China's first internet matchmaker

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Gong Haiyan, founder and CEO of [File photo]

Gong Haiyan, founder and CEO of [File photo]

"1,800,000 couples fell in love here. And that number is climbing with 5,000 more every day."

33-year-old Gong Haiyan is now engaged in a centuries-old profession -- matchmaking. However, compared with mothers and grandmothers who choose this as their career, she arranges her matchmaking via the internet.

Gong Haiyan founded China's first matchmaking website when she was still a graduate student. After obtaining her Master's Degree in Fudan University, she continued with this practice.

"I found more than half of my classmates, including myself, were single. It seemed difficult for us to find a lover. We needed a platform by which we could make more friends and find more opportunities."

To meet more friends, the internet was the best platform, for it has reached into almost every aspect of Chinese people's daily lives. With the idea to help her classmates and herself find true love, Gong Haiyan thought why not set up a website by which users could put up personal photos and information about their age, job, salary, education, interests, and personality. In 2003, China's first matchmaking website,, whose name was later changed to was launched by Gong Haiyan. But the response was not initially as good as Gong expected.

"In the beginning, no one registered. I persuaded one of my friends, a graduate student in Shanghai's Tongji University to allow me to put up her photos and information on the website. Four days later, I got the second member in the same way. The only thing I could do was persuade my relatives and friends around me to register and promote the website."

Apart from limited influence among internet users, a lack of knowledge and computer editing skills was another big challenge for Gong Haiyan.

"Very few women engaged in an IT career because we didn't consider ourselves to be good with those necessary skills. I had to learn a lot of basic knowledge about computers and programs, such as PowerPoint and Photoshop."

When Gong was struggling after the launch of the website, some good news encouraged her to continue on.

"A Shanghai boy working in Singapore as a doctor met a girl working in Dalian through our website. They sent a set of wedding photos to me to express their gratitude after they got married. I felt my efforts were not wasted."

Through continued efforts and word of mouth marketing on the internet, the number of registers began to dramatically increase. Now, Gong Haiyan has more than 17,000,000 registered members.

Around 4,000,000 of them have found spouses through the website, including Gong Haiyan herself.

"I got his matrimonial notice on the BBS of a university. I only hoped to persuade him to register on my website and didn't realize he might be suitable for me. I helped him polish his matrimonial notice to make it more accessible. After that, we didn't contact each other. A period of time later, a friend of mine saw his matrimonial notice and recommended him to me, saying we might be suitable for each other."

Gong Haiyan's friend was right. Gong and the man fell in love at first sight. One month later, they were married. Their lightning marriage was a good advertisement for Numerous couples followed in their footsteps and also married quickly.

Yang Ye is a Chinese guy who had settled down in Australia for 10 years and hadn't found a suitable spouse. He met a Chinese girl on and married her within two months.

"I'm a bit traditional. It's hard for me to find a suitable Chinese girl overseas. At that time, one of my roommates recommended the website to me. I was very lucky to find her. I talked to her for quite a few days and got to know her. I found that she was the wife I'd been dreaming of, so I decided to come back to China to meet her. We got married in 2007. Now we have a lovely daughter together."

In the view of Yang Ye's wife, Guo Yingxian, is an ideal platform for shy girls to get more opportunities to meet suitable men.

"When I was old enough to marry, my friends and relatives began to introduce boys to me. But I was too shy to speak with strangers. So I missed several good opportunities to meet nice guys. But I was more open to communicate with strangers via the internet. I'm grateful to the website. I met my husband there. He's much better than I could ever have hoped for, so we were married within a short time."

Indeed, a large number of members have realized their dreams on Now, Gong Haiyan is acclaimed as China's first internet matchmaker.

"What I'm doing now is quite different from traditional matchmaking. I've just set up a platform for internet users to search for lovers by themselves. I never push them and the success rate is quite high."

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