FD Magazine 2023

FD Magazine about successful entrepreneurship in the erotic industry

On November 11th 2023, the renowned Dutch medium Financial Newspaper published an article in which three successful entrepreneurs in the erotic industry talk about their work. Owner Marike of high-end escortservice Society Service was also interviewed for this. The article appeared online on the FD website and a few days later also in the weekend edition of FD magazine, the weekend supplement of the Dutch Financial Newspaper. You can also view the article below, as well as an English translation. 

They operate in the erotic industry

Open a business account, apply for a mortgage or be found on the internet. Not easy if you are an entrepreneur in the erotic industry. Despite taboos and prejudices, these people run a successful business.

Marike van der Velden (39) wanted to start her own business after her master's degree in Enterpreneurship & New Business Venturing in Rotterdam. A little provocation was allowed. She therefore founded high-end escort agency Society Service in 2006.

'Setting up a high-end escort agency was an easy form of business in 2006. We were one of the first at the time and because the internet was emerging, a few thousand euros of starting capital was enough. Now you need at least 25,000 euros for a good website, apart from all legal and administrative costs. A total of 60 escorts work independently at Society Service, who can be booked at a fixed rate of 300 to 400 euros per hour. Society Service retains a third of this. I receive 500 applications per month, from which a maximum of one or two escorts will be selected.'

'The selection is strict, because while a regular escort agency focuses on satisfying physical needs, a high-end escort agency also revolves around in-depth, intellectual contact. The client seeks warmth, attention and humor. An average booking takes six hours. That would be too long for most people for just the physical part. That is why an escort first gets to know the client, for example during a museum visit or a Michelin star dinner.'

'Escort work remains a form of prostitution, and that is why the safety of the escorts is important. In addition to thorough verification of the client, for example via the online identification tool iDIN, we do not allow bookings to start at twelve o'clock at night and we call the escort after each booking to ask how it was. Sometimes a client wants to switch to the physical part too quickly or limits are pushed. Just like in real life, it should be as fun as possible for both parties and there is no room for inappropriate behavior. We also safeguard the privacy of the escort and the client by not sharing intimate information via WhatsApp. We manage requests and bookings with an app designed especially for us.'

Bad apples in the escort sector

'As an entrepreneur, I am of course the odd one out and experience resistance more often than other entrepreneurs, especially in contact with financial institutions. I can show you a list of a hundred organizations that did not want to work with me. I was rejected by nine out of ten banks when I tried to apply for a mortgage for a house and it was difficult for me to get building insurance for this office building. As if I have twenty escorts housed here or have bags of cash lying around. The bank's Know Your Customer Check (part of counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering policy, ed.) is also much more extensive and I experience difficulty finding new payment providers.'

'I've heard all the excuses. Companies say that they are not allowed to offer their services to people in this sector, they want to exclude certain risks or it is contrary to their integrity policy. On the one hand, I understand that I am under a magnifying glass; There are plenty of bad apples in this sector who do not arrange their affairs properly. On the other hand, it is a shame that entrepreneurs like me are excluded, because it complicates the process of making the erotic industry more transparent.'

'I have also lost some friendships by choosing this path. I can now ignore certain reactions or raised eyebrows. I never lie out of shame, but at parties where I don't know anyone I usually say that I am an accountant, because I don't want to provoke and want to prevent people from bombarding me with questions, which become more and more bold as the alcohol flows.'

'Despite the challenges, I am happy when clients say that they have started dating again after a booking, who dare to express more clearly what they need in their own relationship or people with disabilities who have been touched after a long time. That can be quite emotional for them, but also provide more self-confidence. I get satisfaction from that.'