The Chinese Web is filled with forums and BBSs, but few companies try to turn those virtual activities into real-life events and gatherings. 1joint.com (its Chinese name "yiju" means "easy to meet up") started earlier this year and attempts to bridge that digital chasm by allowing netizens to find interesting events and parties happening in their own cities.
Tao You is the founder and CEO of 1joint. A Chinese citizen, he earned his B.S. in China in 1996 and went to the United States in 1998 for his Masters degree. He then spent four years working in the IT industry in the U.S. before deciding to come back to China to start his venture.
What is the genesis of 1joint.com?
Joining different parties and events, finding travel mates and sports mates are getting more and more popular in China. It has become a popular way of making new friends and a regular part of young people's daily life.
The Internet is the best place to publish information about parties and events. Right now this information is scattered on different forums and BBS, which is not convenient for people who are looking for this type of information. Plus, forums and BBS are not good enough to help organizers to manage their events efficiently. Therefore a consolidated marketplace which provides event information, management and registration is needed.
How does 1joint.com differentiate itself from competitors and why is your service useful?
First, we are a professional firm offering professional services. We provide event oriented functions and features and our website provides voting, discussion, posting, invitations, feedback and photo sharing.
Our website also gives event oriented flow control where organizers and participants have different rights to access the event based on the timeframe of the event. Our online ticket box office for small to medium events also allows smaller groups to have a payment mechanism for their functions. 1joint provides a customizable ticket function for small to medium events.
We are also interactive and our website provides event Q&A, discussion, chat room and feedback for event organizers and participants. Event organizers can organize an event based on the ad on 1joint directly. Organizers can give feed backs to the businesses.
1joint also has a comprehensive categorization for all the events regarding leisure and fun. Currently, 1joint has 6 topics with 40 channels
What sort of feedback are you getting from your users and how is that causing changes on the service you provide?
We have user experience meetings every week after launching the beta version. And we had a lot of input from our users which helped us to finalize our product. Generally speaking, comments are from two categories: easy to use and easy to browse. We have modified our platform based on the balance of customer needs, our direction and cost.
How are you planning to generate revenue?
The current product will generate revenue from 3 categories. First we will focus on interactive advertisements. Each interactive advertisement belongs to the most appropriate channel. It can be put into 3 different levels on 1joint. And users can post an event directly via the ad. Therefore, the advertiser can see the result of the ad directly as well.
Next we create business accounts. Each business account belongs to the most appropriate channel. When a user posts an event in that channel, 1joint will give the recommendation based on the business account users.
Third, we make money via e-ticket and SMS communication. 1joint helps the event organizers define the pre-charge/deposit. The event attendees can pay online to reserve the event. When the transaction finished, 1joint will send the confirmation via SMS. Then, the organizer will be able to communicate with attendees via a central point by SMS. Those are some key factors to help events be successful. In the meantime, 1joint will be able to charge handling fee from transaction and SMS.
What type of funding do you currently have and are you seeking additional investment?
The project is self-funded by me and another partner, and we are looking for additional funding to make 1joint grow bigger and faster.
What sort of trends are you already seeing from the way your service is being used?
We have already seen experienced organizers start to use our service to manage their events. And we are hoping to see more and more amateur organizers utilize our platform and manage their events efficiently and professionally. Event attendees have found events on 1joint unique, interesting, fun and trustful. 1joint will continue to encourage high quality, unique, interesting and fun event and their organizers. Our long term goal is to build up a branding name for a city events portal.
Have you personally used the site to find interesting events?
Yes, we have and we actually went to those events and talked to the organizers and attendees to get more input.
What type of qualities do you look for in your staff?
We have developers, editors and sales now. We are looking for people with passion for what they are doing, enthusiasm for the concept and skills to execute the plan.
What type of advice do you have for other companies hoping to enter China's online world?
Study more about your customers including their needs, thoughts and behavior.