Photography by Alex Vacca
Greeks and singles from other ethnic groups worry about how they could meet companions that share the same culture and traditions in our multicultural world, especially in countries like the USA and Australia. Said Amin, a young entrepreneur originally from Iran who finishes his emails with a “life is good” signature, had the same frustrations when he was single. He tried to meet people that share his culture, then he turned it into a business. Starting from his fellow Iranians he created an empire of online dating services that targets Greeks, Italians, Arabs and other ethnic groups. His company World Singles, LLC operates seven different ethnic online dating websites, among them Eligiblegreeks.com, the largest Greek online dating website. We met him at his new office in Orange County, California took pictures of him, and asked him why he wanted to mess with the Greeks.
When did you start your company and why?
It all started as a hobby back in the late in the year 2000; it became my full time job 2001. As a kid, I always had an entrepreneurial spirit selling candy, t-shirts and various knick-knacks. The Internet became my canvas to express this spirit.
Considering the humble beginnings of the company, it is amazing what we have accomplished. The company was founded in my basement with a mere $10,000 investment and now reaches millions of people across the world.
How did your family and friends react to your business journey (personals) in the beginning?
Friends were skeptical but intrigued. My mother on the other hand was sick to her stomach with worry. Like many parents, she is risk adverse and the idea of her son making a living from the Internet just did not make sense. Moreover, the Internet bubble was bursting and I had a cozy job at a Fortune 500 company so the thought of leaving a secure job for the unknowns of being an internet entrepreneur seemed like professional suicide to her.
Do you consider yourself the average Iranian? (culturally)
I guess this is open to interpretation for how one defines the “average Iranian”. I lived in Iran for 3 years and France for 5 years before moving to the US. I’ve adopted what I deem to be the best attributes of Iranian, French and American cultures. My general attitude is to take the best of all cultures. I have visited 20 countries to date and I hope to double this number during my lifetime.
How did you come up with EligibleGreeks.com?
EligibleGreeks.com was the second dating site that I started. I saw a void in this market, specifically for the Diaspora, and moved in quickly to fill it. The rest is history…
Why this domain name?
It was one of the few domains available, but more importantly it was to the point; Greeks that are eligible. Many of the site names I coveted were already registered and too expensive for me to buy.
How many people have profiles in EligibleGreeks.com?
We have several 100,000 members and are currently the most visited dating site for Greeks worldwide.
Do you have any connection to Greece or Greeks?
Yes, we do and now EligibleGreeks.com is also in Greek. We have recently grown our staff in Greece and will continue to ramp up marketing efforts through 2009.
Have you ever been there?
I went to Athens and Mykonos last summer. What an amazing country! Given our expanding marketing efforts in Greece and all the fun waiting for me there, I am planning a trip back to Greece in the next few months. Greeks know how to live; they seem to live life to the fullest today and are not waiting for tomorrow. I definitely dig that energy.
Are you good at dating? (Online and in real world)
Meeting people online was definitely easier for me than meeting people in the “real world”. When you are busy, it is not so easy to meet people. The Internet absolutely increased my opportunities to be more social and date. I mean, it’s so easy, you check out a member’s profile, exchange a few emails, talk on the phone and meet up.
Was I good at dating? Well, I certainly would not consider myself a dating professional like “Hitch”, but I was good enough to eventually meet my match…online of course =)
What could you say about the behavior, patterns etc of (the members of) EligibleGreeks.com in comparison to people to your other ethnic sites.
Compared to some of our other ethnic sites, EligibleGreeks.com is generally speaking more liberal and expressive. Dating online is not as taboo for Greeks as it is for some other cultures that we cater to. A great sign of the sites popularity and acceptance is seen in the many member testimonials we receive and post on the site. On some of our other sites, members are not as comfortable sharing their success stories publicly.
Describe yourself using five adjectives.
Oh boy, you should ask somebody else for a more honest and objective opinion, but since you asked…
What do you usually do in your free time?
Free time? What’s that?! Just kidding…I go to the gym regularly, hike and occasionally kayak. I like to play pranks too; it helps keep me loose.
What is your biggest dream? (personal life and career)
I am passionate to evolve as a human being and be a more conscious person. Professionally, I dream of lots of things; expanding NicheClick Media’s reach to new online verticals, making our existing sites more useful for our members and creating new online services that have a positive impact on people’s lives. I take my dreams seriously and that is why much of what I envision comes to fruition in some way, shape or form.
What did you study?
I studied 1001 ways to miss most of my classes. Gosh, I was such a lazy college student. I graduated with a degree in International Affairs from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Describe your average day if you can.
What the average day has in spades is lots and lots of analyzing and thinking time. Whether in bed, in the shower, driving or at work, I am always thinking of how our sites and the Internet in general, can empower people.
How many hours per day (average) are you in front of a computer, i-phone or pda?
Oh gosh, probably 12 or 13 hours a day. The nice thing is that between my Internet card, wi-fi, Blackberry and i-Phone I can be mobile, plugged in to what is going on and get work done. I’m a bit of an obsessed Internet freak. Luckily, my girlfriend is ok with it.
*About NicheClick Media:
NicheClick Media is passionate about niche online destinations and the opportunity to connect, inform, entertain and empower people. It operates as an incubator for ideas, and own leading e-commerce, community and communications services for many ethnic verticals.
The online personals business, World Singles, LLC currently enjoys a leadership position serving the Arab, Albanian, Armenian, Ethiopian, Greek, Iranian and Turkish Diasporas, with expansion plans set to include Greece, Turkey and the Middle East.
The company was founded in 2005 by serial Internet entrepreneur Saïd Amin and maintains its headquarters in Aliso Viejo, CA.
*About World Singles:
World Singles, LLC (WorldSingles.com) manages and maintains niche online personals sites, such as EligibleGreeks.com, ArabLounge.com, IranianPersonals.com, ItalianoSingles.com, TurkishPersonals.com, AlbanianPersonals.com and HyeSingles.com.com (Armenian community). World Singles provides a safe, fun and relaxed environment where compatible singles can share thoughts, opinions, laughs and friendship.