Online sessions can start with simple text chats and escalate to audio and then webcam video.
The to and fro can extend to mutually looking over web pages or doing things such as collaborating on crossword puzzles.
Already a veteran of telephone and online dating services, Rogers came up with the notion of using the capabilities of Microsoft's wildly popular MSN Messenger chat service to run a different spin on Internet matchmaking.
Subscribers log in, browse the pictures and profiles of who's online at any given time and selectively mix and mingle - sort of like wading into the crowd at a nice club, without the ear-bleeding music and overpriced drinks.
In stage two, the site will introduce customized instant messaging capabilities giving users the ability to connect through streaming text, audio and video.
In stage three, Lemontonic will begin charging for the service.
Lemontonic's latest financial statement showed a loss of almost .7 million for the first nine months of 2004, with revenues of less than ,500.
With free users being converted to paid accounts at rates higher than expected and product revisions ready to go, current forecasts anticipate a cash-flow positive position before the end of 2005.The size of the industry certainly seems to confirm that widespread human need, with more than 800 dating sites in the United States alone and Jupiter Research estimating overall 2004 revenues at 3 million US, just in that country.David Evans, editor of a business intelligence weblog and news digest on the online dating industry, says he has a list of more than 1,500 dating sites, "but only the top 25 matter."Newspaper classifieds largely owned the personals business until the early 1990s, when interactive voice-response systems started drawing users to 1-900 telephone services.A year later, there are 13 employees and the ramp-up plan gets them to just shy of 20 by yearend.Having originally come out of the packaged goods business, Rogers was particularly drawn to marketing something that is what he calls a "primary need" - the quest for affection and companionship."It's just about as important to people as food and water," says Rogers, now Lemontonic's VP of marketing.While Yahoo and AOL have dating and messenger services, and countless online dating services promote the ability to chat and send messages, Rogers says Lemontonic is the only firm so far that uses messenger technology as the focal point, and the only one with a stand-alone, downloadable application that runs free of any web browser.