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Startups see dollar signs in sex

Eric Lai | Sept. 23, 2009
No, not porn. Try background checks on dates

FRAMINGHAM, 23 SEPTEMBER 2009 - Technology can help mitigate the new dangers presented by online dating and the "hook-up" culture of today's youth, as well as the long-present threat of sexual misconduct by trusted authority figures, according to three companies presenting at the DEMO conference on Tuesday.

One of the companies, Date Check , lets people do quick background checks on potential dates and mates from their mobile phones.

"Look up before you hook up," said John Arnold, executive vice-president of Intelius Inc. , which is offering the service.

Date Check requires users to input the name or phone number of the man or woman in question. Date Check will then search Intelius' vast database and rate the person on a number of factors, including:

After digesting that information, users can rate the potential mate on a scale of one to five kisses.

Date Check is even more necessary today because of the popularity of online dating, and today's mobile populace, Arnold said.

"I do love it," Anu Shukla, founder and CEO for Offerpal Media, Inc., said during an on-stage interview at DEMO following Date Check's presentation. "I could see giving it to all of my dating friends or nieces."

The app runs on the iPhone now, and will come to Android and BlackBerry smartphones next month.

Another Web site, GelatoDating.com , also lets people check out their prospective dates beforehand. Gelato aggregates all of the online activity of a person -- blog posts, Tweets, FaceBook posts, and other things that can be found manually via Google -- into an easy to read "lifestream," says Gelato's founder, Steve Odom.

This lets users "get away from static dating site profiles, to something more authentic," Odom said.

Gelato lets people sign up and control their "lifestream" profile. They can limit which FaceBook status updates are displayed by Gelato, as well as which Tweets. A third company, MicroAssist Inc., is debuting an e-learning service called EthicsEd.

It is a training curriculum on topic such as online sexual misconduct that is sold to school administrators and designed to be viewed by school teachers and youth coaches.

"It helps the schools protect the children," said Chuck Origer, vice-president of business development at MicroAssist.

It costs US$8 per school employee, Origer said.

 

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