Why did you start Buddy Buddy?
I found out that there are around 18.5 million people in Thailand who are single. I also discovered that men and women from the age of 28-38 need a kind of relationship that is somewhere between friend and boyfriend or girlfriend—like a buddy or a partne —as they work hard to earn a living. Many people don’t have time to find someone, though. So, I wanted to create a service aimed at the needs of this group. The business is similar to friend renting in the United States or husband renting in China. Sometimes people just want someone to take care of them.
How does it work?
When a customer rings up, we make an appointment for a face-to-face interview—to ask precisely why they want to rent a friend and what they hope to gain from it. We give them a psychological test, and time them to complete it. To use our service, they must pass. After that, it takes about a week to find a suitable candidate to do the requested tasks. If the customer is satisfied with the candidate’s profile, the deal will be made! During the meet, which can last from a few hours up to a week, we will contact our candidate regularly to make sure they are safe and where they should be.
What sort of requests do you get?
Usually it’s something like a woman asking for a man to go shopping with her or a guy who wants a date for a party. But sometimes we get more outrageous requests, like someone looking for a travel companion on a week-long trip to Europe. That’s why our screening process needs to be rigorous.
We rate every case based purely on the level of client satisfaction. Maybe because Buddy Buddy is not a familiar type of business in Thailand, people don’t really expect a lot from it. That means we’ve had a lot of surprises.
It seems quite a risky business; how do you prevent things from going wrong?
We have a number of rules that need to be strictly followed. Firstly, we keep everything about our clients a secret. We write up contracts for both our staff and clients to sign before any meeting takes place. In addition to our regular calls, we also take many precautions to ensure no one’s cover is blown. This includes the golden rule of only allowing our staff to go on three jobs, just in case they are recognized. Eventually, our customers can become staff and be sent out on jobs, too, and the same rule applies.