Rory O'Rourke thinks traditional dating sites are too static.
"You talk about yourself or fill out a bunch of survey questions, and throughout your experience online, you don't change that," says O'Rourke, who works in software. "Everybody says they like to travel but nobody updates their page with what trips they've been on. You don't get a feel for what people are like in their real life."
So the 32-year-old decided to create a site that would remedy that.
His site, A Great! First Date, is more like Facebook than Match.com. Users upload a profile picture and write two short blurbs: one about themselves and one about who they're looking for. Then they pick four categories -- O'Rourke calls them "pillars" -- from a possible twelve choices. O'Rourke's are Health/Fitness, Eat/Drink, Reading/Writing/Art and Movies/TV. Every time a user does something that fits into one of their pillars, such as go to a yoga class or have a drink at one of Denver's hipster bars, they can add it to their profile, much like Facebook. Users can also write a comment or upload a photo.
O'Rourke's last event was watching the season finale of Mad Men. His comment? "Seriously good television." ("I can't wait for next season," he says, in real life.)
"You get a window into what someone does," he says -- instead of plain facts, such as their height, body type and whether they earn more than $50,000. "None of that stuff, in the real world, makes that much of a difference. When you meet somebody and you have chemistry, that's what matters. The idea is to get you out in that scenario."
A beta version of A Great! First Date launched six weeks ago in Denver. It's currently free to join, and O'Rourke estimates it has about 55 users. One of the biggest challenges of starting a dating site is getting a critical mass of users. If not enough people sign up, the dating pool is too shallow. Other sites started by local entrepreneurs, such as the video chat-centered Vlirty, seem to have disappeared from the Internet altogether.
But O'Rourke, who's living in a friend's warehouse and working a day job to save money as he launches the site, thinks he's come up with a different way to online-date. He uses an analogy to explain: "Match.com is like going out to a bar; you don't have any context around somebody. My site is like meeting someone at the concert of your favorite band."
Plus, if you do it right, A Great! First Date makes it harder to fib about how often you really work out or whether you actually saw the last episode of Mad Men. "Like anything on the Internet, if you work just a little bit, you can lie about it," O'Rourke says. "But this one should make it a little more obvious.... You'd have to consciously make stuff up."
And Don Draper is way too serious to lie about.
Watch a video about A Great! First Date below.
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