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Meet the Gentlemen Behind Gentlemint

Developer Brian McKinney explains the inspiration and open source technology behind Gentlemint, a new online "mint of manly things."

You might be surprised by how many high tech happenings we see in Lawrence, Kansas. For example, does the Django web framework ring a bell? A new quirky site, Gentlemint — a masculine response to Pinterest — recently went live. In this interview, Lawrence local Brian McKinney explains the inspiration behind the masculine site he and co-conspirator Glen Stansberry rolled out last week.

RE: Tell me about the idea behind Gentlemint. What or who inspired it?

BM: Gentlemint was inspired by a lot of sites on the web that we are interested in and enjoy using. Essentially the idea was to build something in a day that was fun and usable. We talked about a few different ideas, and then decided to build a site focused around posting "manly" content. We thought it was a fun idea, plus it offered a lot of ways to let some of our own quirky personality seep into the design and feel of the site.

RE: What does it look like under the hood? What technologies did you use to develop the site?

BM: Gentlemint is built with the Django web framework and its underlying language, Python. Personally, Django is my favorite platform to build web apps with, and I absolutely love programming in Python. It's a fantastic language with a lot of personality — if a programming language can have personality, and I think it can.

RE: How long did it take to build?

BM: As I mentioned earlier, the goal was to have a hack day and build a functional site in a day. We pulled that off, but just by the skin of our teeth. About six weeks ago, we picked a day and worked for approximately 12 hours or so. By the end of the night, we deployed the code and had a working — albeit barebones — version of how Gentlemint works today. Since then, we've just been adding features and refining what we built that day.

RE: Did anyone help you build the site?

BM: The site was entirely built by two people: Glen Stansberry, handling all of the design, and me doing the dev work. Having such a tiny team with clearly defined roles really helped speed up the iteration and evolution of the site.

RE: Currently the site is in beta. When do you plan to open it to the public?

BM: Heh, great question. We were actually doing pretty well keeping up with things until last week. We ended up getting featured in a lot of online publications and we've just had an tremendous response to the site. It will definitely be a while before we can just open up Gentlemint to the public because, after all, we're just two guys with full-time day jobs. Right now, you'll need to go to http://gentlemint.com/invite/form/ and sign up to receive an invite.

RE: How do you make money from the site?

BM: Wait! You can make money on the Internet!? Right now we are taking a loss on the site and not making a penny. We've talked about some ideas that we have for earning revenue, but really right now we just want to focus on the Gentlemint users and making sure that they have a great experience when they visit the site.

RE: What other sites have you developed?

BM: Glen and I worked together on another site called howdyapp.com. It was actually the unintentional inspiration for the hackday that spawned Gentlemint, because we've been working on howdy for a couple of years now and it's still not ready for primetime. We talked about it and just decided we needed to stop over-thinking things and needed to build something quick and fun. So here we are.

RE: What's next for you?

BM: We're honestly just taking things one day at a time and slowly growing our user base. If you are reading this and are upset because you registered for an invite and we haven't gotten to it yet, we are really, really trying to get to you but we've just been besieged by requests. We're working on a couple of key features to the site that will probably be deployed in the next week and then will be making Gentlemint better and better based on what the users of Gentlemint want the site to be.

RE: Anything else we should know about the site?

BM: Just that we are absolutely blown away by the interest in Gentlemint and the response we've gotten from it. When we built the site, it was just to make each other laugh, basically. We honestly really appreciate everyone that is interested in the site and will do our best to make sure we continue to build something that will be useful and fun for everyone out there.

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