Back in 2001 after my birthday someone in the office introduced me to online dating sites. I went back to my desk and checked out udate.com and kiss.com and lavalife/web personals. I was bored and I wanted to chat with people. I was really annoyed when I found out you had to pay for everything, I ended up telling the girl who introduced me to the sites that I could do better and make them for free, so I went and registered Plentyoffish.com. All I ever ended up doing was creating an index page and forgot about it.
Fast forward to 2003, I had been jumping jobs every couple of months from one sinking ship to another. I had just joined a new company with 30 employees on Dec 1st of 2002, by the time Feb rolled around 15 people had already been laid off and I started to worry. I started thinking about finishing my site and learning asp.net at the same time and I wondered why people didn’t come rushing to join. I quickly started building my site and actually made it somewhat functional although most pages where in asp, others in asp.net. Somehow I ran across this site http://www.cre8asiteforums.com, once there I was introduced to the concept of SEO, boy did that open my eyes. I started exchanging links with everyone and anyone and finally got a bit of traffic. Then I sat back and waited for the famous google dance, the once a month update. At the start of March google updated and I got pagerank, but still not much traffic and I made my first post here asking for help.
At the start of March I had ~40 members my site was running off my home machine, people where complaining I didn’t allow image uploading so by mid march I had added image uploading. You can see how absolutely horrible the site looked here. By the end of March my site went viral and started growing 2 to 5% a day and it was off to the races from there. I was still developing on the live site/home machine and I always prayed nothing would crash.
Then at the end of June Adsense came out up until then I had no real way of monetizing my site. I had a single affiliate program but it didn’t even make $40/month. I went and added Adsense pretty quick, I made a whole $5.63 cents my first month, but that was more then enough for me to realize that I wouldn't go broke running the site and I could make a business out of this with enough traffic. In my evenings I started working really hard on my site learning asp.net trying to convert my hastily put together asp pages to asp.net and trying to add more pages/functionality. I was doing the Beta thing before it was cool. I was updating/building the live site every couple of minutes, if the site crashed I didn’t really care, only took a few seconds to fix it.
I once again complained in my thread about my sites lack of SEO results it was September of 2003, I had 10k signups now and only a ~100 visitors a day from google and other 2,000 unique visitors a day from who knows where. By the time October rolled around my site was rolling, I quit my job at the start of the month and FINALLY went and bought a little server and moved my site to a hosting provider at the end of October. Still can’t believe I ran my site off my home computer for the first 8 months.
My short description leaves a lot out, but basically I spent every waking minute when I wasn't at my day job reading, studying, and learning. I picked out "enemies" and did everything I could to defeat them which ment being bigger then them. I refused to accept defeat of any kind, and I constantly forced myself to test new things. I never tried to perfect anything it didn't matter if things didn't work 100% as long as it was good enough I would move onto the next thing. In 2003 the dating market was growing 80% a year unlike the -10% in 2006 so growth was a LOT easier. When 2004 rolled around and word of mouth REALLY kicked in and as they say the rest is history.
I look back now at how ill prepared I was, I didn't know anything about SEO, Advertising, community and I didn't even know what Venture Capital was. Just goes to show you anyone can do anything.