| Alumni Profile • Patty Tawadros '95
Bringing integrity to the online dating game
Late in 2005 Patty Tawadros '95 thought she had met Mr. Right. A busy, urban professional (she owns Xercel, a Philadelphia-based Web development firm with a satellite office in Russia), Tawadros first learned of the man through an online dating service.
She remembers thinking, "Wow, this guy's everything I want. He's a Christian, smart, successful, fairly nice looking, local ."
They exchanged e-mails, talked on the phone, and then, after a couple of weeks, met in person. Within the month Tawadros had begun to think there was something wrong about Mr. Right. Her suspicion peaked when the man invited her to his family's vacation home in Mexico. All she had to do was to fill in a "security form" with her passport information.
With some investigative help from friends, Tawadros discovered Mr. Right was in the business of stealing identities. Immediately she contacted the dating service to report the man's fraudulent activity-and was flatly ignored. The service still posts his profile, inviting other women to respond.
The experience confirmed what a growing number of studies report: that many online daters are dishonest about everything from their weight to their marital status and intentions.
Tawadros didn't stop with being mad about the dating service's refusal to expose the con man. She had the skills and the chutzpah to do something about it. In January 2007 Tawadros launched IntegriDate, a Web site she describes as "the Consumer Reports of online dating profiles with an eBay model of feedback."
Members of any online dating service-like eHarmony or Match.com-can go to the IntegriDate Web site and search for the user name of someone whose profile they've seen. The search will return what other online daters who have met that profilee have to say about him or her, specifically whether he/she is being honest about appearance, marital status, occupation and intentions. Friends of the profilee-who may or may not be online daters themselves-can also log onto the site and leave credibility-bolstering feedback about him or her.
It works in the same way eBay seller feedback works, Tawadros said. "People want to generate good feedback about themselves, so they're honest and responsible about who they are and what they want."
Unlike eBay merchandise, though, IntegriDate deals in emotions, where feedback is apt to be far less objective. As a check on the rantings of a spurned love, IntegriDate notifies online daters when someone else has left feedback about them. They, in turn, have the chance to respond.
"We hope to create an online community centered around integrity," Tawadros said. "We want people who are looking for a meaningful relationship to find in us a safe haven where they can get honest information about the people they'd like to meet."
Besides feedback on dater profiles, IntegriDate offers dating advice and hosts a blogging community, all free. Tawadros plans more services for IntegriDate's future, if she can interest investors and raise money to promote the site in an industry that's very expensive-and growing. Some 40 to 50 million people date online, generating $500 million in business. Growing with the use and profitability of these services are the opportunities for abuse and the need for IntegriDate's services, Tawadros said.
Though on a mission to protect others, she's not sure she has much energy for online dating herself anymore. "I'd like to meet somebody the old-fashioned way," she said, "like in church."
Tawadros' Web site is www.IntegriDate.com.
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