Rory O’ Rourke is set to make a splash in the competitive world of online dating with his new local site, www.agreatfirstdate.com. A beta version of the site was launched in May of this year and promises to be more Facebook than Match when it comes to pairing users with potential mates. O’Rourke is facing an uphill battle as previous local dating sites have discovered that unless there’s a pool of digital daters at the ready, the site quickly crashes and burns (after all, dating is a numbers game). The video chat-centered Vlirty, started by another local entrepreneur is all but non-existent in cyberspace now. Still, for those Denver daters looking for a new online outlet to pair them with suitors with like-minded interests, ideas and similar values, A Great! First Date may be in your future. Here’s an interview with the site founder and creator, 32-year-old O’Rourke.
1.) How did you feel about traditional dating sites? What was your core inspiration for founding A Great! First Date?
I feel they don’t tell a very good story about a person. I have a hard time describing myself, and I know that can make filling out a profile pretty intimidating. My core inspiration for A Great! First Date was to remove some of the intimidating aspects of traditional sites. Instead of talking about who you are, you just have to mention what you do in real life. That’s how people connect in the real world, and I think online dating can do a better job of reflecting that.
2.) Explain “pillars” on the site. How does someone using the site go about creating a profile?
Pillars are simply the important areas of interest you have. They are the things you do regularly, and what you’d like to connect with someone on. Examples include Travel, Health/Fitness, Eat/Drink, Charity/Volunteering and many others. When someone signs up, they are asked to select four pillars, and those pillars become a timeline that comprises their profile. Each pillar has activities specific to that pillar. For example, the Eat/Drink pillar has an activity called, “I went out!” A member can select that activity, describe where they went and even import photos directly from Facebook and Instagram. Then, if I want to contact that member, I can say something intelligent like, “Hey, I saw you went to Rootdown. I love that place! What did you order?” On other dating sites, my intro e-mail would probably have to be more vague, “You say you like to travel, ever been anywhere cool?” There is a big difference in those two exchanges.
3.) What do you think is the common mistake digital daters make?
Honestly, I don’t think digital daters make mistakes that are any different from regular daters. I think it’s the digital dating sites that make the mistakes! We are all people, and we are all looking to connect. Sure, sometimes that process doesn’t go smoothly, but if we have to play a game just to date differently online than we do in person, something is already wrong.
4.) Would it be fair to say you say your site is a hybrid of Facebook and Match? Why or why not?
Honestly, other than being an online dating site, A Great! First Date has very little in common with Match.com. Match.com is like going to the bar. You see lots people, but they are all done up, it’s dark and you might have your judgement a little impaired. It is much more like Facebook in that you get to tell a story about your life and then connect based on those things that interest you. My site is like meeting someone at the concert of your favorite band, instead of meeting someone at a bar.
5.) Where do you hope to take A Great! First Date in the future? Do you think cyber-dating will continue to be popular?
I hope to take the site nationwide next year. I’m adding a “date suggestions” feature that will allow you to plan great dates through the site based off of the interests you and a potential match share. I do think online dating will continue to be popular. We are all looking to connect with someone special, and there are only so many ways you can do it. At a certain age, the bars aren’t a great option and getting set up on blind dates isn’t, either. We do so much online, why couldn’t we find great dates there, too?
Amy Spagnola lives in Broomfield, Colorado and never gets tired of coconut frozen yogurt. She seeks style scores wherever she travels—including Iceland, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela. She holds a Master’s degree in journalism and loves playing Lois Lane when she’s not in yoga class or showing off her ping pong skills.Amy Spagnola lives in Broomfield, Colorado and never gets tired of coconut frozen yogurt. She seeks style scores wherever she travels—including Iceland, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela. She holds a Master’s degree in journalism and has released a book on cyber shopping; she loves playing Lois Lane when she’s not in yoga class or showing off her ping pong skills. See more of Amy’s writing at: www.amyspagnola.com