New York based group-dating site, Ignighter, which stepped foot in India in early 2011, and had raised funding, has now pivoted to being an India centric online meeting place, letting its users meet and interact with other users sharing similar interests.  There’s been a shift in the site’s approach towards its target user-base, and instead of group dating, which probably didn’t work in India, it now lets users decide on their own if they want to connect with a single user or meet in groups. Also, the site doesn’t use the term ‘dating’ explicitly, keeping in mind the Indian market.

Speaking with MediaNama, Daniel Osit, President and co-founder of StepOut, informed that the rebranding took place in January 2012, when Ignighter decided to build a new website customizing it extensively for Indian users. He claims that the conversion rate (number of people who sign up after visiting the site) had doubled after the re-branding.

Also, unlike its previous avatar where users had to pay around $45, to get access to premium features including the ability to chat with other users, signing-up for the service is now free, while users get virtual currency to avail premium features like a full day/full month chat pass or increased visibility on the site. After they’ve exhausted the currency that they get at the time of sign-up, they can top-up using their credit card, via Netbanking or even through cash on delivery. The company has tied-up with a vendor to enable cash collection. It has also integrated Indian payment gateways, namely Billdesk and ICICI Bank, as the transaction failure rate on American gateways was very high.

User-base: The site claims to have a user-base of 4 million, with 95% users being Indians. The site’s Monthly Active Userbase is 40% of the total – 1.6 million. The site claims to add 100,000 to 200,000 users every month. Around 20% users are women. The company has promised to get back with data on the number of subscribers who’re actually paying for the premium features, and the average transaction size. However, basic chat features could cost anywhere between Rs 50 to Rs 100.

Monetization streams & tie-ups: Besides offering premium features such as chat passes and increased visibility on the site, to users through virtual currency, the site also has a tie-up with Cellcast for a voice meesage service, where-in users can leave voice messages for other users on a dedicated line. The charges for voice messages are Rs 6 per minute, and StepOut has a revenue sharing arrangement with Cellcast, for the service. It has also closed a deal with Dominos and is negotiating with other companies to offer discount vouchers to users who pay for services.

On Competition from Facebook: It’s interesting to note that StepOut’s userbase is majorly from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Osit feels that Facebook is not competition since it’s mainly for keeping in touch with one’s existing social circle and not for meeting new people. In fact, StepOut allows users to sign-in via their Facebook IDs and import photos from Facebook albums.