AWSummit’s Alexandru Gheorghe Has Eyes Set on Growth
The AWSummit has quickly made its mark and has become a top draw for chat hosts, studios and cam sites from all over the world.
Founded by CEO Alexandru Gheorghe just two years ago, the cam-centric AW brand has grown to include an awards program, AWAwards, that accompanies the conference in Romania, as well as AWCampus, a competition for models.
Not to stop there, Gheorghe has plans for an upcoming studio conference, AWStudios, this coming spring, along with AWNews, a new trade website for the cam biz.
With AW projects steamrolling ahead left and right, XBIZ recently sat down with Gheorghe for this Q&A interview to learn more about how his up-and-coming company established its roots and found tremendous success.
XBIZ: You’ve been in the adult entertainment business more than a decade. How did you get started in the industry?
Gheorghe: I started with a small “no name” studio back in the days when I was only 23 years old. That was 13 years ago. But my first love was actually being an affiliate in the cam business. Between 2006 and 2011 when I started NightProwl Studio, I was more of a programmer and affiliate.
XBIZ: Are you still active with NightProwl studio?
Gheorghe: I am not really active anymore. Being involved in a lot of projects doesn’t allow me the necessary time that I would like to spend working with these amazing girls. However, I have a very professional team that helps a lot and they do all the hard work so I can focus on bigger projects.
XBIZ: What inspired you to create AWSummit and AWAwards? And are you pleased how the number of attendees keeps on growing?
Gheorghe: To be honest, I don’t consider myself as a very creative guy. I think my best attribute is the way I observe things. And, obviously, creating an event in 2014, when AWSummit started, you didn’t have to be very creative because adult gatherings have been taking place since the 1990s, or even earlier. But I felt there was nothing out there for cams, and it was the right time to step up and do something about it.
What not many people know is that the actual first AWSummit took place four months before the “official” first Mamaia show in June 2014. It was a gathering only for Romanian studios in February 2014 with almost 200 people attending it. After 10 or more years of competition between local studios, they all came together under the same roof, discussed and met each other. And that was the start of something really amazing (and I’m not talking about AWSummit). In just four months after that success we built the Mamaia show as everybody knows it today.
And the show started to grow, reaching more than 600 attendees in 2016 and expecting 1,000 or more next year.
And we are still expanding, keeping our focus on the live cam business. But what is the cam business without billing, hosting, payment, traffic, affiliates and so on?
XBIZ: Are we currently going through a Golden Age in the cam biz, or have we passed that?
Gheorghe: Depends on who you are asking and how you define the Golden Age. Any model was able to make $5,000 to $10,000 per week, or even more, in the early days of camming. Today it’s more difficult to achieve those amounts for different reasons. So, yes, for models and studios the golden days have already passed. At least for now.
But the cam business itself is still at the beginning. You just need to look around and see that everybody is busy with a tablet or a phone, doing something online, socializing mainly. So actually the market of potential customers, the number of people that do not interact too much in their real life, is increasing each and every day. And they have the need to socialize, as it’s in our DNA as humans.
I think that the future will create even more tools to interact online. We are still in the early days of VR and interactive toys and other technologies. Imagine for just a small example when the 3D printers will be affordable and the model will be able to “print” the customer’s toy.
XBIZ: What trends or challenges do you see changing the cam industry in the next three years?
Gheorghe: Everyone is looking into trends that are still far away, such as VR, but almost nobody is developing online interactive tools, such as games that you can play with a performer, for example.
Live chat is not just about sex in my opinion; however most of the cam companies are searching for ways to add more sexual things and interactive sex toys. I am amazed that no one has created a cam site — a totally non-adult site — that you can advertise in mainstream. Like a dating site but with online performers and profiles.
There are a lot of ideas that can bring more to the table. Let’s think about that. Besides improving the quality of audio and video, since 1995, there haven’t been too many features added to cam sites.
If I were to run a cam site, I would try new things that do not require customers to own products, like glasses for 3D, VR headsets or whatever else. I would focus first on ways to help models become more interactive with their customers. More “realistic feeling” will mean more time spent by the customers and consequently more money, as well.
XBIZ: What about cams and teledildonics, like Kiiroo? Do you see this as the future?
Gheorghe: There is a future for interactive toys and other technologies, and I am sure they will have a huge success. However, if we are talking about two-way interaction, the customer must buy such a device as well. And most of them, for “wife reasons” for example, won’t do it.
XBIZ: And how about virtual reality and cams? Is that the future?
Gheorghe: The main problem for now is that there are not too many people having the VR devices at home, as there is not too much content for it (videos, games, etc.). The technology itself is incredible, and I really do think it’s just a matter of years until we get there.
XBIZ: Let’s hear about new projects … like AWNews.
Gheorghe: I have a huge list of ideas and projects; some of them are still just concepts, some are work in progress. I am focusing right now on getting the right people on board and to train them for the upcoming projects. AW News for example needs editors, and you need to know the industry to be able to ask the right questions when you interview others and write article. This is the main reason why AWNews.com took so long to be launched.
We just got back from AWCampus, a competition for models, and we are planning a studios gathering, called AWStudios for next spring. Obviously we are working hard on preparing the AWSummit and the AWAwards, even if there are more than six months until the event itself.
We are also working on a very original search engine and aggregator for cam models across many cam sites; hopefully it will be done by the end of the year. And, of course, there are many other cam-related projects as well that we are working on at the same time.
XBIZ: What’s a typical work day like?
Gheorghe: What is beautiful and keeps me going is that 99 percent of the time I don’t have a routine. Every new day comes with new things, new ideas, new opportunities that I am discussing with my team. And by the way, it’s important to have in your team people that you enjoy working with. For me it’s very important to have the right vibe or mojo inside the building.
XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?
Gheorghe: This is a very difficult question to ask from a workaholic. However, I like soccer, history, watching documentaries, traveling and spending time with people I enjoy to be with.