Hot Stuff

Hot Business: Matchmaking

No, we're not talking about video-based matchmaking here. The experts agree that Y2K twentysomethings wouldn't think of fast-forwarding through hundreds of awkward personality pitches.

Where it's at is online. What started with chat-room flirting has turned into actual entrepreneurial endeavors allowing friends and strangers to "meet" via anonymous e-mail indications of their crushes. Non-traditional, yes-but a match remains the goal. Take Clark Benson and Karen DeMars' eCrush service (http://www.ecrush.com), with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco. DeMars, 29, sees it as an "electronic note passer," which, utilizing a proprietary database process, searches for two people who have proclaimed crushes on each other, and e-mails both users simultaneously.

It took about $100,000 of 31-year-old Benson's seed capital to start, but with increased ad sales, sponsorships and affiliate programs, eCrush is starting to see revenues.

"It's a safer way to meet people, and it's easy," says DeMars. "You could be sitting in your pajamas having a beer in front of your computer." And when you consider the emerging market-teens who've grown up doing everything online-the service seems not only more necessary, but also more lucrative.

Irma Zandl, founder and president of The Zandl Group, agrees. "People are outsourcing everything," she says, "including the dating game." But if you're attempting a more traditional matchmaking service online, Zandl says thorough evaluations of prospects will only strengthen business in these questionable times.

Don't forget real-world matchmaking ventures, however. Thirty-two-year-old Nancy Slotnick, owner of Drip, a New York City coffee, liquor and dessert bar of love connections, had so many request her house special-date arrangements-that she decided to franchise the concept.

It all makes sense, really. If twentysomethings are waiting longer to walk down the aisle or disregarding it completely, they've obviously embraced "All You Need Is Love."

Next: Gen X »

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hot Stuff.

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