Executive seat: Intellichat's Billy and Jeremy Thomas
“I noticed that there wasn’t anyone really concentrating on the adult side within the Intellichat team,” Jeremy recalled. “After some research into the adult side, I could see that there was an opportunity to turn Intellichat into a leading exit console for the adult industry. Given this, I approached the CEO and explained what I thought was needed for Intellichat to succeed in this space. This is when IntellichatAdult was formed in October 2008.”
Although Jeremy and Billy were excited about developing and building IntellichatAdult, they also had their concerns about what it would take to win over adult webmasters. “One of the reservations we both had was breaking into an area that was new to us,” Jeremy explained. “We knew that being the new kids on the block and (being from) England, it was going to be a big challenge for us to be accepted in this industry.”
With the birth of IntellichatAdult, Jeremy and Billy developed an Intellichat program that was specifically designed for the sales and conversion needs of adult websites. But the initial challenge, they remember, was convincing adult Internet companies that two businessmen with mainstream backgrounds were absolutely serious about the adult industry.
“I think the first couple of months with IntellichatAdult were quite hard,” Billy explained. “But once we got some companies testing out the product and giving us some feedback, we managed to push further within the adult industry.”
One of the most valuable things Jeremy and Billy learned about the adult entertainment industry during their first few months building IntellichatAdult was that networking was not only important — it was downright crucial. The adult industry, they realized, is very relationship-driven and the more they networked and became familiar faces at adult conventions and trade shows, the more successful IntellichatAdult became.
“It took a lot longer for us to break into the adult market than we first thought,” Jeremy observed. “And in a lot of cases, you need to build up a personal relationship and let people see the real you before they are prepared to do business, as the product speaks for itself.” Billy concurred, saying, “Going to the conventions, we noticed that if you didn’t know people on a personal level, it didn’t matter how much money your product could actually make their company — they needed to get to know you on a personal level. They needed to get to know you as a person, not just as a company.”
Jeremy and Billy’s teamwork has made IntellichatAdult profitable during a very deep recession. Billy said that when consumers are so budget-minded, adult websites must do everything possible to close the deal — and IntellichatAdult does that with a virtual sales agent that discourages potential customers from leaving a site when they are at the point of purchase.
One of the things that has helped Jeremy and Billy build an adult clientele in the U.S., Billy said, is opening an Intellichat office in Tempe, Arizona in addition to the company’s main office in England. And Jeremy said that from a technological standpoint, having a 23-yearold son for a business partner has been a major plus. Being part of the Generation Y/Echo Boomer demographic, Billy comes from a generation that grew up using the Internet — and that, according to Jeremy, has been quite advantageous for IntellichatAdult.
“I can honestly say that the Internet and computers baffle me sometimes,” Jeremy explained. “I believe in letting people do the job they are good at; so all the guys back here (in the U.K.) and Billy take good care of all the technical stuff for me. Billy comes into his own with me; he understands the technological side of things far better, as he has grown up with computers from an early age.”
Jeremy, in fact, didn’t work in an Internet-oriented environment before becoming part of the Intellichat team in 2007; his background was in real estate. But between Jeremy’s business savvy and Billy’s technological expertise, their partnership proved to be a major asset for IntellichatAdult.
“My background before Intellichat had nothing to do with the Internet,” Jeremy noted. “I was a builder, renovating properties and building up a real estate portfolio over a number of years. So my experiences I have brought with me to IntellichatAdult are determination, hard work, belief in your product and yourself and, of course, customer service.”
Jeremy continued: “I have to say working with my son is just great. I know people say you shouldn’t mix family with business, but this (partnership) has to be one of the best moves as far as IntellichatAdult is concerned, as it has helped make it a success. We are more like mates than father and son through doing this, and we can rely on one another for whatever is needed.