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Not-So-Slim Pickings

Not-So-Slim PickingsWith their innovative dating services, Tufts graduates make lonely nights a thing of the past. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.08.04] Today, more than 80 million Americans are single or divorced. The recent explosion of online dating services has helped many of these people find love- but a significant group may have felt excluded. Now, Tufts graduate Ian Klein has discovered an untapped niche with his new matchmaking service, Overweightdate.com- giving larger lovers a new way to get struck by cupid's arrow.

"The government says that 64 percent of all Americans are overweight," Klein - who is 25 and based in Boston - told the Boston Herald. "I feel like I'm serving the majority of Americans."

Sure enough, thousands of overweight singles have logged onto Klein's service -- where members can create a profile and privately e-mail other members. Not all members are overweight: the site's motto is "For large lovers and the men and women who admire them".

Klein - who is neither chubby nor single - says he has personal ties to the venture. His older sister is heavy and helped shaped the approach he took in creating the dating service.

"I need her help to know what it feels like to be heavy," Klein told the Herald of his sister, who is currently dating a man she met on the site.

While the Tufts graduate has faced some sneers from the media - primarily from radio shock jocks who poke fun at the site's members - Klein brushes off the jeers and stands by his idea.

"Different men have different tastes," he told the Herald, noting that he has dated "very different women of all shapes and sizes."

The idea for Overweightdate.com hit Klein after a string of unsuccessful online business enterprises. He realized that standard dating services like Match.com were becoming popular, and wanted to address a unique area of the rapidly growing industry.

"I was thinking first and foremost of business," Klein told the Herald. "I had to differentiate myself."

Klein is not the only Tufts graduate to help the dating world. Tom Jaffee is the founder of 8minutedating.com, a speed-dating service that holds events in 55 cities across the United States and Canada.

Jaffee's site, founded in January 2001, has more than 60,000 members and a staggering success rate - 90 percent of participants meet someone they'd like to see again.

The service operates by holding gatherings in which participants give only their first name, and attend eight mini-dates. Attendees then fill out a card stating who they would like to meet with again - and computerized matching programs do the rest.

"I was looking for a new challenge and wanted something to wrap my brain around," Jaffee told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. "I knew it was a great idea, something whose time had come."

 

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