The Startups Taking Online Dating To The Next Level

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Disrupt is an annual technology conference held by TechCrunch to give the spotlight to influential speakers and promising new startups. This year the event was held in San Francisco, beginning with the Hackathon and then continuing to the Startup Battlefield and Startup Alley.

Klint Finley, a writer for TechCrunch.com, shared his picks in September for the best new businesses that promise to bring online dating out of the 90s and into the modern world. The key to making the leap, he says, is integrating three things:

  1. New developments in video
  2. Social networking capabilities
  3. Mobile functionality

The first new site he profiles is VideoDate. VideoDate was started by Michael Cafferata, a firefighter who followed his passion for improving the online dating experience in his free time. His take on online dating is an entirely mobile video chat app. Instead of static profiles, VideoDate encourages real interaction with face-to-face video chats and instant messaging. It's all done from your phone, so you can date anytime, anywhere.

For Facebook fans, there's now Frimper. Like traditional dating sites Frimper has a matching algorithm element, but it also includes an online speed-dating component. Frimper's matching strategy goes beyond what you say about yourself to include the impressions from other Frimper users who interact with you. You may not think of yourself as outgoing, for example, but if other users tag you as outgoing after chatting with you, that important piece of info will be added to Frimper's matching system.

Dateini was designed to solve a very different problem: What do you do once you've already got a date? Dateini's "virtual concierge service" choses a date itinerary for you based on the info you give it about location, your budget, the desired theme, etc. The theme categories currently available are Romantic, Music, and Entertainment. 10 major U.S. cities have Dateini so far, and hopefully it will be expanding soon.

The last new biz covered by Finley is emotion.me, the final stop in your online dating life. Emotion.me is a wedding planning app that consolidates everything wedding into one place. Create your own wedding website in 5 minutes, then use it to plan, organize, and budget your special day. You can also use it to register for gifts, connect with your guests, and keep track of your calendar.

New developments in video? Check. Social networking capabilities? Check. Mobile functionality? Check. Online dating is getting more interesting by the minute.

Report: 1 in 10 Online Dating Profiles Are Scams

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Those who are down on online dating are quick to cite fake profiles, scam artists, and confidence schemes as the number one reason they would never consider joining a dating site.

A special report in the October issue of Glamour delves into the issue, warning of a fraud epidemic sweeping online dating sites. Mark Brooks, editor of Online Personals Watch, even warns that, on some dating sites, as many as one in ten profiles is a scammer.

A typical online dating scam works like this:

  • A con artist - often located in an Internet café overseas - will take a photo from Facebook or another social networking site.
  • Using the photo, they will create a fake profile and start targeting love-seeking victims.
  • After initiating contact with a target, they move the conversation to a private instant messaging service.
  • As the courtship continues, the scammer will deepen the "connection" by sending letters and love poems.
  • Arrangements to meet are eventually made but, within hours of the planned arrival time, disaster will strike in the form of an expired visa, a sick relative, or another emergency.
  • The scammer will explain that, in light of the emergency, they need a few thousand dollars wired over so that they can finally meet their sweetheart.

Many scammers use photos of military personnel in order to boost their credibility. Recently, after discovering that his picture was used in multiple fake dating profiles, Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham created a blog for soldiers to report the fraudulent use of their photos. Major sites like Match and OkCupid have some security measures in place, but smaller sites lack a security system, leaving individuals to defend themselves.

Defend yourself against online dating scams - don't wait for your dating site to do it for you. How's here:

  1. Watch out for military photos. Of course some will be real, but proceed with caution since they are so commonly used by scammers.
  2. Keep the conversation on the site. It's safer than chatting on Skype or an external instant messaging system until you feel completely comfortable with the person.
  3. Use conversational tests. If the person is a local, engage them in a local-knowledge conversation to be sure they're actually who they say they are. If they're not local, ask why they're interested in a long-distance relationship. Make sure they have a reasonable answer.
  4. Beware of poor grammar and spelling, badly written sentences, and old-fashioned romantic language.
  5. Steer clear of get-rich-quick schemes - anything that sounds too good to be true probably is.

And never, ever send money to anyone on a dating site.

An eHarmony Breakup

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eHarmony is going through a breakup.

No, it's not the kind of breakup that happens after you had one too many cocktails, saw your honey chatting up someone else, and ended up in a messy public argument. This is a breakup of the business variety.

Neil Clark Warren, the 78-year-old man who founded eHarmony 12 years ago (yep, the guy from the commercials), is taking back control of the company after becoming CEO in July. Here's a peek at what's on the menu:

  • Firing 100 employees
  • Cutting the board back from 9 members to 2
  • Bringing back stock from Sequoia Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures, which invested $110 million in 2004
  • Eliminating the initial public offering which had originally been expected in 2010

Instead, Warren plans to spend the next year expanding eHarmony's portfolio to include services to help people find work, understand themselves, and build relationships to reduce loneliness. eHarmony's future is all about psychology and social science.

Warren's multi-faceted plan for the site begins with re-establishing stability. eHarmony has had a constant stream of CEOs following the resignation of Greg Waldorf, one of the company's founding investors, in January 2011 after 5 years in the role. He was replaced by Greg Steiner, chief operating officer at the time, then Jeremy Verba, who formerly worked with Zynga Inc.

Now that Warren is in the top spot, and he's wasted no time revamping the company. "Building a relationship business is so different from trying to build something with machines or widgets," he said. "To put it in the hands of people that only want to look at it as a source of business success, revenue success doesn't make sense anymore."

He now has seven full-time psychologists on staff and has replaced many of the more business-focused executives with social scientists. eHarmony has also bought back the 30% of the company that was sold to Sequoia and TCV. As he has no plans to sell the company or make it public, Warren says repurchasing the shares was the best way for investors to make money.

Up next, Warren plans to expand the site's reach by targeting more than love-seeking singles. He hopes to draw in new users who are just looking to find friends and intends to launch a job searching site in the first half of 2013. His goal for the new site is to help people understand their strengths, passions, and ideal work environment early on so that they can enjoy a fulfilling profession as soon as possible.

It's early days yet, but Warren is confident he'll succeed. "I think I am more productive and wiser today than I've ever been," he says.

To figure out if this dating site is the right service for you, please read our review of eHarmony.

Plenty of Fish Removes Last Online for Free Users

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It was just in March when we found out that POF removed who has viewed your profile for free members. Well I found out they have done it again and removed another feature from free members. I received an email about the reasons to upgrade my account and it listed features and abilities you can unlock. Members who have paid for the upgrade are the only ones who now can see when someone was last online. This is an important attribute that members use when deciding to contact someone. Who would contact a person who hasn't been on Plenty of Fish in the last 6 months? I know I wouldn’t since most likely the person will not respond back since they have either found someone or has moved on to another dating site.

While I don’t think Plenty of Fish will ever remove sending messages for free on their dating site, I am finding it much harder to call this dating site a free service. The features they have removed lately are really important cues online daters use to figure out if it is worth sending that message or not. It is almost a requirement now to pay for POF to make it useful. I don't begrudge Plenty of Fish for wanting to make a buck since dating sites are a business and businesses need to make money. I think the reason we are slowly seeing POF moving to a paid upgrade business model has to do with Apps. With the rise of smartphones it is harder for online services to make money by displaying ads (there is no room on the screen). Now when you combine this with the increase usage of users using dating apps over the last year to access their favorite dating site, profits for free dating sites are falling. Maybe this is just a sign of the times for all free online services and not just dating.

To find out more about this popular dating site you can read our POF.com review.

Double Your Dating

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The review for David DeAngelo ebook called "Double Your Dating" can now be found in our Dating Books category. This ebook was so popular that the author updated his source material and released a second edition. Double Your Dating is not designed as a quick fix for someone’s dating problems. David DeAngelo approaches are designed for single men who is interested in self-improvement and are looking to empower not just their dating lives but other areas of their life. This ebook is ideal for beginners.

To find out more about this popular dating book for men you can read our new Double Your Dating review now.

Déjàmor Keeps The Spark Alive

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Keeping things fresh after years together is a challenge for any couple. How do you keep the spark alive when you're more interested in catching some extra shuteye than spending quality time with your partner?

The answer may be Déjàmor, a new website designed to help couples reconnect through romantic and intimate experiences. The founders of Déjàmor researched books, conducted focus groups, and consulted with therapists, coaches, and sexologists to develop a comprehensive strategy to bring couples closer together.

Each month, Déjàmor delivers a package to subscribers with two boxes inside: one for "his eyes only" and one for "her eyes only." The boxes contain a sensual adventure guide and goodies to enhance the experience that Déjàmor promises are "always sexy and never sleazy."

What exactly is inside the mystery boxes? "Recipes for a happy, fulfilled, and sensual life," says Déjàmor, "complete with ingredients [that] are meant to surprise and delight you and your partner." The exact contents are meant to be a surprise, but the site's testimonials hint at what might be in store for you.

One customer received a package containing rose petals, "arousing" bubble bath, a vial with a blank note, and an illustrated booklet. The booklet laid out a plan for an at-home sensual spa retreat to spoil his wife. Another customer received a sash of lace, blank cards, and list of suggested notes to leave for her lucky husband.

Once they have the ingredients for a special night, it's up to the couples to make it happen. "We thought instead of telling people what to do, it would be delivering a recipe of what to do, plus the ingredients for that recipe," CEO Rodrigo Fuentes told Mashable. "The box arrives every month. Each partner in the relationship knows they are going to receive some fun surprise from their lover."

Déjàmor's monthly packages are completely customizable. New subscribers are asked a series of questions, including their sex, their partner's sex, how long they've been together. All answers are kept confidential and are used to create a personalized Déjàmor experience.

"We are all about rebuilding the bridges of communication, intimacy and romance," Fuentes says. "Once our advisors approve of experiences we go into sources and illustrations to get the experience ready. We ensure our experiences will hit home with people."

With so many people now turning to online dating services to find love, it seems only natural that couples will now use the Internet to keep that love alive.