In the online dating business, meeting that special someone over broadband can take a lot of courage. Maintaining that connection in the early stages is reliant not only on what the person says, but also on the infrastructure behind the dot-com.
"This isn't like a banking Web site where if the site goes down you will pay your bill tomorrow and the bank still has branches. People go absolutely bananas and if we were down for two or three days that would represent a huge risk to our annual growth rate. If you're in the middle of a conversation with the next big relationship in your life and you can't communicate with that person it's like somebody taking the phone line out of your house; people get very upset very quickly," says Mark Pavan, CEO of Lemontonic, a new online dating service based in Toronto.
"I know at competitor sites when they've had down time it's been quite traumatic for them. It's a real business risk you have to be aware of," said Pavan.
Lemontonic launched in early May and will release services in three stages. It is currently offering its clientele the ability to connect via anonymous e-mail and upload audio and video streams to their profiles. In stage two, the site will introduce customized instant messaging capabilities giving users the ability to connect through streaming text, audio and video. In stage three, Lemontonic will begin charging for the service. Pavan says Lemontonic is targeting professionals and specifically women who are looking for a more polished, more secure way to meet people.
"When we did focus groups with women we discovered there are about 20 per cent of women who will never use the highly interactive services we offer, but the fact we are providing the options provides security. The fact they could use them and verify that that is who the person says they are. At the end of the day, that's the whole crux of it: It provides a level of security."
To address security demands, Lemontonic is using Microsoft Passport. Rather than using a proprietary password system, the site is using fully encrypted connections on all streaming connections. "We are using all Microsoft certified e-commerce and log-in technology and we have rigorous content reviews screened by Lemontonic staff," said Pavan. Lemontonic interviewed six different hosting firms before choosing Vancouver-based Fusepoint Managed Services. What Pavan thought would be a four-week process ended up taking four months.
"Because of the level of complexity to the technical solution we were trying to put in because of the messenger side of it, it took longer. The Web site is pretty mainstream, but to integrate the messaging side and associated databases was a one-off people hadn't done before and that part made the installation quite complex and all new ground, effectively for both parties."
Fusepoint CEO Robert Offley says Lemontonic was focused on delivering the best experience to its clientele and could not risk downtime.
"What they were looking for fell into our sweetspot. They were looking for the highest degree of scalability and performance and what we provide to them is really their business, so we can't afford not to perform," said Offley.