taking risk and initiative.
unternehmer.de: Keyword social media and web 2.0: do you take advantage of social media? Which stategy do you have?
Florent & Manuel: Our concept is already pretty viral. So social media is just another way to talk about our community. It is true that is helps a lot, but I’d say more for users : they can share their opinion and questions on social media. We’ve always been pretty discrete on them, because we prefer to let people talk. And it works!
unternehmer.de: Short question – short answer: Are you planning a business exit strategy? Yes? No?
Florent & Manuel: Not for the moment. In France we still have a big growth margin, as well as for our international launch.
unternehmer.de: If you could choose any guest for a business lunch, no matter if real or fictional, alive or dead, who would it be? What would you like to talk about?
Florent & Manuel: John Law, he is one of the founder of Burning Man, an event that gather more than 60 000 people every year in Nevada. Here people share with other, are free to express themselves and “ephemeral” is King. He is an artist, but also someone who care for other. He offers them a place where every year they can meet up, make news friends and participate to create, for a certain period of time, a “better world”.
Wer das Interview lieber auf Deutsch lesen möchte, findet auf der zweiten Seite die deutsche Version.