Long lost student friends get together on the Net
Former students of Britain's universities and colleges can now find long lost
friends – thanks to a new free to use reunion website . Gradumates (http://www.gradumates.co.uk) features all the UK’s higher education establishments in its database.
Launching this week, the website is the brain-child of Michael Duffy, founder of the Click Thinking web consultancy and himself a UK graduate. “Unlike most reunion websites Gradumates is free to use,” explains Michael. “There is no charge for e-mailing former friends, so we expect the website to become very popular with people searching for old mates. Plus our target market is very attractive for advertisers- hence we have gone for the "free" business model.”
There are, according to the company, over 6 million former graduates in the UK and this figure is growing steadily year by year. “Our website covers the former student population,” continues Duffy, “as student days are a very special time for many people and also a period in their lives when some of their best ever friendships are formed. But then following graduation, due to mobility factors, student friends are dispersed all around the country and very many lose touch as the years slip by.”
“I graduated in the 80’s and have lost touch with pretty much everyone now. So at least the website will help me for one!”
The company cite the famous American website Classmates.com as their original inspiration, rather than any current British reunion website. “Classmates claim to have over 23 million registrants and are one of the biggest websites in the world,” explains Duffy. “Well maybe the Americans are more sociable than us, but at least with our website you get a private online mail-box. So if someone mails you that you’d rather not have heard from, well you can always ignore them! That’s the British twist!”
Gradumates is hoping that roughly 10% of the country’s former graduates register with it over the next 12-18 months. “A figure of 500,000 registered users would give us a really worthwhile website that would be doing a lot of good out there. These type of sites have historically spread by word of mouth and users passing on the web address in e-mails to friends, so we’re hoping to benefit from similar behaviour. Especially as, very unusually, we are free to use.”
The website’s owners claim they are not trying to compete with the “mass-market” but hugely popular Friends Reunited reunion site, but rather are attempting to provide a niche service for the higher education sector that will be more relevant both to its target users and to advertisers.
“I envisage many of our users will also have used the Friends Reunited site,” adds Duffy “But many of
them will appreciate that we are free to use. Joining Gradumates is a casual and easy commitment, so both sites could easily sit side by side, with our site perhaps one day becoming the preferred choice for college and university old friends. We’ll have to see.”
"We have built the site in-house and have a very small marketing budget. We have seen the old dot-com cash-burn to bust model, and will not go down that route. Our experiment will see if you can build a profitable, high profile website from scratch, on a budget, but one that can survive and pay its way purely by advertising. Our overheads are small, the website is largely automated, so we'll now see if the concept works. The website will, in the meantime, not impact on the rest of our web design business."
The web address of the Gradumates site is, quite simply http://www.gradumates.co.uk .
Web addresses : http://www.gradumates.co.uk & http://www.clickthinking.co.uk
Click Thinking Limited
29 Leyland Road
Tel: 01704 548845
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