My lovely wife Jenny and I have been working on Packershack (mostly over nights and weekends) for the past year now. We "launched" it in the middle of April this year, only to find that our realtime scraper (riding on top of PhantomJs) is eating up all of our paltry 512 MB memory. Our duct tape solution was to restart all the processes every hour or so. Obviously, this was not the ideal solution, as our user experience was negatively affected. After a couple weekends of battling and even hacking PhantomJs's source code, we feel we've found an acceptable solution. Packershack has now stabilized, and I've finally lost the impulse to log onto our server every morning to check if everything is running smoothly.
Getting Packershack out the door has been a humbling experience. At first, we subscribed to the naive notion of "build it and they will come." Quickly, we realized that could not be further from the truth. I'm not saying that software development is easy; however, in terms of marketing, we don't have the faintest idea where to start. We've been reading a lot about SEO and SEM, and we'll keep you guys (anyone reading this?) updated about our progress on all fronts.
OK, now. So, why Packershack? What does it do? Packershack aggregates hostels from various online hostel booking engines and displays them all in one place. The map is the major focus of the site. We discovered that when backpacking abroad, we wanted to find a hostel/hotel with the perfect balance between location and price. We didn't want to book a place that was super cheap but required a 30 minute bus ride to the city center. While the existing hostel booking engines have great inventory, we still found ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time in front of a computer trying to find that perfect hostel. Packershack was born out of frustration from our personal backpacking experience.
We'll continue working to improve our service. If you haven't already, please check it out. Let us know what works well and what annoys you. Either way, we'd love to hear from you.