Dexx: So you guys just launched a new app called Loc8. Why don’t you tell me about that.
Damon: So Loc8 is a Geo-based micro rental app. I like to describe it as Airbnb and Uber had a baby, it’s really simple to use. You can either rent an existing space, a shared space posted by somebody else for a short term rental starting at thirty minutes or more, or you can place your space on there to rent and rent it out for some passive income.
Dexx: Ok, so how does this differ from say, Airbnb?
Damon: Airbnb is long term/overnight and they’re also primarily web based. We’re app based so it’s right on your phone and geo based, and we also start at increments of thirty minutes and we cap out at eight hours. So the whole point is for short term, sometimes spontaneous rentals, not to be overnight and not to encroach on Airbnb’s conquests.
Dexx: Right and is there a particular market you’re targeting for use of these spaces?
Damon: Well, actually the original market, and which is still a very prominent point, is kind of a compliment to the hook up community. So there are so many online and hook-up apps that a person can utilize, but people have a hard time finding space to carry out their tryst, so this is kind of the perfect compliment to having to rent a hotel room or commit for twenty-four hours or paying too much money, stuff like that. Once that was established Jeff really came on board and said it could be anything!
Jeff: Yes, anything! So I’ve got a kitchen. If you like to cook or make a big dinner you can rent my kitchen. You need a place to have a party you can rent the dining room. I’ve got a pool in my backyard, I rent it out for eighteen dollars an hour, you can come a sit by it (yes, clothing optional) laughing.
Damon: And we’ve had a bunch of people come up, especially at our booth here at DomCon that are like, “Oh my god, I’ve got the most amazing dungeon” and continued, “I’ve got an apartment that I love but I’ve got a play space but I’m not going to be there twenty four seven, I need to go home. I can set this up to make passive income.” It’s for anybody and anything. The concept is complimentary to hook-up culture, but at the same time you can use it for whatever. We’ve literally created the platform for you to market your space. We’ve already created LOC8, go make some money off of it and use our app to do it.
Jeff: We provide the space owner with a way to build a business so they can market and monetize their space and we handle the entire transaction. LOC8 has the calendar as part of the app that shows them when the bookings are coming and what to expect, a way to control their transactions. There’s no overlap, they don’t have to actively do all that. Once the transaction completes, we transfer the money into their checking account.
Damon: It’s very seamless because like Uber the user already has all of your information input into the app so you just do one click and you’ve purchased. It’s the same way for our app. When you sign up on LOC8 as a user renting your space, you have already input your checking account information to receive your payment from the renter, it’s invisible to the renter the money just drops in your account. As a user to rent it out, or to rent it, you put in your credit card once and then every time you use it you just do one click and it’s already done. We make it really easy. There’s also in-app messaging so a lot of people are like, what if I don’t know this stranger coming into my space?
Jeff: Or what if I want to know exactly what the amenities are that you’ve advertised?
Damon: You can get details easily within the app, build a comfortable rapport with the renter or the host, which is especially important for safety and you’re good to go.
Dexx: So you’re promoting the app here at DomCon, so presumably at least part of the user base you’re anticipating are kinky people who are looking for a place where they can play. Would you anticipate that generally the people who are renting their spaces out, such as their apartments, as opposed to dungeons, would be aware that it’s going to be used for things like that?
Jeff: We’ve spoken to that in some of our marketing messages. We tried to not be completely salacious about it but the line I used was, “Help give a couple some private time with your extra bedroom in your home.” It doesn’t have to be your apartment. It can be just a room.
Damon: Right, and Jeff told me when we did that in our marketing material, basically for the kinky people they can be, oh my god a free for all! It could be a dungeon, it could be anything, but for the prudish people it can be that, yay we get to get away from the kids and have a romantic dinner.
Jeff: Or, say I want to host the honeymoon couple. We didn’t want to make it in your face. We wanted to lead them to their own conclusions.
Damon: But we’re also very clear that we welcome the kink and alternative community because we’ve had a lot of people ask specifically what about kink is ok and what kinks and fun is that allowed.
Jeff: In our amenities options, one of the options is “sex furniture.” So we have brought that messaging into the app.
Dexx: Right, so if I were a kinky person and I wanted a space where I could do some BDSM play using your app is there a way for me to communicate to the owner that that’s what I’m going to do so there’re no surprises?
Jeff: Well sure. If you saw a picture of a dungeon bed…
Dexx: Well that’s a given! (laughs)
Jeff: Yea and I would think that somebody that has a dungeon space would want to market it to that specific audience. But yea, if you’ve got questions you can have that discussion.
Damon: The amenities section literally say “sex furniture” with a check box and also “other” where the LOC8 host can type in what you have and what you want. And then with the in-app messaging you could also communicate with them before you commit to the space to make sure you’re cool with that. And there’s also a filter section so you can filter it based on zip code, amenities, style of property, things like that. So you can sort through the vanilla only renting out my kitchen et cetera. When it reaches a high volume of available properties to rent, that filter is going to come in really handy. You want a place for kink play as opposed to a place to hang out and study. I had one girl ask me, “oh my god I can study there? I have four roommates!” Using LOC8: by all means, go for it.
Dexx: how much does it cost to rent a space?
Jeff: We don’t care. Basically that’s the space owner’s prerogative on what prices they want to charge. Of course as the market develops, there’ll be a sweet spot of how much people want to market their space and for how much, but it has nothing to do with us. We’re just providing the platform to allow these transactions to occur.
Damon: It’s really handy because it can be a really trashy place that you’re kind of scared to go, if you can get five or ten dollars an hour go for it. But if it’s got all the amenities you could want, hot towel service and a shower and a butler waiting.
Jeff: On the 16th floor!
Damon: Yup! Do a hundred dollars an hour. It’s whatever you’d like. It’s really going to be kind of contingent on what you’re renting out. Meaning if you’re renting out that gourmet kitchen or that view or a house for two hours for your honeymoon tryst, that’s going to be expensive, but for an Orange County lunch time tryst it can be twenty bucks.
Dexx: And how’s the reaction been from people here at DomCon about the app?
Damon: Very positive. Great actually.
Jeff: Everyone feels the same way we do that it’s a market space that has not been addressed; that there’s this huge need that no one has really put their heads around yet. We’re hoping that we can get traction and get people to think about it, “I’ve got a four bedroom house but there’s two of us here, I’m home all day and I could make a hundred bucks a day renting out this room maybe twice a day.”
Damon: Without the commitment of Airbnb, of literally leaving the space or having them in the space overnight or 24/7.
Dexx: Do you think people might have concerns in terms of renting out their space if they have a little dungeon in their home that they might get outed by somebody who’s kind of browsing the app?
Jeff: You know I think that’s always the case. Two things; first of all we have become so accustomed to having our lives online, and I’m sure you’ve experienced this, where you’re different personas are starting to overlap and people are starting to be aware of who you are in your entirety. That could potentially be the case. But I think if they’re looking at your sex dungeon then they’re looking at your sex dungeon because they want a sex dungeon.
Damon: And it’s also going to be mitigated and you can say yea there’s a dungeon space on there but it’s next door to a kitchen space so the app itself is whatever you want it to be. So if they want to jump to that conclusion “oh you’re a kinky dungeon owner,” then that’s on them.
Jeff: And we don’t force personal identification. If you want to put up a picture of a cartoon character as your profile, that’s fine. It becomes where if we have to deal someone on a one-on-one basis we will, but we won’t want people to feel like they have to expose all of this information us to do it.
Damon: And bringing that up, something to know that the profile you use to create to log-in is really simplified. You can put any picture you want, any stats you want, and go from there because the point is not the person, it’s the location and the space. The really detailed information is about the space. You can put it up and John Doe renting his space and the address is not revealed until you actually book the room.
Jeff: And that’s when money changes hands. Something else, we do have an option in the listings that the host can be present or not. Now people can take that to any length that they want.
Damon: Yay, instant threesome! (Laughs)
Jeff: I had a guy who messaged me about the pool I’m renting out, its clothing optional and he says well, are you going to be there. I said sure, he said you can join if you’d like.
Damon: I’m working from home but I will I f I have a chance!
Damon: So there’s that aspect of it.
Dexx: For some reason I feel like the gay community embraces that kind of aspect a little more than the heterosexual does.
Damon: For sure it does. There’s that casual, “Uh, I’m bored, you’ll do”
Jeff: Vice magazine has a report, a really great show, Balls Deep. It’s a straight kid who comes to B-town during their Pride week and he witnesses gay men in all of their glory and he walked away at the end of the show and says they’re leading us to our ultimate or eventual future.
Damon: The lack of shame and just the embracing of culture and this newfound shared economy that you don’t get judged for what you do behind closed doors. Gay men are definitely leading that revolution.
Dexx: And Grindr pre dated Tinder by about ten years.
Damon: Yes I, call is “Scrindr” because everybody has both Scruff and Grindr, they are the boy hook-up apps. And Grindr just got purchased by a Chinese company for about 50 million dollars or something like that.
Jeff: But Tinder, Grindr and Scruff are the top three money making apps on the app store for Apple. They have the highest incomes of all the apps.
Damon: And again that’s what we’re here for. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been online and it’s a match and they’re like can you host? I can’t host, can you host? And it even doesn’t have to be shady, it’s literally they’re at the office or they have a dog at home or a roommate or something. It’s not even behind anyone’s back they just simply can’t have someone over for whatever reason.
Jeff: So the anonymity of going to somebody else’s house makes it more private.
Dexx: Yea, and are you focusing the app in a particular geographical area or are you just going worldwide?
Jeff: It’s the internet. So anything you put on the internet is global instantly. One of the ideas I came up while we’re in development is I had this great real estate app that showed me all the houses that were for sale while I was driving down Sunset Blvd, Relator.com. So, I thought that would be a really great thing to have. Say you’re out at a club and you met somebody and you really want to get out of the club and you can pull up the map portion of it and see dots for all of the locations that are in your vicinity and you can tap on it and see where you are.
Damon: Absolutely. So it also allows you to find a simple place to hang based on location, not searching and hoping. Say you’re in a strange city and don’t know where to go or hook-up or you don’t want to go back to your room. Perhaps you shared space with a friend or business partner at the hotel and you can’t go back to the hotel, you could pull up LOC8 and find a space. Geographically it’s kind of by default. We both live in LA and our circle of friends is in LA and San Francisco and New York.
Jeff: So we’re starting from there.
Damon: An immediate sphere of influence is there. Breaking in to the next sphere of influence, that’s what the next step will be and it even could be viral.
Dexx: This is available on iPhone and Android?
Jeff: Just iPhone right now.
Damon: Development costs and we’re working on it right now so Android will be the next phase, hopefully soon.
Dexx: So I’ve taken a look at the app and it seems relatively sophisticated and good looking.
Damon: It was paid for and developed and designed out of our own pocket and we both wanted half and half. I came up with the idea and Jeff really enabled me to bring it to fruition with understanding of apps and tech. We each literally work full time jobs so we paid for it ourselves and went, “this is how we want it to work and look” so we were part and parcel to it the whole time.
Jeff: There’s also kind of getting the ideas into fruition and then when it does, is that what you wanted? It’s just lots of tweaking.
Dexx: Jeff do you have some background in creating software?
Jeff: Yea I am a part of Dot-Com 1.0 that went bust in 2000. I worked for three dot-coms in the 90s and early 2000s. I also worked in Silicone Valley and my last gig in Silicone Valley was a software development director for Nokia. We actually didn’t work for Nokia directly but we worked for a company that supplied them with their operating systems. So I did have a lot of time working with software developers and understanding the details of all the moving parts.
Damon: He was the one that could interface with our developer.
Jeff: I moved into adult entertainment about five years ago. So I operate a couple of gay websites and I also work for a kink retailer in San Francisco. So I moved into that space so this was a natural space for me to work in as well.
Dexx: When you were having the app coded, did you run into any difficulty with people looking at the project and going that’s a little bit too weird?
Jeff: No, I don’t think they understood it. It was a couple of straight guys mostly. And we’re talking about hooking up at a bar with some guys and then wanting to leave and fuck, or engage in a nooner with someone you met on craigslists, and they’re like, “wait, what?” So I had to move it into, “so you’re playing pool at a pub and you meet some pretty girl and you want to go take her dinner” or something. We had to go down this road.
Damon: There was a lot of gay sex 101. And now that you know that this happens, we need the app for it.
Jeff: He didn’t quite get it, but then he started to understand it and he was fine. He lives in San Francisco now so he’s exposed to all of that.
Damon: There was definitely never any push back of Oh, that’s too out of the box or too kinky. It was just more an understanding of what are you talking about.
Jeff: And to be kind of totally transparent. I don’t think we ever saw LOC8 as being as a dungeon rental service. So that wasn’t what we wanted, but from a business perspective it could be so much more than that. So we’re always in this push-pull of how sexual do we make our marketing messages.
Dexx: And other than coming to events like DomCon and publications how do you guys intend to market it?
Jeff: We’re hoping that we’ll ultimately partner with some sort of media app.
Damon: We’re open to that idea. It’s finding that balance. This is uncharted territory for me and relatively new for Jeff as well.
Jeff: It is. I was working online but I was a smut peddler. Trying to get people rent out their homes. It’s new to me too.
Damon: So as an app, do I go, “let’s build this and see how it goes” and become the sheppard’s of that, and that be our job, or do I build it and let it out into the world and let somebody buy it from me and say here’s the cash, make it grow? I don’t know.
Jeff: I think both of us would love it to be our full time job, it would be fun.
Damon: I wouldn’t mind that one bit! You work fourteen hours a day as an entrepreneur hoping to not work at all.
Jeff: But to have something of your own that you worked toward, working fourteen hours a day is totally acceptable.
Damon: Absolutely. Especially in the kink community. I just ran into a co-worker from my regular nine to five job and she just kind of gave me that look. And she walked up and said, “I thought would see you at some of these events.” Because I’m pretty transparent about who I am as a person, but a lot of people aren’t. But that just illustrates that we have these lives where we work 24/7 and then we have this whole kink world and people who try to make money in the kink world as sex educators and Dommes, not many people can do it 100% and pay the bills. So we’re at that phase where if we can do something that we love and create it and have it pay our bills. Awesome.
Dexx: Well I think the hook-up aspect of the app is an interesting one, but I think the kink one is really interesting as well. You’ve got a lot of people who probably have play space in their local city but when they’re travelling they want a play space that comes with all the equipment and you can’t get that in a hotel.
Damon: I’ve been in hotels where they use the luggage rack as a rim seat. We’ve done it! You end up improvising and doing rope bondage with a telephone cord and shit like that. If LOC8 enables those spaces to become available to use…great!
Jeff: Plus I think the duration aspect kind of lends itself to a pop up dungeon. You rent a room, you set up a dungeon and rent it out on LOC8 until the hotel finds out and then you duck out.
Damon: But I know guys that travel with their portable slings, they can show up at a hotel, set up their sling, they can put their hotel on Loc8 for the 48 hours they’re in town and they’re going to go to dinner and let some other guys rent it.
Jeff: Or have a play party and make some money through the app renting the space.
Damon: The possibilities are endless!
Loc8 is available for iPhone now from the app store on your phone.