The Story Behind Gentlemint (and What's Next)
by glen on Wednesday, February 08, 2012
What a short, strange trip it's been.
In the past several weeks, Gentlemint has gone from having two users (Brian and I) to having thousands, with tens of thousands more waiting to start using the site. This begs the question—how did this happen and why the wait to join?
To understand the answer, you should first know the story of Gentlemint.
Brian and myself are co-workers at our day job, and we had been working on an amazing but challenging side project for over two years without so much as a public beta. So in order to shake things up a bit, we decided to take a single day and build a simple website, from start to finish. We decided on the concept of a "manly social site", one built with the mindset that if the site never did anything, at least the two of us would get a chuckle out of it.
When the day of our "hack day" came (a little over two months ago), we went out and bought the manliest-sounding bourbon we could find—'Old Grandad', for those keeping track—and got to work. We spent the next 12 hours working furiously on what would eventually become the guts of Gentlemint, along with a design that frankly, just got the job done. Once our 12 hours were up, we hit "publish" on Gentlemint.com, promptly smoked a celebratory cigar, and we've never looked back.
Fast forward about 6 weeks. We'd managed to make a few improvements from that hack day, improving both the design and functionality of the site. Brian and I were still the only people using the site, simply posting manly links and trying to get a laugh out of the other. We were having a great deal of fun with the site, so we decided to let a few friends in and try to make them laugh. I shared the link with some friends, and a few tweets and a couple days later we were featured on Mashable.
Before we knew it, we had thousands of people sieging Gentlemint's keep, all clamoring to register for the site. At the exact same second. Ever since hitting that point, Brian and I have been in "survival" mode, just trying to bolster the tech behind the site, and keep up with the email requests, interviews, feedback, questions, and everything else that comes with a lot of people digging your site at the same time. We've had to shelve needed features that we were nearly ready to release in order to keep the tide at bay.
This all happened three weeks ago folks.
Don't get us wrong: this is the best problem in the world to have. We're absolutely blown away by how people have come to love the site and the awesome contributions they make to it. People genuinely like the site, and love sharing it with their friends.
But getting back to the original question, why can't we just let everyone in?
Put simply, we have a great, small community of users and continually doubling or tripling the size of the community overnight (which is essentially what we'd have to do to keep up with demand) would ruin the experience for our current users and make things very challenging for us to keep up with.
For those who have signed up to the invite list, don't worry, you're still there. You'll be in soon, and thanks for being patient with us.
What's next for Gentlemint?
We love the site, and we love helping to build the community that has blossomed on Gentlemint over the past few weeks. So, for the immediate future, that's what's next. We'll be releaseing a bunch of improvements to the site within the week, improvements that make things easier on Gentlemint users. Categorization of tacks, search, and a better way to save tacks that you like or find interesting are all on the way.
Thanks and stay smooth,
Brian and Glen