Sawyouatsinai.com Synergizes Matchmaking and Online Dating


Michele Herenstein  |  Jan 2 2004


If you thought JDate revolutionized the Jewish dating scene, you're going to love this.

Combining the advantages of Internet dating with the old-fashioned know-how of professional matchmakers, a new online dating site is hoping to provide a service unlike the countless number of online dating sites already in existence. Sawyouatsinai.com promises to be the interactive medium that puts control back in the hands of individuals, while still allowing them to benefit from the expertise and facilitation of matchmakers.

"The Internet is an amazing medium for meeting people outside of your core group of friends," according to Marc Goldmann, co-founder of sawyouatsinai.com, but its inability to assure confidentiality and information verification left him unsettled. He had a better idea.

"Many people today use a real estate agent to help them find a house, a head hunter to help them find a job, why not a matchmaker to help them find a husband?" said Goldmann, who started the site with founding partner Azi Cutter and matchmaker manager Orlee Guttman.

Goldmann researched common ways that people meet—at community or charity events, at Shabbat meals, after synagogue, or by being set up through friends. Each of these methods, he felt, had their downsides. He realized the difficulty of following up with people after a chance meeting on Shabbat, the agonizing awkwardness of introductions between strangers at parties, and the letdown of blind dates, only to discover you've been misled by false personal information. Goldmann thought that by combining the Internet with matchmakers, many of these issues could be resolved.

The major advantage of Internet dating is the absence of geographical boundaries. The Internet lets a person meet others in different cities and social circles. Another plus to online dating is the ability to preview pictures before accepting a date.

Matchmakers, long a staple in the Jewish tradition of dating and marriage, develop efficient ways of organizing their information and facilitating appropriate dates. By using personal information updated by individuals on the Internet, the matchmaker can match-make even more proficiently. The added advantage of an online matchmaker is her ability to validate another's profile and to assist in the "follow up" process.

To begin meeting on sawyouatsinai.com, individuals go online and fill out a profile. The site allows members to change their status on the web site if they become involved with a number of dates, or one special person. Members will also be given a sawyouatsinai email address, so when a matchmaker has someone for the member to meet, an email will be sent telling members to log onto the site and access the information. The matchmakers vow to abide by a code of conduct, so that they won't abuse their privileges. Much of the information will only be seen by the matchmaker, allowing for maximum privacy. Members also have the option of choosing matchmakers according to individual needs. He or she can choose up to five matchmakers, who each list their areas of specialty (i.e.: age ranges and religious denominations) on the web site. Dr. Tova Weinberg left full-time dentistry to go into full-time matchmaking. Goldmann brought her on board because of the glowing recommendations he received about her from many couples. Weinberg has been setting up couples for 26 years and has almost 100 marriages to her name.

 

"Sawyouatsinai is so interactive. It's just going to put meeting people through a matchmaker on a different level. It's fabulous," said Weinberg.

Debby Levitt, has been involved in matchmaking for five years. She works with the West Orange Shidduch Club, a group consisting of matchmakers in New Jersey who meet to set up couples. Now that Levitt is part of sawyouatsinai, her her pool of available individuals will expand dramatically.

"What's great about the site for us as matchmakers, is that we don't have to update the single's information, the single does that himself," said Levitt. "So the singles are part of the process and they're becoming heavily involved in finding their own match." Levitt also praised the absolute confidentiality of the site.

With the direct involvement of matchmakers, sawyouatsinai claims to have an advantage over other online dating sites in the area of verifying member information. Since a matchmaker will be checking profiles and references, people may be less likely to provide false information. If someone is caught lying, he or she is thrown off the site.

Goldmann, an entrepreneur, has been involved in consulting for the past ten years. Sawyouatsinai is his fourth start up company. He plans on officially launching the site in January, although sawyouatsinai is already online and accepting information.

"At the end of the day, I want people to get married. If someone gets married because of their involvement on the site, I'll be ecstatic," he said. "If I can get people married quicker, that means we're being successful."