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How one site safeguards the dating process

February 13, 2013|By Matt Lindner @mattlindner | For RedEye

The founders of a Chicago-based online matchmaking service say the art of courtship has evolved as technology has become more pervasive in our lives--and that's not necessarily a good thing.

"We think things have went a little bit too far with Facebook, with online dating where you're just interacting with your computer," said Sarah Press, CEO and co-founder of Project Fixup. "We wanted to create a fun way to bring single people together to meet in person at a fun bar and have a conversation and see if they hit it off."

Project Fixup aims to bring together compatible singles that share similar interests at venues throughout the city that will be conducive to conversation all while protecting their privacy in the process.

"You're able to communicate with your date anonymously through one of our phone numbers," said Alan Illing, the company's chief technology officer and a 28-year-old Lakeview resident. "We don't transmit your last name, we don't transmit your address, your phone number. Women in particular love the safety protections that we offer."

Meghan Stegemann, a 29-year-old Lincoln Square resident who has been on a couple of dates through the site, which charges users $15 for every date they go on, said that aspect of the site forces daters to get to the point when it comes to deciding whether there will be a second date.

"If you didn't want to see someone again, it's that night or nothing," she said. "You have to be a bit ballsy and tell people what you want."

Both Illing and Press are well aware that sometimes, people can be a more idealized version of themselves online. That's why after each date, they give daters a survey to see how everything went.

"If the person was different from how they described, they didn't look like their picture or they for whatever reason were different than they expected, we find out about that in the post-date survey and take that into consideration when we do future fixups," Press said. "It's not a perfect process but at least we have a little bit more of a feedback loop than some of those other sources."

Matt Linder is a RedEye special contributor.

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