Social media and online dating have put privacy concerns front and center for many. After an unfortunate blind date, entrepreneur Sean Miller had similar concerns and he was inspired to launch his startup called Tigits. The company assigns temporary phone numbers to users who want to share their number but keep their privacy. Miller tells BusinessNewsDaily what it’s all about.
BusinessNewsDaily: Can you describe Tigits to our readers?
Sean Miller: Tigits (short for – “temporary digits”) is a new service that offers an anonymous and second changeable phone numbers that are linked to users permanent wireless or home phone. This allows users to maintain safety and privacy while making and receiving calls. Tigits subscribers can give out their Tigits temporary number when dating online, protecting their permanent home phone and wireless numbers, as well as their home address. If a date goes bad, the Tigits subscriber can quickly change their temporary number, preventing unwanted calls. Email services like Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail have provided this type of anonymity, safety and privacy online for years and now Tigits delivers the same features over the phone. It can also be used for business dealings, buying things online, dealing with salespeople or anytime someone doesn’t want to give their permanent number to a stranger.
BND: How did you come up with the idea of Tigits?
SM: I have done quite a bit of online dating over the years and I had a specific incident that sparked the idea for Tigits. I was meeting a woman for a first date and she showed up late, she was at least a decade older than her profile picture, she was intoxicated, she was rude, and she kept touching my ear. Then after the date she kept calling me on my main phone number for weeks. After that experience I decided there had to be a way to go on a date without giving my personal permanent phone numbers. So I created Tigits which in this case would have been perfect because I could simply have changed my Tigits number and that bad date would never be able to contact me again.
BND: Was there a time in your life when you would have loved to have a Tigits phone number?
SM: Yes, absolutely. I think the answer above about how I came up with the idea answers that question directly. I also use my Tigits number now when I am meeting new people for the first time so that I have that layer of security in case it is not someone I want to have all of my personal information.
BND: How do you advertise your website, do you use social media?
SM: We invest a significant amount in online advertising targeting dating web sites. Tigits is a very effective tool beyond the dating market as well but in the early stages we have been focusing our ad spending on online dating sites because this is the market. One of our latest online ads tells my personal story that I described above so it puts my testimonial in the text about why I started Tigits. We are also launching an aggressive social media campaign that will include many blog posts/articles and viral videos. We also do PR/Media outreach to spread the word about Tigits through the media in new markets where we launch. Finally we are doing a ton of guerrilla marketing in the bars and clubs with a team of very enthusiastic young people.
BND: Does Tigits work with all phone carriers?
SM: Yes it does. It works with all phones and all carriers in every market where we will launch. We started in Toronto as a test market and we will go Canada wide in the next few weeks.
BND: When will Tigits be available in the United States?
SM: We plan to launch in the U.S. this spring or early summer.
BND: Your target market is single women. Who else can benefit from having a Tigits phone number?
SM: Single men also can definitely benefit. I hear a lot of stories from guys who have been pursued after dates that went wrong so it is great for them to have a Tigits number as well. Tigits is also great for using when buying or selling something from a stranger on an online classified site like craigslist. It is also good for small business owners who can’t afford to set up a full separate phone system for their business. They can use a Tigits number for business and their personal number for their personal calls. The service is useful for anytime you have to give out a phone number but you don’t want someone to have your permanent number.
BND: How many subscribers do to you currently have?
SM: We have only been up for a few weeks and are building at a good pace.
BND: As online dating continues to grow in popularity so will web sites like Tigits, how will you stay competitive?
SM: Tigits is working on partnerships with many of the top dating websites so the more growth there is in the online dating industry the better it is for us. One of our board members is Bruce Croxon, co-founder and former CEO of Lavalife and he really was one of the founding fathers of online dating and has had a great impact on where the online dating world is today. He has been invaluable in helping us with our strategies for reaching out to online daters.
BND: Tigits was designed with privacy and security in mind. Social networks today leave little room for privacy. Does that concern you?
SM: I think that is a concern and that is one of the reasons we launched Tigits. People may not realize how much personal information is tied to a home phone number for example. Basically if you give your home phone it is quite easy for someone to find your home address and other personal info that is tied to your phone number. This is why we think people should think twice about giving their phone number to strangers and with Tigits they can give out a number and not worry about consequences if that person turns out to be someone they don’t want to continue contacting them, they can just change their Tigits number.