It used to be that we meet new friends and our potential Mr and Mrs Right at school or through our friends of friends. And slowly, internet took over and more and more people discover their love ones through online dating sites such as Match.com, okcupid, Lovestruck and many other web2.0 dating sites.
Mobile internet changed that too, and just as we saw the paradigm shift from offline to online, now people are using mobile apps to search for their love ones.
“Nowadays in the MRT, whenever I see people swiping left or right on their smartphone screen, I know that they are using Paktor,” shared Robert, your typical 23 years old Singaporean.
Robert is among many Singapore users of Paktor, Asia’s version of Tinder, a mobile dating app which exploded in popularity along with the smartphone generation. Paktor allows you to simply flip through profiles of other users and, for each one, either swipe right (I like what I see) or left (show me the next profile). When you swipe right, the other user is notified and has the opportunity to respond and chat with one another.
Since its launch in 2013, Paktor has grown to be the clear leader in Asia with more than 1.5 million registered users and is 20 times larger than the nearest regional competitor. Of the 1.5 million users, over 2 billion swipes and 40 million matches were made through the Paktor in Southeast Asia.
When Paktor was first launched, founder and CEO Joseph Phua didn’t expect it to be a big hit among users. Joseph, who’s 30 this year, with background in consulting, banking and luxury retail, wanted to build something which connects people.
“Our vision is to connect users with new people. Whatsapp, WeChat and Line connect you with people you already know. We create genuine connections with people around you whom you may have seen but not met yet. This is where Paktor can help make a difference in today’s connected society,” Joseph told Vulcan Post.
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With so many users looking for their better halves on Paktor, Joseph carries the huge responsibility to ensure that the app works in connecting people with one another.
“We advise our users to like at least 50 profiles a day. On average, that works for most users. The male to female user ratio in the dating industry is 70% to 30%. We’re doing much better than that,” shared Joseph.
For users like Robert, this is good news. According to Paktor, 1 in 4 users have gone on a date with another user through the app, and on average, a typical user spends nearly 13 hours per month swiping left and right on Paktor, in hopes to connect with their special someone.
The tremendous growth attracted the attention of venture capitalists in the region too, most recently Vertex Venture Holdings which led a Series A investment into Paktor. Vertex is well known for also backing some of the most popular names in the digital industry today: GrabTaxi as well as Reebonz, and it now adds Paktor into its portfolio. With the investment, a total of US$5 million has been raised by Paktor in the last 12 months.
“We support companies that not only have potential, but have a proven record of success, so our decision to invest in Paktor shows our commitment to this relationship. We are confident they will utilise this funding to grow even further,” said Chua Joo Hock, Vertex Venture‘s Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer.
With the new funding, Paktor is looking at expanding its reach, especially in Malaysia. Several new innovation will also be introduced to help people get connected: other than mobile presence, Paktor will also be available on web, allowing users in countries with low smartphone penetration also enjoy the Paktor experience.
In addition, Paktor will venture into the offline space with a new business arm called GaiGai, which offers a physical channel to bring users together through its one-to-one matchmaking services and social dating events. The service is currently only available in Singapore with plans to expand into new markets at a later date.
“I find myself looking for new friends too on Paktor,” shared 26 years old Cheryl, who’s an user of Paktor. True enough, once you are logged into Paktor, you can start browsing profiles of users who might or might not be a potential date. “I still keep in touch with my Paktor matches even though we are not in a relationship. I think this is fine.”
Dating apps and website used to be a taboo among the society, but dating apps such as Paktor has become a viable option for people to meet new friends. Sure your friends might shun you if you need to rely on dating apps, but if you get to meet new friends, and potentially your other half, it is increasingly okay to publicly swipe left and right on mobile apps such as Tinder and Paktor.
“Dating apps are no longer a taboo, it’s socially accepted as the norm now,” said Paktor CEO Joseph, who’s determined more than ever to introduce Paktor to the rest of the world.