Being a gay cop in China was never going to be easy. Ma Baoli (Geng Le) learned it the hard way after he had to leave the force for running a popular online gay discussion forum (Danlan.com). In 2012, he started Blue City Holdings, the parent company behind Blued, for the LGBTQ community.
Ma Baoli grew up near sea. Every time he looked at the horizon, where the blue water meets the blue sky, he was overcome with a serene sense of calmness. The name ‘Blued’ is a reflection of the special place the colour blue has on his life.
The Chinese version of Grindr has created ripples in China since its launch. Now, the app is busy expanding its horizons. Blued was launched in India in September, 2018.
The Passage spoke to Yu Jun, country manager, Blued recently about their big plans for India.
The Passage: How do you stand out from your competition such as Grindr?
Yu Jun: Blued doesn’t follow a vanila dating format. We help users to create strong connections within the community. Blued provide users a platform to build an audience and become a social celebrity which in turn can open the possibilities for earning streams. Our core features include Live Stream, Video Chat & Groups, which allow users to connect seamlessly across the globe.
BlueD is a location-based social app. The nearby page is our most attractive feature. Users could browse the category to find kindred spirits.
The Passage: What are your marketing strategies to promote the app?
Yu Jun: Instagram and Facebook are our best bets in social media marketing. We are working to bring more video content for our users to be made exclusively available on Blued app and our Youtube channel. Visual content works like magic.
The Passage: How many users do you have? What’s your month on month growth?
Yu Jun:We have 40 million users globally. India has seen the fastest growth so far. That too, just two months into the launch. Our goal is to become the largest gay app in India after China, Taiwan and a few East Asian countries.
The Passage: What is the biggest challenge for dating apps in India?
Yu Jun: The challenges are no different than any other dating app catering to heterosexual people. Creating a safe platform is key and Blued is totally committed to user safety.
The Passage: Tell us about a few unique features of Blued.
Yu Jun: Safety and security is one of the key features of Blued app. The user can make a direct video call to authenticate profiles. The video call can be done without sharing the contact number. We block profiles which engage in nudity and abusive language and the blocked profiles cannot create new accounts using the same device. The app allows users to sync their Instagram posts.
The Passage: Apart from premium subscriptions, what are your revenue channels?
Yu Jun: Our monetisation model is anchored on our Live stream feature, where users can gift their favourite live streamers by making in-app purchases.
The Passage: India is still a conservative country in many ways. How do you get your message out without offending the general public?
Yu Jun: India is a democracy and everyone has the Right to Speak. Orthodox mentalities can’t be changed overnight. We have made it a point to focus on the message and the medium to make sure the love is portrayed aesthetically.
We have a short movie contest coming up on June 8 to identify and encourage LGBTQ talents. Dubbed BQF, the idea of the contest is to spread awareness about the community and share their stories. Blued has run campaigns like #RangdeBluedse , (launched on Holi) and we also have an anti-bullying campaign lined up.
The Passage: What’s the potential you see in India? Do you have any data to back it up?
Yu Jun: With more than half the country’s population under the age of 25, online dating is very quickly becoming a competitive space in India. As per a study, there are more than 100 million bisexual men in India. The gay community stands at 2-3% of total population at around 30 million. Our current user base is around 40 million and 40% is from the overseas market. Indian market has seen a 50% user growth in short time. We believe India will be our second largest market in the world after China. Blued keeps coming up with updates or changes to make the user experience smooth and safe.