Hello my name is Tom and I built CupidMarket.com.
Web 2.0. Social media. Big, vague words that conjure images of the million-dollar social networking sites that dominate the web. Facebook. MySpace. Eharmony. Daunting competition for a company, let alone an individual, to compete with, yes?
I asked myself the question: What if, in today's modern environment, with modern frameworks and development tools, what if I could create a competing social networking / dating site, in 1 / 10th the time, and for a fraction of the budget ($0) of these big companies, and actually create something that people would want to use?
So I sat down, and 79 hours later you have the site you see before you. It cost me $0, and only the time it took to build. This is two weeks of work at a 'real' job -- I built it over a span of months, in the spare time I wasn't at my day job (I offer Information Technology and Internet Marketing services through my company, Gab Internet eCommunities, if you're wondering what I do). How did I build this complex site, you ask, with so little budget and over such a short span of time?
Open-source. Ok I lied, two hyphenated words.
Open-source frameworks. Open-source products.
I built the main site in Grails, the free Ruby on Rails equivalent for Java (which was originally called Groovy on Rails - hence GRails). I had tried out Ruby on Rails, but didn't really like the syntax of Ruby, coming from a Java upbringing, and when I tried Grails I was sold. Plus the benchmarks showed that Grails was 10x faster and more scalable --> see the graphs below. If you don't know much about Grails, I suggest you visit their site, Grails.org, to learn more. Grails itself is built on open-source products: Groovy as the scripting language, Spring MVC as the Model-View-Controller engine, Hibernate for persistence.
The Dating Forums are powered by the open-source PHPbb, the Dating Articles are powered by Wordpress, and the chat system is running AjaxIM. All free, all open-source.
Because everything was open-source, I was very easily able to integrate them all. There's a single sign-in to access IM, Forums, and the main site. I could have even integrated the logon with Wordpress MU , with a thought to allow users to post their own blog entries, but eventually decided against it. This is a dating site, after all, not a blog site. Blogging is out of scope (and besides, I was at the 75 hour mark at that point).
So that's how I did it. This site, an experiment in integration and open-source viability, demonstrates that it is entirely possible to put together a social networking/dating site, comparable in quality to the eHarmony's and Match.com's of the world, at no cost and for as little time as possible. 79 hours. The results are pretty impressive, wouldn't you say? Oh sure, I'm not the best graphic designer in the world, but I believe I've created a usable site, that has all the features of the big guys and more.
In early 2009 I read somewhere (can't remember where.. if anyone knows shoot me an email), that it was now impossible for new free online dating sites to obtain any ranking in the search engines, or to attract users, without expending huge dollars on advertising (either online or offline). Well, I couldn't help but laugh when I saw that. I've already proved that a social networking site can indeed be made very cheaply, with little time, given modern frameworks and open-source technology. Next I will prove that users and market share can be gained without spending $20,000 a day on advertising like Mate1 or eHarmony. I'll add a blog post under Dating Articles in a few months with a status update. Let's see how I do.
Time to prove the pundits wrong.