Dating site launches for Ariz. students

STUDENT DATING: Two ASU computer information systems seniors developed an online dating site for Arizona students. Date U, which currently offers free membership, launched last month. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Arizona college students don’t need to rely on a chance meeting to find their significant other anymore.

Computer information systems seniors Brent Blaylock and Jeff Webb have turned a class project into an online dating site exclusively for college students.

Date U launched last month with the goal of giving college students a way to meet each other.

“You constantly hear about online dating sites becoming more popular,” Webb said. “We feel the college market hasn’t been tapped yet.”

Blaylock and Webb began the project last semester as an assignment for a computer information systems class. The project was to create a website using cloud computing, meaning all applications and processing were carried out through resources on the Web.

Blaylock said this makes running a website much easier because users don’t have to do any of the “technical stuff.” He also said cloud computing can be as robust as the user needs it to be, so Date U can hold millions of members if needed.

The website received an honorable mention distinction in the class competition, and Webb and Blaylock decided to continue this website for their honors thesis project.

Webb said they hope to make this venture profitable in the future.

“It is very rare when a group of students make a product and try to take it to the market,” said Asim Roy, a professor in at the W. P. Carey School of Business. Roy was Webb and Blaylock’s professor when they started the project, and he is now their honors thesis director.

The website launched Aug. 19. As of Sunday, 77 people had registered for the site, most of them from ASU. Blaylock said their membership doubled over the weekend, and their goal is to have 1,000 members by semester’s end.

Webb and Blaylock have promoted the site by posting fliers around campus, visiting freshman classes and through Facebook. Most of their members have come through Facebook.

“We thought it was an application that a lot of people would like … there’s nothing really like it on the Internet,” Blaylock said.

Currently, the site is only open to Arizona students in colleges and universities, and 95 percent of its members are from ASU, Blaylock said.

Eventually they hope to expand it to universities in other states, but Webb said that likely wouldn’t happen until next year. They also hope to spread internationally at some point.

“By the time it grows here, they should know what works and what doesn’t, and they can take it to a larger market,” Roy said.

The main purpose of the site is to allow people to meet other people, Webb said. There are several ways to do this. The first way is to “wink” at someone. This option, similar to a Facebook “poke,” lets a person know someone is interested in them.

The next way is to message them. This is similar to an e-mail, and Blaylock said a considerable number of messages have been sent between people.

The final way is to suggest a date. There is a small database on the website with a list of events and places to go to in the Tempe area. This is a fairly new feature, and Blaylock said it has only been used a couple times so far.

Currently, it is free to become a member, although they might start charging a small fee to use the site’s services in a few months, as membership increases.

However, it would likely be only $5 to $10 a month, Webb said. This is much less than eHarmony, which costs $60 for a one-month subscription.

“Online dating isn’t just for people who are desperate … it really is just another way to meet someone new,” Blaylock said.

Reach the reporter at connor.radnovich@asu.edu