3 Lessons Startup Founders Can Learn From Sex Workers

Prostitution is often called “the oldest profession on Earth” and it could be argued that startups are the newest. So what can the new kids on the block learn from the old timers? Let’s take a look at a site that combines both the new format of a startup and the old business of men paying for women’s “time:” Slixa.


1. Find a product that sells.

One of the oldest clichés in the book is “sex sells” and it’s a cliché for a very, very good reason. On Slixa, sex is literally what’s being sold (oh, actually, wait, you’re buying their “time,” sorry, PROSTITUTION IS ILLEGAL), but no matter what your business is, one of your first tasks is making sure there’s a market for whatever you’re peddling.

While you may be really, really into artisanal jams from a specific region of Italy that can only be purchased from little nonnas dressed in black and want to make sure that the rest of the world can access it too, that’s probably not a good startup idea.

Look for an industry where there’s a need to be filled. Slixa is filing the need of wealthy men to have their egos (and other parts) stroked by beautiful women who probably wouldn’t give them the time of day if they weren’t paying. What do you have to offer?

new york

2. Presentation is everything.

Guys, I cannot stress this one enough. Sometimes I really think that “bootstrapping” translates into “I’m going to build the ugliest websites possible just to be an assault on the aesthetic sensibilities of every tech writer, potential investor, and client out there.”

Don’t. Do it. Spend the money to look good, baby, and you’ll pull in the high rollers. That’s the message we can take from both the design of Slixa (which, I have to say, is stunning) and from the girls themselves.

Let’s take the example of one lovely lady’s profile to examine both of those things, shall we? La Boheme has built up an entire brand. She’s not just offering you “sensual pleasure,” but the company of a smart, stylish, “bohemian” girl. She has created herself as the kind of girl who read books in knee-high boots and frolics on the beach and loves to drink tea.

la boheme

And what does she get in return? Eight hundred dollars for a two hour “Dip in the Pond.”

As for the layout of the profile itself, it’s set up exactly as it should be. I’m loving the large picture at the top, followed by fonts in decreasing size as we go from her name  and continue down into the gritty details. The whole thing is set up to pull you along through the narrative of who she is and what she has to offer, so, by the time you get to prices, you’re ready to pull out your wallet.

Slixa has created a clean, well-organized, transparent site that is usually relegated to seedy back pages and cluttered, ugly forums. It gives these women a chance to display the best of what they have to offer and the legitimacy of the format forces clients to see these women as more than just sex objects. Lesson learned: present your best and you will get the best.


3. Charge the right people.

In order for escort services to work, you need two different groups of people: escorts and clients. The clients already plan on paying quite a lot of money for the services they’re seeking, so it makes 100% sense that Slixa has chosen to charge the ladies.

Considering the amount that the escorts stand to make from the connections they find through Slixa, paying a mere 30 bucks a month for a beautiful and effective profile is really nothing at all. However, they’ll only be willing to pay any fee at all if they get business, which is why it’s genius on the part of the site to provide browsing services without any commitment – no fee and no signup necessary – on the client’s part.

When you’re looking at your own business, consider these exact same factors. Who stands to benefit from your site? Who do you need to pull there for free? Who can afford to pay? Get that figured out and you’re well on your way to pulling in revenue.


Photos by… Slixa

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