Okay, so you are on this site because you are making wedding preparations but perhaps your best friend or even your chief bridesmaid doesn’t have a date for your big day. And perhaps she’s had quite enough jokes made, thank you very much, on whether she and the best man are going to ‘hook up’ after the ceremony. Or perhaps I should be addressing this paragraph to the groom about his ushers (it’s not all women that read internet wedding sites you know, almost half our readership are men!). So, if you are a groom reading this then perhaps your ushers have a problem; they don’t fancy the bridesmaids and would much rather go to the wedding with a date than try and find one there.
An Interesting Story
Well, we thought we’d like to tell you an interesting story and perhaps at the end of it, you’ll mail off the URL to ‘any’ friends of yours who are coming to your wedding and don’t have dates. This is the story of a young Irish man who found himself single and isolated one Christmas and decided to do something about it.
But first to speed right to the present day. Any of you reading the papers recently would have seen that Google billionaires, Page and Brin, were in Dublin recently to open their new offices. At a very formal ceremony presided over by the Tanaiste, Mary Harney, she paid tribute to the two young Internet whizzes and then compared them to local success story – Kevin Greene. ‘Who he?’ I hear you ask. Well, he is the young single man I spoke of earlier. The not so single, but still young, founder of AnotherFriend.com which is why I need you to read on – for the sake of all your single friends.
AnotherFriend.com is that rare beast; a successful online company. As the name hints it is an online dating agency developed and run in Limerick in Ireland. Currently there are more than 50,000 members and in excess of 2 million messages have been exchanged across the site by people looking for friendship and romance, although not necessarily in that order. The site, although only three years in existence, has already produced three weddings and a lot of very happy people if the feedback forms are anything to go by.
Greene finds his career makes for lively dinner table conversation but for as many people that look slightly aghast at him when he tells them what he does, others are busy writing down the website address in their notebooks. Internet dating in Ireland is no longer an outcast but is being embraced by an increasing number of single people, as AnotherFriend.com’s growing membership will testify to.
How did Greene end up no longer single
But where did the concept come from and how did Greene end up no longer single? As he remembers: “I went home to Limerick one Christmas in 2000. I had been working in Dublin but loved to get home for that special holiday. Only this year, it wasn’t that hectic as all my friends seemed to have become engaged or married. As a result, apart from family events I found myself single and very much at a loose end. During this week, the bones of AnotherFriend.com were written.”
A present of Commodore computer when Greene was eleven
Greene had been in the IT industry for a number of years prior. An early love of computers resulted in a birthday present of a Commodore computer when he was eleven. “I was delighted to receive this present which paved the way for my interest later on. However, I have to admit there is more processing power in the average mobile phone today than in my Commodore then. It was very basic but it did the job of converting me into a computer addict.”
After Greene finished school, he studied a City & Guilds course in the Mid West Business Institute in Limerick. This was a two year computer course but back in 1988 there were little or no jobs in IT and Greene found himself working in a video shop following graduation.
Greene knew that his life was not going to remain in retail and attended another course in his spare time, this time with FAS. The course was on computers but also covered the internet which was just beginning to emerge as a communications medium in the mid 90s. Greene was totally smitten and shortly afterwards set up a web development and design course.
Again, Greene found the actual mechanics were less than favourable. “For most people today, used to fast internet access and even broadband, it is difficult to describe just how slow the internet was – or rather how slow access was via an ordinary phone line.
“I used to log onto the internet and click to download a page, any page. Then I typically went off to make a cup of tea as it downloaded – it was that slow!”
Greene was using IOL which was based in Galway for his access to the Internet. This meant not only slow access but STD rated calls. “I could only really afford to log on at weekends when the trunk call rates were cheaper,” he remembers.
Hire as Internet Expert
Greene’s innate interest and love of web development led to him to being hired as an internet expert. “There were very few people with any knowledge on the subject and so my past time became the accelerant that advanced my career very rapidly.”
Greene was hired by a number of blue chip companies to work on their websites, internal and external. He worked with Intel on its scoilnet.ie, as well as internally with AOL and Ericsson. However, just as his career was taking off, the dot.com era crashed and he found himself without any jobs in the corporate IT world.
AnotherFriend.com – 2000
Not to be discouraged, Greene again looked to his leisure interests to drive his career. AnotherFriend.com had been setup in 2000 and was ticking along nicely. But as Greene moved into running the website fulltime, the site began to grow very quickly.
“I looked to the American market for guidance,” said Greene. “Typically what is popular in the US makes it way here after a couple of years or so. Internet dating is very commonplace in the states and has become increasingly so here. As people work longer hours they find it more difficult to met new people outside work. There is also more people coming back onto the relationship market following separation or divorce and while they want to meet new people, they are not interested in going to singles bars.
“The beauty of online dating is that people can get to know possible partners over time through email and then meet at a time and location that suits both of them. It is much more pleasant than trying to find a romance in the nightclubs or bars.”
Greene’s vision has paid off. In December 2001, he received his first payment from the business and today it employs four people full time and two part time. Greene’s own working hours are still very long, but that is factor of being an owner manager.
“I find that I can still be working on the site in the early hours of the morning,” admits Greene. “This is a combination of being able to do maintenance when there is little traffic on the site but also I find once I begin to tackle a technology issue, I just keep going on – it’s addictive!”