Brandon Wade thinks monogamy can be monotonous. "The majority of people are not swingers," he said, "but they probably are monogamish." What does that mean? "You get a hall pass to date others."
Wade has pioneered niche dating sites for years. The MIT graduate and former Booz Allen consultant and General Electric employee failed in the dotcom world until he landed on what he loved: love. "My inspiration was all the problems and challenges I suffered," he said, describing himself as painfully shy. "I was trying to solve my pains."
In 2006 he launched SeekingArrangement.com, the original "sugar daddy" dating site. It now has 4 million paying monthly subscribers.
Other dating sites followed, like WhatsYourPrice.com, where people "bid" on a first date with a woman. No, it's not prostitution, Wade explained. Payment helps compensate a woman for her own investment—"It's quite costly for any woman to go on a first date with a guy."
Wade said SeekingArrangement will bring in $30 million in revenue this year "and is profitable." WhatsYourPrice will clear about $10 million.
And now, for his next act, Wade has created OpenMinded.com, "a safe and stigma-free environment that brings the ease and flexibility of online dating to the currently underserved world of open relationships." (Tweet This)
"The traditional model of marriage and monogamy isn't working out for everyone," Wade told CNBC. "In my own case, after three or four years, things get monotonous. ...I think a lot of people suffer from that, especially men."
The site launched in March and already boasts more than 50,000 members, nearly half of them couples. Men or couples pay $19.95 a month, single women pay only $4.95 a month. Forty percent of members are between the ages of 18 and 35, with 38 percent between 35 and 50 years old.
Wade said membership is growing at a faster rate than for Seeking Arrangement, and he believes one reason is because OpenMinded is different from other sites targeting swingers.
"Many sites have a very adult feel to them," including nude pictures, "which is quite a turnoff for younger individuals who approach this from a more scientific perspective."
Wade said no nudity is allowed in members' public profiles, though private folders can be more revealing. "Our goal is to keep the porn out and keep the site classy," he said.
One member is a man in his late 30s named Terrance, who works in Los Angeles as a bodyguard for celebrities.
"My goal is to network and meet with—first as friendship—like-minded people," he said, adding that he joined "the open lifestyle" in 2007 with his girlfriend at the time. They joined a few sites dedicated to swingers, but he found that it became difficult once he was single again.
He likes OpenMinded, he said, because he considers it "more classy and a bit more professional" than other sites. He hasn't met anyone yet, but he is exchanging emails with a couple. "Not every relationship is a traditional type," he said.
Terrance believes OpenMinded filters out undesirables with tools like the monthly membership fee. His advice to couples thinking of trying out the open lifestyle is to make sure you and your partner are on the same page and know each other's comfort level. For those who consider the entire premise distasteful, or possibly immoral, Terrance politely disagrees.
"These are very normal people who are very much in love. We are not into damaging people, we just have a different sense of fantasy fulfillment."
OpenMinded allows people to identify themselves by more than 50 different gender labels—using such terms as "Agender" and "Neutrois"—though Wade said 95 percent of those joining the site just declare themselves male or female.
So has his string of dating sites helped Wade "solve" his own pains? He said he's on his third marriage, and he has not met any of his wives through the sites.
When asked whether he and his current wife plan to join OpenMinded, Wade replied, "We've talked about this." He said if monogamy becomes monotonous, "as long as we've talked through it and are honest with each other, we would consider a monogamish relationship."
In the meantime, he's building more businesses. Wade is now working on a site that matches people with matchmakers. He knows if he had stayed at Booz Allen he probably would have made a very nice living, "but I would have no time to enjoy life. I'd rather get rich doing something that I love."
He thanks his mother for his success. "My mother always told me to focus on school. 'One day you'll be successful, all the girls will be there,'" he said.