September 23, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 14  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Where are all the sexy singles? Online!

By Brian Wong
Gazette Staff

If you’re one of Western’s frosh who can’t get into the bars or clubs to meet other singles, you can thank Ivey students Ash Singh, Parag Shah and Dan Fanaberia for making hooking up with new people a bit easier. The team are creators of the new Web site University Singles (www.universitysingles.ca).

“We saw that there was a market need for this,” Shah explains. “University students wanted to meet each other and we knew that the Internet was growing, so we took those two things, put them together and made a Web site.”

It was also the right time to do it. With the growing market for online singles networks and the expiration of the Universitysingles.ca domain name the trio grabbed the site and enlisted the help of programmers around the world to build it.

Since going live, 3,000 members have registered - about a third of them Western students - and the numbers are growing, as 50 to 100 new users are being added each day. The creators have also taken on the responsibility of screening each new registrant’s profile and blocking any objectionable language. “We wanted to keep it clean because we have kids logging on that are 16, 17,” Singh says.

The many services Universitysingles.ca offers include a message board, chat rooms - with many Western rooms grouped by residences and faculty - an instant messenger and a hot-or-not feature similar to Facethejury.com in which users can submit pictures of themselves to be rated by others (according to hotness of course).

But the main part of the site is the personals in which users post their own profiles and if they wish, pictures of themselves. Shah stresses this feature isn’t simply for people looking for love: “The service is called ‘Friend Finder’ because some people just go on the net to genuinely meet friends.” The aim to create a friendly university community is reflected in the bubbly cartoonish design of the site and places an emphasis more on networking than just pure dating.

So far, the response to the site has been gratifying. “We get e-mails saying things like, ‘Thanks guys, I met someone [on the site] and we went out and had a really good time,’” Singh says. “That positive feedback gives us motivation because we’re not making any money - this is just an initiative that we took.”

Fanaberia, who oversees most of the marketing of the site, believes the Universitysingles.ca project is much-needed. “The problem of meeting somebody online is that, how do you know that’s their picture and how do you [know] that’s their age, etc. But because [our site] is a university community and we’re also hosting events and parties, it becomes a perfect venue to go somewhere comfortable and safe to meet somebody.”

 

 

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