Prime domain name launches as an event-centric social networking site for the jewish crowd
Yehuda Ben Hanan has good reason to feel lucky.
As the owner of Mazeltov.com, the Agoura Hills-based software consultant boasts one of the catchiest domain names on the Internet, a prize he acquired for the bargain price of $0.
It all started in 1995, when the World Wide Web was just beginning to take off. Like many forward-thinking technology buffs at that time, the now 62-year-old native of Israel snatched up the domain name for free, convinced it could be the seed for a great Internet-based business.
“I just grabbed it,” Ben Hanan recounted. “In 1995, the Internet was the Wild West.”
The businessman had no immediate plans for the site. In fact, he says the name simply occurred to him one day as he sat around searching for domains. But given the phrase’s association with happy occasions, Ben Hanan decided whatever he did with the site would be related to celebrations.
In 2000, he thought he was ready, and he hired a developer and programmer to put a Web site together. He envisioned Mazeltov.com as a type of social network, but these were the days before anyone ever heard of Facebook. Although the site took off as a classified page for matchmaking, Ben Hanan found it was too much work to keep going, so he took it offline.
Fast forward to today. Ben Hanan’s children are grown and his work schedule is less taxing. Now, the time really is right, he said.
With the help of a small team of collaborators, he has crafted Mazeltov.com into what he hopes will become the Jewish community’s premier event-focused social networking site. Part Facebook, part Evite, with aspects of Groupon and the Yellow Pages thrown in, Mazeltov.com offers an all-in-one option for planning and celebrating weddings and other special events through the Internet. It officially launched Jan. 1.
Using the site
Mazeltov.com’s main goal is to provide people with a central, virtual location from which to organize and communicate information about an event. For couples planning a wedding, the site can be used to send out electronic invitations to guests, keep track of RSVPs, provide updates and exchange messages with attendees, and share videos and photos of the big day.
The couple also can access a directory of wedding-related businesses to help with their planning. Guests, meanwhile, can shop for gifts while automatically contributing a portion of their spending to charity. They can even send money to the bride and bridegroom via PayPal in an electronic “MazelCard.” The shopping and directory portions of the site are still under development, but Ben Hanan expects rapid expansion as Mazeltov.com gains momentum.
“It gives you the ability to organize all your memories as a scrapbook, buy the gift on the Web, and concentrate your videos and photos and discussions related to the events easily,” Ben Hanan said. “It brings a smile to your face quickly. All under one roof.”
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