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This article was published on May 2, 2008 prostitution 2.0 or a good business idea? prostitution 2.0 or a good business idea?
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
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Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

Being a true start-up blogger, I’ve subscribed to the KillerStartUps RSS feed. This means scrolling through at least 30 new start-ups a day of which most are hopeless. Yet sometimes this feed is great source of inspiration. This morning I stumbled upon, a dating community where users get paid to go on a date.

Coffee love
After setting up a gold account of 140 dollars, you can upload a picture, participate in forum discussions, write blog postings, but most importantly of all: you can set a price that you will charge others to go on a date for you. According to the founders, it’s “the most revolutionary and most efficient dating service in the world. (..) You set your price, then the potential matches pay you to meet for coffee. Do not waste your precious time on other sites.”

Well, revolutionary or not, I tend to agree with Thomas from KillerStartUps, he notes:

The word “prostitution” comes instantly to mind when thinking about being paid for a “date”.

Call me conservative, but for me it would be one embarrassing start of a love affair when you know one of the parties has paid for the first date.

However, this service might be perfect for business purposes, like NotchUp has already proved.

NotchUp allows you to set up a price that you will charge headhunters to talk business with you. Co-founder Rob Ellis told me that “the way people look for new jobs and companies hire is broken, and we’d love to help fix it”. The service managed to attract 100,000 users in the first month and still seems to go strong.

Coffee break during the Next Web
Coffee break during The Next Web conference

So how can we translate this “pay and I’ll show up” model to another way of doing business? We could use it for networking purposes. In the tech world, there are some tech influentials that EVERYBODY wants to meet. Think of Scoble, Arrington, Calacanis, and Rubel, who wouldn’t want to have coffee with them? And although I’m sure they’d love to meet interesting people, their schedules probably won’t allow it.

So how about organizing a coffee meeting – featuring a web influential – for which you can buy a ticket? Then you have the time to interview him, pitch your start-up, discuss the future of the web or just have a chat.

Though I’m not entirely sure the bad taste of “you have to pay me” will disappear. After all the ideals of our industry lead to a different coffee experience. Open Coffee, anyone?