This Australian Startup Will Let You Rent A Friend For Up To $60 An Hour

Friends: With enough of them, you might even get a TV show. Photo: IMDB

A new web site will allow Australians to hire platonic friends for “endless possibilities” with one caveat: no physical contact allowed.

Friends For Hire will open its doors to pre-registered members on 22 March, after a three-month, full-time development effort by Queensland communications agency Wildside Group.

Co-founder and managing partner Josh Blundell declined to disclose costs of the project but said he and business partner Jackson Hogan had invested “a lot of time and money” into it, including costs of a three-person web development team, and marketing campaigns on Gumtree, Facebook and Craigslist.

Friends For Hire divides users into two categories: “friends” who may charge up to $60 an hour for their company, and “members” who pay the friends directly as well as a $5 weekly membership fee to the website.

The site has some 1,500 pre-registered “friends for hire” so far.

Blundell insisted that the site was not intended as a romantic matchmaking service nor a platform for soliciting sexual services.

“Every member and friend [relationship] is going to be different, depending on what their needs are,” he said, highlighting as examples members seeking company in a new city, gym buddies, “friends” to converse with them in a new language, or to confide in over the phone.

“It’s definitely not a dating website. It’s for people who are lonely, without the expectation that things will move beyond a platonic friendship.

“If anyone was found to be outside the terms of service, we would remove them from the site.”

Wildside Group is based in the coastal city of Townsville but the founders expect Friends For Hire to be more popular in larger centres like Sydney and Melbourne.

“There are a larger number of transient people and a more dense population [in big cities], with friendships already formed and a larger number of people looking for friendships,” he explained.

“I think it’s getting harder to meet people at the pub these days, especially with the introduction of social media, with people generally looking for more than platonic friendships.”