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Ready, set, date!

HurryDate offers prospect of romance in four minutes flat

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HurryDate's founders say its service offers quantity, brevity and, ideally, a good time.

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(CNN) -- On the sound of a whistle, the singles scurry about the trendy bar before sitting down opposite a potential suitor.

They then chat, stare, smirk, joke, sigh -- most anything, really, as long they do it in four minutes, when the whistle shrieks marking the end of one "date" and the start of another.

At HurryDate, this breakneck, dizzying approach to relationship building aims to generate long-lasting partnerships, one-night flings or, if nothing else, a few amusing anecdotes.

HurryDate is among several companies that try to curry relationships through parties, short and fast "dates" and the Internet. While matchmaking has been around for centuries, these ventures shoot to make romance easier in an era when time and access to other singles can be elusive.

"People are all over the place, and they don't have time to meet people," said Ken Deckinger, who founded HurryDate with longtime friend Adele Testani.

In the less than four years since its inception, the upstart company has hosted more than 2 million mini-dates involving thousands of singles. Today, HurryDate hosts 150 date "parties" a month held in 65 cities in the United States (in 28 states plus Washington, D.C.), the United Kingdom and Canada.

HurryDate's founders say they find as much satisfaction in building strong relationships as a strong business, claiming the company has fostered at least 83 engagements or marriages.

"There is something so rewarding about knowing that you are having a major impact on people's lives," said Deckinger, the company's CEO. "You're creating generations of people that are getting together and having families. It gives us chills."

A match made in Florida

Of course, not every short-lived date -- at HurryDate or rival speed-dating companies -- leads to a lifetime of wedded bliss.

Such microwave relationships hardly offer much time for soul searching, its co-founders concede. In a sense, quality may be sacrificed for quantity -- a blessing, some may argue, compared to enduring a dreadful four-hour long blind date.

"We always say, you're not going to know if you want to marry a person in four minutes," said Testani, HurryDate's president. "It really just to get a sense of rapport."

Such chemistry drew Testani and Deckinger together back when they first met, at age 15, during a scuba diving trip in their hometown of Boca Raton, Florida. (For the record, they say they never have and never plan to date one another.)

After attending rival high schools, the two went to the University of Florida in Gainesville before heading about 1,000 miles north to New York City.

There, Testani and Deckinger meshed their affinity for matchmaking and throwing parties by forming HurryDate, launching the company in May 2001.

By September 2001, the company reached about 10 cities, with new locations and ideas being added every month. Today, HurryDate offers assorted theme "parties" -- depending on age, sexual preference, religion and other categories, like political affiliation during the recent presidential campaign -- to match-up eager and available singles.

Creating an environment that allows singles to meet many people in a short period of time is nothing new, nor original to HurryDate. Numerous companies around the world -- such as FastDater, 8minuteDating, 25Dates.com, TurboDate, among many others -- work off the same basic concept.

Testani said HurryDate holds regular brainstorming sessions, to improve its business model and keep its parties fun, hip and fresh.

"The key to moving HurryDate forward is involving everyone, fresh ideas, creativity and be willing to take a risk," she said. "The dating world is a very competitive business, and it keeps you on your toes."

Looking to score

HurryDate's "parties" are structured to be enjoyable, fairly pressure-free and filled with singles looking for companionship, Testani said.

"You don't need to get up the nerve to talk to them -- they're available and you'll be able to meet them," said Testani. "And getting to meet someone face-to-face is just so important, because that's where the chemistry happens."

After four-minute sessions, HurryDate participants -- each with an identification number -- mark "yes" or "no" as to whether they'd like to see their mini-dates again. At night's end, the scores are entered into a computer program that matches up those eager to renew each other interests. (Three to five matches per person, per party are common, Testani said.)

Strategy, as well as personality, can factor significantly into a person's match rate. Testani and Deckinger recall daters who have handed out resumes, leaned across to kiss their dates, even danced throughout each of their mini dates.

While noting that some participants go too far, Deckinger said that "differentiation is key in HurryDate. As long as you can stick out from the crowd, you're golden."

Whether any HurryDaters found true love remains to be seen. But for starters, Testani and Deckinger said their main goal is giving participants opportunity to meet people and, if nothing else, enjoy themselves.

"We want it to be fun and hip and attract great people -- and be something that we would want to do to," Testani said.

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