As mobile apps continue to dominate our lives, SCRUFF, the two-year-old online social-network for bears, jocks and guys next door, has just stepped up its game with a brand new iteration, SCRUFF Version 3.
We cruised co-founder Johnny Skandros and got him to unlock info on the company, its impact on gay life and where he’s taking SCRUFF next.
What made you decide to launch SCRUFF?
I thought about the kind of guys I liked and realized that most of them were scruffy. It’s a name that encompasses the bear community but can also include a diverse range of guys. My friend and co-founder Eric Silverberg and I launched it in July 2010. We have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the name and the brand since day one, and we recently became the top-grossing gay app in the iTunes App Store!
Why do you think it rose above so many of the other geo-locational social apps?
“Scruff” is a hot term that evokes an image that is attractive to a lot of different guys. Check out our global grid and you’ll see what we mean—lots of scruff and non-scruffy guys as well, which is great. Plus, SCRUFF continues to be one of the most feature-rich apps on the market, and we’ve become even better since the launch of SCRUFFf Version 3 this month.
Plus, we’ve had several celebrity promotions, including Babydaddy from Scissor Sisters and [UK rugby star] Ben Cohen, who both took photos in our SCRUFF t-shirt. We’ve also sponsored some of the largest gay events in the country, like Folsom Street Fair, Lazy Bear and Bearracuda.
In general, is there a kind of guy you’d see more of on SCRUFF—a certain age or type or nationality?
SCRUFF has become a very diverse community that welcomes all kinds of gay men. I frequently see guys that are no-nonsense and have profiles that are authentic. We have a lot of athletes, military guys, students, geeks, and guys next door.
What are some of the new features you’ve launched?
We’ve launched more a dozen new features with SCRUFF 3, but my favorites are the advanced search option and private albums. Our members could always search guys in other geographies, but now they can filter by attributes like name, age, relationship status and, yes, even body hair! With private albums you can easily share more photos with guys you like. A full list of features can be found at Scruffapp.com/
Some people say apps like SCRUFF and Grindr have utterly changed how gay men socialize—that they’ve killed nightlife, for example. Do you think that’s true?
I think gay apps have actually helped the bar scene. SCRUFF can be a great way to advertise an event or club to a mass audience, and we see new events added to our calendar on a daily basis. Gay men still want to go out and have drinks, meet people, dance, and socialize with their friends. Neither apps nor the Internet will change that. Our recent party at Legends Club in Manchester, England, drew more than 850 people— largest party they’ve seen in a decade.
[Ed. note: view a video of the party below]
How has SCRUFF changed since you and Eric launched it?
We’ve grown to be one of the largest gay social networks in the world, with over 2.5 million downloads spanning across 180 countries and 6 continents, and our latest numbers put us in the top 0.0001% of all apps on the iTunes App Store. SCRUFF is also the most international gay social dating service out there: Our members have helped us translate SCRUFF into 10 different languages, including French, Russian, traditional and simplified Chinese, German, Greek and even Arabic.
We also have one of the most active gay Facebook pages on the Web, with more than 150,000 subscribers across our pages, and we’ve seen our subscriber count double in the past six months. I frequently post updates about our business, events, or just gay life in general on my personal page and on our app page. I think utilizing social media to connect with our members is valuable, and Facebook has become a great way for us to connect to our members and let them see a personal side of SCRUFF.
Where do you see yourself taking SCRUFF in the future?
SCRUFF will be reinvesting in its tablet versions to really take advantage of the new form factors and better screens that have been launched on iOS and Android. We also plan on doing much more in the way of recommendations and discovery—we have a lot of data we can use to help our members find guys they like more easily. We also plan on improving our events section to make an even better bridge between our members and real-world venues both in their hometowns and travel destinations.
What’s your summer look like?
I’ll be going out and having fun! We focus on events that we organize and promote,like the Manchester party, and SCRUFF and I also make a cameo in Bear City 2, so I’ll be doing various events and film-festival appearances this summer.
On a more personal note, have you met anyone special on SCRUFF?
I get this question quite a bit :-) I’ve certainly had my fair share of fun being single in New York City. However, I’m ready for a steady boyfriend or LTR. I dated a guy recently for two months, but nothing serious solidified so I’m back on the market full force!
You hear that boys? Find Johnny and millions of other guys worldwide on SCRUFF.