Mr. Money Mustache had an idea of Mustachian Tinder since at least 2017, mostly as a joking feature of his app. E.g. he mentioned it in his Twitter and YC interview. Unfortunately, it wasn't implemented yet. So far only his forum section "Mustachian and Single" allows one to find a FIRE-minded partner (which has posts from 2012). It was actually requested by the users (MMM's post).
Overall an idea of Financial Independence dating website has been on everyone's mind even before 2017. Fiery Milleanials mention it in 2016:
Sadly, no FI or Mustachian dating app exists (yet).
This was also voiced on Reddit numerous times:
I'm surprised that no one has suggested any form of FIRE-based dating site. (source)
A FIRE dating app would be a great idea, except no FIRE people would ever pay for it... (source)
Almost for ten years no one even tried to execute this idea. Why? First, as it was already mentioned above, it is a bad idea if you want to make money out of it. FIRE people are frugal, they are unlikely to pay. FIRE movement itself is quite a niche, so monetizing a dating website in some other way seems unrealistic too. At the same time, there are some free workaround ways to find a mustachian partner, like - meetups, Facebook groups, MMM forum section.
Obviously an idea of a dating website for mustachians and people interested in Financial Independence visited me too. In the beginning this was just a random hunch and I didn't know anyone interested in FIRE in person for a very long time. At the same time, my romantic relationship back then was under stress due to my interest in FIRE and my ex didn't like the FIRE philosophy much. We were just different and FIRE made this much more obvious.
Eventually I visited my first ever FIRE meetup - Financial Independence Week Europe 2019 in Budapest (May 2019). It was AMAZING! There was a bunch of random people, all interested in something close to Financial Independence & Early Retirement, but still extremely diverse - some already FI and some in the beginning of their journey, some couples, some families, some singles, some into active Forex trading, majority into ETFs. And all people there were able to find a common language so easily. Even when they disagreed with each other, it was very civilized, people tried to understand and learn from each other (even from completely opposing views). I was impressed.
I was so impressed that I checked with organizers whether they filtered people and, no, they didn't reject any application. Isn't this amazing? You just bring a bunch of people interested in this weird thing called Financial Independence and they just understand each other so well. I definitely felt that I wasn't judged for my ideas and that people assumed good intentions and did their best to understand me. I also had a lot of fun.
Back then I mentioned the idea of FIRE dating, but this was mostly a "what if" joke. Still in my mind I got really curious - perhaps if friendships with people interested in Financial Independence are so easy to built, would the same be true for romantic relationships?
Then I visited FIRE Madrid 2019 in October 2019 and there the idea was officially announced (basically, I was "volunteered" by other FIWE Budapest participants to work on this) and people liked the idea. Looking back, I am extremely grateful for what they did. While "being volunteered" felt weird, it helped me to start and showed that at least some people were interested.
Then I slowly started developing the site in end of 2019. At first I was busy with my other stuff and it was a bit hard to motivate myself. I already gave up to make money with the site and at that point I didn't expect to get anything out of it. I even didn't believe that people would be interested. But still I decided to try.
Then in the beginning of 2020 I decided to make a New Year resolution to work at least one hour a day on my projects (at that point it was only firedating.me). To be honest, this is still going really well (I write this words as part of my hour for today, even though I felt super tired before starting writing and would have never started, if I didn't need to do my hour for today). This kickstarted the progress a lot.
I reached to the communities from the FIRE events I visited and around 10 people became my focus group (I am so grateful to them). I was clarifying my ideas and plans with them, they were voting on proposals, proposing stuff. E.g. they voted for domain name. This was enormous for me. I can't imagine getting anywhere without them. This was January 2020.
Until the end of February I actually reached a somewhat reasonable state to call it a "beta". There was a lot of stuff missing (e.g. we didn't have messaging and city moderation), but still, I decided to start spreading the word. In only 10 days 100 people registered, which was great success for me. I personally created a profile as well to look for romantic relationships offline and unfortunately there were no women from Munich. If you are a lady living in Munich and interested in FIRE, create an account, please!
This success definitely motivated me and also brought many fresh ideas and a lot of feedback. So I implemented various features, like messaging, improving ranking and day by day, one hour at a time, the site was becoming better and better in a way which I couldn't have imagined myself. The development became user driven. I am very grateful to people for their feedback - it would be impossible to get to the current state without them.
In April there were already 500 users. I mostly used Reddit to spread the word and people were overall quite positive (even though some were skeptical).
Eventually I switched my own profile to look for friendships online and this was a very good decision. I quickly met so many interesting people on the site and also I discovered many improvements I could do and my new friends were reporting them to me as well. This definitely helped to develop the site and moreover I could see that people actually find the site useful (and it was useful for me too). With some of them I've been chatting for months, almost daily.
Then (May-June) the growth has got a bit slower and I felt like I advertised everywhere I could reach. It definitely felt like I couldn't do anything more to attract new people. Fortunately, it looks like we were able to cross this boundary and these days (end of June 2020) there is a lot of growth (almost like in the early days). I am happy to see that people share the site with their friends and comment about it on Reddit and Facebook.
I definitely have ideas how to make it better, so that users could meet even more interesting people. E.g. for this week I have a goal to develop proper geographical matching (i.e. have real geo coordinates in the background and allow searching for a specific radius around your city). This would help the users to connect with people nearby. Right now the site does not work too well for this use case, because city matching is quite primitive.
The site is also extremely transparent and you can see key stats yourself. There days it is also even more user driven. Due to the large number of users, my old approach with direct feedback does not scale well anymore (it is hard to see an overall picture and not to get recency bias). So these days I've created a feature board, where everyone can propose something and all users can vote.
Why don't you try the site yourself? I am not aware of anyone marrying yet, but 2 people deleted their accounts because "they found someone on the site". Many (including me) have definitely found their FIRE friends here and greatly increased their FIRE circle (some reported going from 0 FIRE friends to 10). In any way, it is free and private, so you don't lose anything by trying.
Happy dating (or friendship building) and let the FIRE be in your heart!
P.S. I will soon tell you why not making money out of this site didn't stop me in the beginning and does not bother me now :)
TODO: add a link to that post.
P.P.S. it would be amazing if I myself find a partner through the site. That would be a funny "how I met your mother" story.