Surfing for a date

Three guys were sitting around a table at Ybor one night, talking about their colleges and how they were different. One was a Florida State graduate; the other two graduated from USF.

The FSU alumnus explained how his college had a lot of campus activities that allowed people to meet, whereas the two USF alumni said their college was still in the process of growing and didn’t have the same community feel.

All three were looking to start their own Internet business and after they received their bill that night, they came up with an idea:

“We thought that if this is how people meet, it is too expensive for college students,” said Josh Baron, one of the creators of

Baron, his brother, Adam, and their friend, Berry Matthewson started the new dating service. focuses on the colleges in the Tampa Bay area, such as USF and the University of Tampa. Baron said is designed to provide college students with an alternative means of meeting other college-aged people with similar interests, instead of going to local bars and the club scene.

“There are not a lot of dating Web sites out there like this one,” Josh said. “We just threw this out there.” is developed and designed by the three men and was launched in November.

Since its launch, has attracted 6,500 visitors and about 120 members. Josh said they have about 3,000 people a month visiting the site and thinks it is due to a lack of advertising that they haven’t had more. The majority of the members so far are USF students, Baron said.

“So far, we are just getting hits and members off of word-of-mouth,” he said.

People who are interested in meeting other college students and are at least 18 simply have to log in and create a profile, Josh said. Customers are asked to provide a picture for profiles, but currently there aren’t many pictures on the site.

“Either people don’t want to, or they don’t know how,” he said. “We are thinking of maybe going to Bull Market and taking pictures there for our members.”

After completing a profile, the member is given an internal e-mail address that only Josh and the member know.

“It’s for privacy reasons,” he said. “We want to be able to monitor what is being sent.”

Josh said the internal e-mail allows the members to correspond, and the only time that they ask for an e-mail address is at the initial signup so they can confirm their username and password with the member .

After March, Josh and his brother, now the only two running the Web site, will look to start collecting a monthly membership fee. Members would then be able to pick options that range from a one-month to 12-month membership. For example, a one-month membership would cost $14..99, and a 12 -month membership would cost $99.96.

However, from now until March, people can set up profiles free of charge to try to experience the Web site, Baron said.

“We are not in the position to gain money right now but a service that students use,” he said. “Plus, we haven’t really done any real marketing.”

Josh said he hopes that in the future, will include more Fla. colleges, and become a more interactive site. Josh said he and his brother want to do daily votes and possibly give away a free date to some members.

“We’re hoping to get UCF next,” he said. “It’s still under development, but we want to develop a community.”

Josh said no matter what, he doesn’t want the Web site to lose the college feel of it.

“We are focused on college campuses,'” he said. “It isn’t a real dating service.”

For more information or to view the Web site, go to

Contact Stefanie Greenat