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"Good Morning Denver" by Sheila Sund, used under CC BY

A Great! First Date: A More Natural Way to Meet People Online

AGreatFirstDate

If all the holiday parties – and the impending New Year’s Eve – are convincing you that the single life is so last year, you may be considering an online dating site to find your Mr. or Ms. Right.

But, what if online dating isn’t your bag? There’s still hope for the hopelessly romantics who want the convenience and breadth of an online dating site without the hang-ups of “traditional” sites.

That’s where Denver-based A Great! First Date comes in (note the emphasis on the “great”). I asked founder Rory O’Rourke to share her startup story with us.

Tech Cocktail:  Who does A Great! First Date target?

O’Rourke:  My startup targets anyone looking for a better way to connect with someone else.  Current online dating sites are awkward, unnatural and don’t give you much insight to how someone is in real life.  The target market is 26-40 year olds, familiar with Facebook, that lead passionate, active lives.

Tech Cocktail:  What inspired you to start a dating site?

O’Rourke:  The greatest inspiration behind my startup was probably my sister.  She is cute, active, but painfully shy.  She has been on many different online dating sites, and she hasn’t had much success because she doesn’t do a great job selling herself.  And I don’t think she should have to.  I think the quality of her life speaks volumes about why she deserves someone great, so I designed a site that would help people see how great she is!

Tech Cocktail:  Who is your greatest competitor, and how do you differentiate yourself?

O’Rourke:  I am competing with the big players in online dating, match.com, zoosk, eharmony, etc.  I have differentiated myself by re-imagining the fundamental part of a dating site– the profile.  Instead of answering generic, confusing, subjective questions and posting out-of-context pictures, I just ask my members to show what they do with their lives.  The rest follows from there - better conversations, better dates and ultimately better relationships.

Tech Cocktail:  What is the biggest advantage of starting up in Denver?

O’Rourke:  The biggest advantage is having such a vibrant startup community.  I’ve been able to present the idea multiple times and connect with great entrepreneurs.  Everyone is eager, understanding, and willing to help.

Tech Cocktail:  Describe a challenging moment or a crucial decision for your startup. How did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it?

O’Rourke:  At this point, I think the crucial decision was to actually start!  I’m still early in the process so I’ve got so much to learn.

A Great! First Date was a featured startup at our Tech Cocktail Denver Mixer & Startup Showcase.

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About the Author

Meg Rayford is a communications consultant based in Northern Virginia. She previously spent two years as the Director of Public Relations for a nonprofit startup, where she learned a lot about providing clean water for impoverished countries, even within the confines of a bootstrapped startup. She is the editor of Tech Cocktail, and she develops media strategies for companies in Washington, DC and Virginia. You can read her most recent work in the marketing chapter of the upcoming book, "Social Innovation and Impact in Nonprofit Leadership," which will be published in Spring 2014 by Springer Publishing. Follow her @megkrayford.

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