Co-founder and CEO at Known (part of the third class at Matter Ventures). Previously co-founded Elgg, used by the World Bank, Oxfam and three federal governments. Open source engineering background, loves startups and product management.
I've spent my career building these platforms. It sounds like you might be better off building your site on top of an existing framework that supports membership: that way you can continue to focus on your startup's differentiating value, rather than rebuilding the wheel with a membership system.
Several are available. Elgg (I was a cofounder) is now a programming framework designed to make it easy to build social sites. There are other good choices - it depends on the features you need on top of the membership functionality.
Let me know if I can help.
You need to be able to get feedback on your product as quickly as possible, so my advice is to choose the technology stack that will allow you to build a prototype efficiently. There's no right answer here: for some people it's LAMP, for others it's node, for others it's a Windows stack.
Worrying about the technology at the stage you're at is a red herring: worry about the product, the problem it solves and the user experience of your solution, and get feedback you can iterate on as quickly as possible.
I'm a serial startup CTO who's now a startup founder and CEO. Let me know if I can help.
Simply put, Ben is one of the best people that I have worked with. Extremely intelligent and insightful, his ability to convert enthusiasm into a vision, and then follow up with consistently superb deliverables and results, is a unique talent. It is a genuine pleasure to know and to work with Ben, and I am delighted to be able to recommend him and his work to anyone.
My first contact with Ben was as one of the visionaries behind Open Source Elgg. He is creative, full of ideas about the application of the social web for good, but he is also a skilled practitioner, able to realise that vision by applying his software design and architecture skills. He is generous with his time, knowledge and expertise, and I certainly hope our paths continue to cross and we have a chance to work with him again.
Ben was one of the creators of Elgg, which was the first truly social blogging community that I encountered. I kept a blog there and interacted with other academics who were also interested in using the web and in studying its impact on teaching. I also used Elgg as Learning Management System for some of the classes I taught. I admire his knowledge, skills, creativity, and foresight, and I am grateful to him for creating Elgg and thus allowing me to experience the social aspects of the web as used for teaching and learning.
My dealings with Ben to date have been short but sweet and I'm sure our professional paths will cross again in the future. As well as being a really nice guy, he's got a deep understanding of social media through years of "living it". Combine this domain expert knowledge with his software engineering prowess, demonstrated most visibly through his technical leadership on Elgg, and the result is a software professional who is probably in great demand. Ben is certainly someone I'd like to work with again!
Ben worked with us closely during the planning, implementation and support of Community@Brighton (the first full University social network using Elgg). Ben was extremely responsive to our needs, working with us to provide exactly the solution we wanted. Great fun to work with and hugely expert in his fields.
Ben is a talented and creative software developer. Elgg was a unique and inspired piece of work. As well as his technical skills, Ben has the quality of being able to listen to and understand user requirements. A pleasure to work with. Happy to recommend him.
Ben is an inspiring, energetic and creative developer who not only keeps on top of the latest technologies but even more importantly has a clear vision of how they can be used to bring people together.
Ben Werdmuller was one of the principle architects and designers of Elgg, which was the first (and pretty much the only) social networking service designed specifically for education. The product was open source, and therefore it is incorrect to say I 'hired' Ben for this work (LinkedIn admits no other possibility, though) but I have used it and also studied its code. It was first-class world, widely used and appreciated in the community, and redefined what an online application could look like.
I met Ben in 2004 at Oxford when we shared some thoughts about technology and the future of Elgg at that time.
I follow their work and I can say it is very passionate and ever try to see what it is the important relationship between people and technology. How it says 'Internet is for people'.
Very happy to write a recommendation for Ben. I worked fairly closely with Ben in the early days of ELGG. Ben is a great software developer - but more than that is full of ideas, and always willing to share them. Ben listens. He is also an excellent presenter, writer and blogger.
Above all Ben is fun to work with - hope we have the chance to work together again in the future.
As well as being a highly skilled and creative software engineer, Ben Werdmuller has a keen insight into the social and business implications of new technologies.
I found Ben to be a delightful client to work with. Highly recommended.