SawYouAtSinai: Reputation Management, Matchmakers, and Online Dating

I enjoyed having dinner last week with Marc Goldmann, a former neighbor and CEO of SawYouAtSinai. We are adding this profile of SawYouAtSinai to our Social Networking Site Guide.

I agree with David Evans at Corante’s Online Dating service who has written on the importance of building reputation management into online dating services. SawYouatSinai has a unique model in the online dating space which provides reputation management by leveraging matchmakers. The system works: I personally already know one person who met her husband through the site.

I should also mention that Marc met the woman that he recently married the same day that he started the company. So although he may have started the business with ulterior motives, he now is running it strictly for the community (and because the business model has very significant potential).

Although Marc is focused on the dating market, one can easily see this same model being used by business-oriented networking sites. On Ecademy, Blackstar members are essentially paying Thomas Power and his colleagues to act as reputation-verifying matchmakers.

For more resources for Jewish Dating and Marriage, visit: Jewish Dating and Marriage Resources.

Web site:

SawYouatSinai

Summary:

SawYouatSinai is a dating site with a business model unlike any other. Although initially focused on the observant Jewish market, their matchmaker-based model is applicable to the broader non-Jewish community.

Membership:

7500 + Members and 160 + Trained Matchmakers

Founded:

August 2003

Founder:

Marc Goldmann and Azi Cutter co-founded the site.

Marc Goldmann

Marc Goldmann co-founded SawYouAtSinai in August 2003 and serves as company CEO. Marc previously worked as an Analyst with A.T. Kearney, and then for two years was the sole Research Analyst for Opus Capital Partners. Marc soon became Chief Financial Officer and a Senior VP in Operations of Global Sourcing Services (GSS), a $750MM a year marketing firm. He later worked for Zeborg, a management consulting and software & services company formed by the senior management team of Mitchell Madison Group.

Azi Cutter

Azi Cutter co-founded SawYouAtSinai in August 2003. He is also the CEO and Founder of AC Lion, an executive search firm. Prior to these two ventures, Azi was a senior manager for OTEC which was the precursor to Hotjobs.com. There he built and played a central role in the initial strategic success of today’s #1 rated Internet job board.

Corporate:

SawYouAtSinai is based in New York, NY. The company was seeded by its founders, and will be seeking venture capital or strategic partnership funding during the next few months.

Fees:

SawYouAtSinai primarily earns revenues from its monthly membership fee, which ranges between $7.95 – $12.95. In addition, they earn a small amount of revenues from advertising.

Description:

Quoting from the site:

“SawYouAtSinai was started with the simple goal of helping religious Jews find their soul mates. It is the only private, discreet and personalized online dating site. The Midrashim (Jewish commentaries) teach that every Jewish soul stood at Mt. Sinai with his or her soul mate at the giving of the Torah; now the challenge is finding the soul mate that you saw at Sinai. ….

“How does the site work? How is it different from all other sites?

  • When you become a member, you are required to fill out a comprehensive profile that includes information about your religious background, lifestyle, interests, references, description about self and criteria you are looking for in another person.
  • You then choose your matchmaker(s) (up to 3) from over 100 listed on the site, based on a matchmaker’s focus and background. Each matchmaker focuses on specific ages, religious orientation, locations and personalities
  • Matchmakers will then get to know you better through phone calls, Emails, and when appropriate contact you for face to face interview.
  • There is NO BROWSING of other member profiles. Your matchmaker selects profiles of potential matches and gives you access to those profiles for your review. In turn, your matchmaker will ONLY show your profile & picture to potential matches.
  • Members can review certain information that each single filled in their profile. Based on the other person’s profile and input from the matchmaker a single then “declines” or “accepts” a potential match through the system. All responses are kept in strict confidence, only accessible to matchmakers and respective singles. Each member has 10 days to approve or decline a match and the system will block the same match from being suggested twice.
  • When two members both agree to a match, SawYouAtSinai forwards contact information so the singles can arrange a conversation and then plan a date. Men should contact women within three (3) days of receiving the phone number. If he cannot call the woman then he should contact the matchmaker to let her know when he will be calling.
  • When appropriate, a member can update her/his status in the system to easily keep the matchmaker apprised with the progress of the relationship (i.e. “spoke on phone”, “went on first date”, “dating exclusively”, “engaged”). In addition, you are encouraged to form a relationship with the matchmaker so he/she can assist you through the dating process (when you desire and require input).

Matchmakers are there to continue to screen members, recommend matches, and assist (where requested) during the dating process. It is up to you to decide which matchmakers you want to work with, with whom you want to accept a date and to what extent you would like a matchmaker’s input and feedback during the dating process.

Matchmakers are interviewed at length by our staff prior to their admission into the network. They are required to provide two references who can attest to their matchmaking skills. We then interview the references using a comprehensive checklist of questions. This process ensures that our members are in the best hands, receiving suggestions about quality matches who meet their specifications.

Singles profiles are screened by the matchmakers to confirm accuracy of information. It is recommended to members that they provide references for their matchmakers to aid them in their efforts. In addition, we require matchmakers to have an initial phone interview with members and some will request a face-to-face meeting with members before suggesting potential matches to them.

Notes:

The SawYouAtSinai team carefully designed the site to merge the best of the traditional dating sites and the traditional matchmaking service. Table 1 below (from their investor presentation) summarizes the logic behind their unique approach

SawYouAtSinai: Advantage of Combined Online Dating/ Matchmaker Approach

Recommendation:

If you are a traditional/Orthodox Jewish single, we strongly encourage you to register on the site. More generally, we think that this model is worth studying for anyone interested in how the online dating market is evolving.