Q&A: Mike de Jong Leads IsLive to Ambitious Newfound Heights

Q&A: Mike de Jong Leads IsLive to Ambitious Newfound Heights

The managing director of cam network, Mike de Jong, is a practiced salesman with a diverse professional background that includes retail, online businesses and a deeply-attuned study of consumer behavior.

With lessons gleaned from the scalability of software-as-a-service platforms and the power of affiliate marketing, he now seeks to expand IsLive beyond its strong roots in Western Europe to chart new courses in other markets like the U.S.

I always start with the “numbers.” I have some Excel spreadsheets that I fill in to see how the day went.

By embracing talent ambassadors to help spread positive word-of-mouth, as well as ensuring the technical side of his business is cutting-edge, de Jong juggles many responsibilities to recruit, retain and empower cam models.

Now, he discusses his ambitions and reveals his strategies, in this Executive Seat interview.

XBIZ: Discuss your professional background prior to joining this industry.

DE JONG: I’ve always been a salesperson. Even during my studies, I was already doing retail sales, as well as old-school telesales working at call centers making cold calls. It was during this time that I became particularly interested in studying consumer behavior; I found it very interesting to examine what people wanted to buy, which brands they wanted to be associated with and why.

I have always sought to better comprehend these underlying consumer motivations throughout my career and have discovered that selling is no less important than actually being able to supply all the demand while staying competitive.

By the end of the 2010s, online sales really started to take off and I noticed that affiliate marketing and software-as-a-service (SAAS) platforms were much more scalable than actually selling products. So I started to work at an online marketing company in the fast-moving consumer goods industry and became sales director for North Europe/Scandinavia. From that moment, I knew I wanted to stay in the online industry.

XBIZ: What ultimately led you to work in the adult entertainment business?

DE JONG: Through my work in the online space, I had already come into contact with online payment service providers. I got hired by one and they were doing billing for adult sites. Before that point, I had no idea regarding the volume and the business behind it. So I started to become super interested and the rest is history.

XBIZ: How did your experiences prior to joining IsLive in 2017 help prepare you for the demands of managing a cam business?

DE JONG: I managed sales and marketing teams before and already had some experience in managing a dev team and working scrum. But I think what is really valuable is the network that I learned how to build over the past few years and the fact that I had already traveled for many years. So I felt quite comfortable working with different cultures and larger companies, setting up deals.

XBIZ: Over the years, how has your role at IsLive evolved?

DE JONG: I was hired as the managing director, which I obviously still am at this point. So from that point it didn’t change much. The only thing that really changed is that the original founders were involved on a daily basis in the beginning, teaching me all the tricks and preparing me to stand alone on my own two feet. Nowadays, I talk to them most likely once every quarter.

XBIZ: Tell us what a "typical" workday is like for you. How do you interface with other team members and execute your goals?

DE JONG: I always start with the “numbers.” I have some Excel spreadsheets that I fill in to see how the day went. If anything needs my attention, we take it up with the dev or support teams. After this, I normally try to book my meetings in the morning, so I can do the rest of the work later in the afternoon behind my desk. This can be meetings with models, studio service suppliers, partners, affiliates, team managers, etc. So far, we primarily focus on Europe, so luckily I haven’t had to deal with too many time zones.

XBIZ: What is your approach to ensuring IsLive stays ahead of the curve in the competitive camming landscape, in terms of tech and branding?

DE JONG: I think what’s always made IsLive great is the personal and, especially, localized approach. It’s not necessarily a cam site where you can expect thousands of visitors at the same time, as there is no free chat available. So all your visitors have credits, which means you’ll have way more one-on-one conversations. We think there will always be a space for this and we are currently relaunching our platform with the latest features. I am confident the U.S. market will learn to appreciate us.

XBIZ: Any behind-the-scenes business partnerships that have proven especially helpful in growing IsLive?

DE JONG: Way too many! Obviously all our models, but as this is not really “behind-the-scenes,” I would say the most important one for us is our partners and affiliates. We see ourselves more as a technology company, providing both white- and black-label solutions to our partners. And 90% of them work with us on a lifetime revshare basis. Some of them have already done so since 2003. Besides that, we have a great relationship with Kiiroo, which is also owned by the same group.

XBIZ: How do you recruit and retain new talent for the platform?

DE JONG: IsLive has quite a strong brand here in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, but we would love to work with more brand ambassadors in the U.S. and elsewhere outside of Europe, as we believe there is no stronger marketing method than positive word-of-mouth.

XBIZ: From which regions in the world do your most active users come from, and which locations are you looking to aggressively expand into traffic-wise?

DE JONG: Currently, Western Europe, but we will expand into the U.S. and South Europe.

XBIZ: What's next in 2021 and beyond for IsLive, and for your own personal life?

DE JONG: Wow, I just hope it will go back to the same as before. I actually really liked to work with my colleagues on a daily basis in the office, see my friends, travel to shows and go on amazing holidays with my girlfriend. I am looking forward to that again.


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