You might be forgiven for approaching the idea of yet another dating site with fatigue. But Adam Sachs, the 29 year-old founder of Stepout (formerly Ignighter) will not have it. When we meet him at a a coffee shop in Bandra on a cool Tuesday, the man with a big smile tells us that the site is so much more — “we prefer to call it a social website which looks at creating a space where users can meet as per their choice and convenience.”
Sachs graduated from Northwestern University in Illinois in 2005 and then worked at Sony Pictures Entertainment in the Marketing and Sales Department for one-and-a-half years. In early 2011, with an enviable resume in hand, he headed to India to launch Stepout (.com), a dating website based in India and the United States.
Stepout was founded in January and claims to be an online platform for youngsters who share similar interests. Why has it been rebranded? “Ignighter was very famous in the US, but it was in India that we found the most subscribers. Also, Ignighter has a ‘nighter’ in its name, which could sounds creepy. So we decided to change it,” he laughs.
Sachs also realised that the dating scene in India is more conservative than in the West. “We took these differences into account. If you enter our website, the word ‘dating’ is not mentioned anywhere. We want people to meet and share a friendship without any qualms.”
Stepout does not claim to be a matrimony website. The concept, says Sachs, required a lot of research. The company’s researchers studied the behavioral patterns of people in the age group of 25-30 years over nine months. “We studied focus groups. Surprisingly, we realised that, on an average, people had been in six romantic relationships. We understood how customs and traditions play a large role in people’s lives here. And our research confirmed that there are many people who would like to meet people without having marriage on their minds all the time,” says Sachs.
Sachs says he understands that websites such as Shaadi(.com) and Bharat Matrimony(.com) already have an established clientele. But people, he believes, would subscribe to Stepout for very different reasons. “Their central idea is geared toward marriage. However, anyone can sign in on Stepout — there is no age or caste bar, which other websites have.”
Sachs also dispels the idea that Stepout is like Facebook. “I use Facebook all the time. But then, everybody, from your father to your grandma, is on it. And I don’t want to mix my dating world with my grandparents,” he reasons.
Sunny Hasija, a 24 year-old freelancer from Mumbai, tells us that he met his friend, 21 year-old Rashmi Patil, through the suite. “I chanced upon Stepout six months ago while surfing the Internet. I had never used dating websites before, but this one caught my eye. There is a section called Centrestage which has a lot of pictures of young guys and girls which I found very appealing. That is how I met Rashmi,” he says.
Sachs has ambitious plans for the future. “We are in the process of introducing new sections on our website. There will be a relationship advice section, which is unique. I am also working on a premium app for Stepout,” he concludes.