Exclusive Interview with Smooci, the Uber for Escorts
Regular readers will know I’ve been impressed by the Smooci escort booking site and have done reviews of their initial Bangkok launch and the more recent launch in Manila. They’re also now in Singapore.
The Smooci team have been kind enough to give me an exclusive interview to get a bit deeper into what Smooci is.
– Could you do a quick pitch on what Smooci is, to someone who has never heard of it before?
Sure, Smooci is an Escort booking site, like a next generation Escort directory. Clients make real time searches and get live results of girls who are ready to respond and meet.
Before ordering an escort girl, clients can see genuine ratings and reviews. I believe we are the only site with fully verified reviews, all from clients who had confirmed bookings with the escort.
When the client finds the girl they like they can confirm the booking with a few clicks, and the request goes to the Escort’s app. She then has 10 mins to accept but most requests are accepted within 3 mins.
Once a booking is confirmed the client is told when the escort is on her way to meet, giving the client a GPS link to track their date to their door, Uber/Grab style.
The client also gets a review link once the booking is complete, allowing the client to leave a star rating, write a review of their meeting, and vote whether the photos were accurate.
– Smooci seemed to come out of nowhere. How did the idea come up and how did you get started?
We came at it from a tech angle. Our experience is in software and apps, and we had previously worked closely with a well-known food delivery company.
We were asked to help a Bangkok escort agency with their management system. They had a lot of girls and were struggling to keep organized. We created an app platform for them and management dashboard.
The new system showed them when a girl was available and where she was, with live schedules and locations, meaning if a client called about a girl they could accurately say when she would be available.
One of the benefits was that when the client called saying his date was late they could live track her and give accurate updates. Within a few months the agency had almost doubled in size, word had got out.
Other agencies were interested, and we saw the potential to create a new Escort directory, helping every agency organize and sharing the extra control directly with the client.
So we did just that, launching in BKK in 2016. By 2017 Smooci was the biggest Thailand Escort site.
– With the sudden closure of backpage and craigslist’s personals section, it seems your major competition was taken out almost overnight. How has that affected Smooci and your plans to grow?
The closure of backpage wasn’t a huge surprise, they’d been having problems for a while, mainly because their platform was so open and unregulated.
Stories of underage sex and human trafficking on backpage had been around for years, and they’d had serious warnings from the FBI.
We had a real dilemma when first starting this project, we were a little nervous and apprehensive entering the industry, but decided that we could do something positive, creating something that increases fairness and safety for both the clients and the escorts- that is at the core of the Smooci concept.
We work closely with industry specialist lawyers to ensure we are making positive moves.
– A lot of clients will be nervous about using the credit cards or putting their personal info into Smooci, what could you say to reassure them that this is all safe?
Data security is very much in the news at the moment. Facebook has been in the spotlight for their failures, and the new GDPR regulations are pushing everyone to start taking greater responsibility of their client’s data and data security. Again, it’s something which has been at the core of our concept since we began.
Regarding payments, when a client purchases a premium membership this is done through a secure third party, and when a payment is complete we are only informed of the last 4 digits of the card used to make the payment the email address, which then allows us to create the account.
No other card info is given to us or stored on our system. We also don’t use auto-rebilling. This is something I’ve always hated, and I don’t think it’s fair when subscriptions to memberships renew as a default. We are confident clients will like our product and keep renewing their membership manually.
In terms of how we treat client data, we strictly don’t share any info with any third party, other than the escort or agency the booking is with, giving them the minimum info they need to confirm the booking.
– What other problems have you encountered while entering the Escort industry?
We quickly realized what the main scams and problems were. Bait and switch, false ages, heavily photo shopped pictures, these were industry wide problems, and things we knew we had to try tackle.
The ability to show verified comments goes a long way to exposing any escorts not playing fairly, while a client flagging system allows the Escorts to notify us if they have a problem client, and if a client gets several flags a warning is sent to the Escort whenever that client makes a booking.
The photo voting means a client gets to vote whether the photos are accurate or not, after a booking is complete. It’s somewhat subjective but if a photo gets a high number of negative votes the system automatically removes it, and if a photo gets almost exclusively positive votes it is marked as being verified.
We will also be adding age verification soon. This will be optional but it will allow escorts to request their age to be verified. They send us their ID and their age is highlighted as verified on their profile.
– Do you have any other cool updates coming up?
We have three big updates coming up. Incalls will give the ability to book Escorts offering incall, with verified locations and the ability for their client to track the route to the Escort. This is perhaps more immediately relevant to the Hong Kong and Singapore markets, but it sets us up ready to launch in Europe.
Another is online notifications. This allows premium members to also search offline Escorts and click to be notified when that Escort next comes online.
The last is a safety feature which chases up escorts who don’t respond after a booking is complete. It then tries to contact the escort 2 hours and 12 hours after a booking, and then we manually contact them if they still haven’t responded to the booking being over if no response 24 hours after a booking has ended.
We also give the escorts the option to add a security contact who we can contact at this point.
– The Manila launch has gone well, I’ve used Manila Courtesans agency before which you work with. Do you have plans to launch in more cities like Cebu or Angeles?
We’ve talked about the possibility of launching in Cebu. It’s not high on our hit list, but if Manila keeps growing and we get more interested there, I could see us launching in Cebu by this Summer.
Angeles City we have heard about but I’m not sure it’s a city which would benefit from our system. From what I understand it’s very much a bar scene in a condensed area. But if demand is there we are open to it.
– What other expansions do you have coming up? I notice Pattaya is mentioned as ‘coming soon’.
We’ve wanted to launch in Pattaya for a long time, we’ve had a lot of requests for their, from both clients and escorts, but we want to first get established on 3-4 other countries before becoming too big in Thailand.
Our next big target is Hong Kong. We are waiting for the incall ability to be complete first before we attempt to launch in HK and then start to tackle Singapore, which we did a soft launch in last month.
– What kind of things can the customer put in the ‘special requests’ box? And what’s the craziest thing anyone’s ever written there?
The special requests box is only limited by the client’s imagination. Usually it’s used to ask for uniforms, lingerie or toys, but it is sometimes used for more kinky requests.
We can’t share any of the details with you as we have to be completely respectful of the clients privacy. But you can check out the client comments on the escort profiles, there are some really interesting reads and it can be quite addictive just reading through the comments.
– What does the future hold for Smooci? Are looking to take over Southeast Asia? Even beyond that?
We are ambitious. We have had a lot of interest from Europe and Japan, and we would definitely like to start expanding out there before the end of the year.
But right now we still have unfinished business in Southeast Asia, and would like to complete the SEA circuit – Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong are in our sights at the moment.
– Thanks for your time and for bringing us Smooci. I think this is going to be a huge success in Philippines and beyond, please try to get it out to more cities! Good luck.