OPW -- Apr 28 -- Think of a dating site as a shop, with people on the shelves. Dating sites sell people to people. So the first thing a new site must do, is build their stock of people and spend seven figures to build their sites to critical mass so it converts, and is viable. They also have to overcome the operational costs of running customer service, and their sites, and site development. The entrepreneur can choose between developing their own software from scratch, or using an off the shelf package, or using a white label provider.
The majority of people I talk to who have tried to develop software have run into serious problems. If you're going to use software, make sure its with a development group that has developed community/social networking/dating sites in the past. If you have more generic needs you could use an off the shelf package. Off the shelf dating site software is a better bet than developing from scratch in most cases but most packages tend to be buggy and the support costs can add up. My money has always been on using white label services. You can find a list here. White labeling services help negate operational costs, and help entrepreneurs build a profitable businesses extremely quickly by granting them access to an existing base of users. Rather than start one generic site, I'd recommend starting a number of niches. Niche dating sites tend to convert better than generic sites and tend to garner more word-of-mouth exposure amongst their target audiences because of their more focused approach. Let me know how it goes, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post also appears on FrequentFlirters.