New Yorkers Amber Soletti and Carmine Di Re were both single in 2008 when they started going to speed dating events around town.They hoped to meet someone attractive and available but found themselves continually disappointed by the random caliber of attendees sitting across from them.
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Because the speed dating events were open to anyone within a certain age range, Amber ended up talking to many men who were not her type.
The 5’10” single wanted a boyfriend who was taller than her and shared her political views, and yet she was forced to agonize the minutes away in awkward conversation with vertically-challenged Republicans.
“What differentiates us as a speed dating service is how engaged and passionate our hosts are,” Amber said.
“They really get involved and understand the importance of these events.” The large events, for anywhere between 200 to 1,000 singles, encourage people to interact with one another with fun icebreaker games like asking trivia questions or delivering cheesy pickup lines.
Some themed events also provided in-depth date feedback to attendees.
At “Tough Love” events, two dating coaches (one man, one woman) go undercover to observe participants and provide notes on each person’s dating style.
Carmine liked teachers so we did ‘Hot for Teacher.’ And it just spread like wildfire.” Soon On Speed Dating had established a reputation for hosting themed speed dating events to address common deal-breakers, including height requirements, wanting kids, political views, body types, professions, and hobbies.
On Speed Dating events let daters be honest about what they’re looking for, and NYC singles flocked to these imaginative and fun-filled gatherings.
She thought a more selective and interest-specific event would be effective at matching singles up, so she and Carmine decided to plan one.
That was the inspiration for “Size Matters,” a speed dating event for guys over 5’11”.
Growing by word of mouth, On Speed Dating raised eyebrows for focusing on specific interests, backgrounds, and fetishes. No other New York dating service was doing themed speed dating events at the time, and the idea of a roomful of date prospects tailored to certain interests was appealing to a lot single men and women.